It’s not always easy to keep up with customer demands, especially in B2B industries where the speed and effectiveness of your support team has a direct impact on your customers’ profits. That’s why service level agreements (SLAs) help set expectations and build mutually beneficial arrangements between you and your customers.
For any business which relies on another for its mission-critical systems, such as web services and IT support, an SLA is one of the most important contracts they’ll sign. In fact, no B2B business is likely to choose a support service that isn’t backed up by an SLA that has their best interests at heart.
There’s a lot more to an SLA than just specifying the maximum amount of time it will take to respond to and/or resolve a support request. In today’s post, we’ll be looking at reasons why SLAs are so important in B2B support.
Set Client Expectations
An SLA is all about setting client expectations while ensuring that they’re aware of their obligations and the support channels available to them. Assuming you’re running a business that wants to make its clients happy, you’ll want to follow the formula that customer satisfaction equals reality minus expectations. While SLAs are not about under-promising and over-delivering, they’re supposed to set realistic expectations that your support team should strive to surpass.
Meeting and surpassing the obligations laid out in your SLAs is more easily achieved with an integrated customer support platform that incorporates a traditional support ticketing system with a peer-to-peer knowledge base. Not only will the knowledge base reduce workloads on your support team – it will increase the chances of resolving issues during the first response.
Measure Support Team Performance
If you’re not meeting SLA standards, you’ll no doubt end up losing customers. Exceed them, and you’ll see a marked improvement in your reputation characterized by happy clients taking to social networks and support forums to thank you for your assistance.
By setting the bar, you’re better equipped to track critical metrics, such as average response and resolution time, time waiting for any necessary third parties and the number of support requests solved by drawing upon pre-existing information in the public knowledge base.
Once you’ve drawn up an SLA that best suits the needs of both parties, set performance goals based on the priority levels of support tickets, then implement customized reports that align with your goals.
To that end, an SLA is more than just a contract – it’s the foundation of your support department, as well as a baseline upon which to improve.
Offer a Consistent Service Level
Implementing an SLA is a matter of keeping organized and helping your support team handle their workloads more effectively. By prioritizing tasks in accordance with your SLAs, your support team will offer a more consistent level of service.
As such, it works a lot like a sheet of instructions and obligations from the point of view of your support team. After all, they’ll rely on the core components of your SLA to determine which support tickets to answer first, which to flag for additional attention and which to resolve immediately using information that already exists in the knowledge base. This approach translates into a more consistent experience across the board.