Companies that offer IT marketing services are always competing against each other, so a solid service level agreement is the cornerstone for future success. A service level agreement (SLA) needs to be clear and well-explained in order to build a foundation for a strong client partnership. If any problems arise, a solid service level agreement will be able to handle any issues and keep the customer satisfied. An easily understood service level agreement is the key to maintaining future success. Here are a few ways that a managed service provider (MSP) can benefit with a well-planned service level agreement:
1. Set Realistic Goals
A service level agreement can only be successful if you have clear and realistic goals. Never promise anything that you will not be able to deliver. Only make guarantees that you can keep or you risk alienating your customer base. While quick resolution times are important, it is much more critical to perform at a high level instead of only partially completing a job to perform a quick turnaround.
Being honest with yourself and clients is the key to reaching attainable goals. Customers will get very frustrated if you continue to fail to deliver on promises. A service level agreement is not a marketing gimmick. Never try to make outlandish promises and always fulfill each contract. Complete honesty is a major step in improving client relations.
3. Staff Training
It is essential for employees to receive the proper training on service level agreements. An employee who is not fully trained is more likely to make mistakes and cause issues for various clients. They need to understand how to communicate with customers and how to respond to different levels of emergencies. A properly trained staff is a critical tool in maintaining your IT marketing services company.
4. Be Specific
A service level agreement needs to be clear and easily understood. Clients are much easier to communicate with if they fully understand the service level agreement. For example, it is much simpler to guarantee a response time than a resolution time. Distinguishing between response and resolution times is essential for a service level agreement to be fully understood.
5. Hold Harmless Clause
A service level agreement is essentially a business contract between you and your client. A hold harmless clause protects your company by limiting risk. If anything happens outside of your control, your business will be protected. In other words, a hold harmless clause will prevent a client from being able to sue you for any damages or expenses.
6. Explain Expectations of Clients
Focusing solely on how you will deliver your service is a mistake often committed by MSPs. A solid service level agreement also needs to focus on how customers need to handle questions, complaints, or other various issues. Clearly stating the expectations of clients will eliminate confusion and create a much easier working relationship.
7. Include a Discontinuing Service Agreement
Besides explaining service protocols, a service level agreement also needs to account for a plan to discontinue services. Without a discontinue service plan, it can be a very difficult and expensive process. It can ultimately result in a lawsuit if you do not outline the process of undoing contracts.
8. Continue to Evolve SLA
A service level agreement needs to be reassessed over time. The IT world is always changing and a service level agreement can quickly become irrelevant. Routinely making changes will enable your company to have much more success in the future.
9. Prepare For Various Scenarios
The IT world can become very unpredictable and experience unforeseen issues. A good service level agreement needs to explain the protocol for these scenarios. For example, Amazon experienced a four-day outage in April 2011. Fortunately, they did not breach their service level arrangement because they specifically outlined this scenario.
Providing a practical and workable service level agreement is the key to a productive relationship between your customers and your IT marketing services company. A service level agreement that is well-written will establish clarity, while also managing expectations between clients. Following these simple yet effective steps will create a successful relationship between you and your clients.