A critical step in the alignment of the sales and marketing efforts in any business is the creation of a Service Level Agreement (SLA). The SLA sets the tone for the relationship between you and the new client. Outlining responsibilities on both ends, terms involved, and the timelines helps you set clear expectations and measure the user experience effectively.
Why does my business need an SLA?
An SLA ensures that both parties understand and agree on their roles and responsibilities. It also helps your business define specific service prerequisites. By drafting an all-inclusive, detailed SLA, your customers can be assured that there will be sufficient support from your side based on the agreed upon terms and conditions.
Do’s and Don’ts for an SLA
- Develop a framework to lay out the SLA and increase the efficiency of your service.
- Identify potential gaps and address them in the SLA, so as to avoid confusion. Important information such as contact details and availability should be clearly defined.
- Measure and track your progress against your SLA goals. Report generation is an effective way to monitor compliance and keep your customers informed of the developments being made in line with the deliverables promised in the SLA.
- Enable automated reporting to be able to give your customers complete transparency and real-time progress information.
- Don’t utilize the SLA as a solution for solving customer issues. First, resolve customer issues and then revisit the SLA if necessary.
- Don’t make the SLA one-sided. The SLA must equally benefit the customer and your business.
- Don’t wait to resolve issues till they intensify to a given threshold. It is important to communicate expectations with your marketing and sales teams beforehand.
Structure of an SLA document
Because the SLA is a legal document, it must contain a specific set of contents that are reviewed by a legal expert. Each parameter included in the document must be agreed upon by you and your customer.
Here are some of the necessary parameters an SLA must include:
- Definition of Service — the specific service or services being provided, along with any relevant details and specifications
- Fees and Payment Schedule — the cost of the service, how it will be paid (e.g. monthly, annually), and any penalties for late payment
- Taxes — any applicable taxes, such as sales tax or value-added tax (VAT)
- Coverage Hours — the hours during which the service will be available and supported
- Exclusions — any services or issues that are explicitly not covered by the agreement
- Performance Measurement — the methods used to measure the quality and effectiveness of the service
- Incident Management Process and Response Time — the procedures for reporting and resolving incidents, including the expected response time
- Limitation of Liability — the extent of the service provider’s liability in the event of service disruptions, errors, or other issues
- Service Requirements — any requirements or expectations for the service, such as uptime guarantees or response time targets
- Covered Equipment and/or Services — the specific equipment or services that are covered by the agreement
- Minimum Standards — the minimum levels of service quality that the provider must maintain
- Confidentiality — the measures taken to protect the confidentiality and security of any sensitive information involved in the service
- Security — the measures taken to ensure the security and integrity of the service, including data protection and access control
When should I renew my SLA?
While it is always a good idea to revisit the SLA, there are five main reasons for your business to renew them:
- You are starting a new service
- Your team is unable to meet the predefined deadlines as per the SLA
- Certain sections of the SLA seem ambiguous or confusing to your customers
- To keep up with technological advancements and competency
- Losing customers to SLA-related problems
The importance of having a well-documented SLA is critical. It not only ensures stability for your business but also ensures that your customers are satisfied with the service.