Service Level Agreements are among the most powerful communication tools when it comes to establishing expectations between two parties regarding a specific service(s). However, while an SLA can be an effective tool, if it’s established incorrectly, it can do the opposite of its intended purpose. Therefore, it’s important to understand what not to do when you’re establishing a Service Level Agreement.
The Release Timeframe
One of the worst times to establish a Service Level Agreement is in the middle of a customer conflict. Many times, businesses establish an SLA when they’ve been bombarded with complaints. This is often done to thwart any more complaints, or to prevent from having to respond from existing complaints. The problem with this practice, is it often causes a business to have even more complaints to deal with. Therefore, the timing of an SLA is just as important as its included objectives.
The most important element to remember when establishing an SLA is to do so when there are no pending complaints. Use this time to gather the reasons for complaints. Doing so allows your business to gauge what levels of expectations are not being met, and what areas of the service can lead to misunderstandings. Only establish an SLA once complaints have been resolved and an effective SLA agreement has been drafted based upon these experiences.
Improper Reason for Implementation
Unfortunately, this has become a common practice among many businesses. In an attempt to thwart complex communications and obligations between departments, an SLA is put into play. This is an improper use because when there are multiple department in multiple regions, a business needs to focus on inter-office communications, not a Service Level Agreement. An SLA should only be implemented to help streamline communication and expectations between a customer and a business, not within the business itself.
Implementation Without Agreement From Both Parties
This is perhaps the most important element when it comes to an SLA. Because this document is an agreement, it must be agreed upon by all parties it includes. Businesses who implement a Service Level Agreement without the consent of the other party may find that the clauses set forth in the agreement are not applicable. Therefore, when you’re establishing an SLA, you must make it apparent that there is an SLA and that the customer must agree to go forth with the transaction. If a customer refuses to agree to the SLA terms, then there cannot be a deal. Businesses who try to apply an SLA without providing the customer with valid information and a means to physically comply with the SLA may find that should complications arise, the SLA cannot be implemented in a court of law.