A service level agreement (SLA) is an official agreement between a service provider and their customers that specify what level of service will be delivered as it relates to response and resolution times. It is important for companies to have SLA’s since these agreements set well-defined boundaries and expectations for the service provider to meet. Imagine you run a business and you work with a service provider in which expectations you have are not being reached. The problem here is a miscommunication between the client and service provider, where the expectations were not clearly made. An SLA allows for limited confusion on either the service provider or endpoint client’s part, as long as all the requirements are met throughout the contract. Also, if any conflicts arise during the service period, both companies can turn to the SLA to determine the outcome of their feud. An SLA can range from having simple to complex agreements. However, there are key agreements to include in your SLA.
Description of Services
The first necessary agreement is created by the service provider, pinpointing exactly what services and products the business offers; alongside a very detailed description of each one. The description must be honest, including the companies weaknesses and strengths, that highlights to the client what you are capable of, so that no unexpected surprises come up in the future. Having this aspect of writing clearly defines to the client what products you do and do not offer. These descriptions must be as specific as they can be, no assumptions are to be made and clients remain happy.
Context Setting Information
This can be seen as the original “purpose” of the SLA. Identifying the overall purpose for signing with your clients sets the bar for the service provider and highlights the criteria that should be met for the agreement.
It is very easy for either party involved, to become confused about what is required from the service provider. Having both parties acknowledge the conditions under which the service will be provided assists in keeping the agreement clear and successful. Agreeing upon unique service standards, between both the service provider and client, will help clear up any confusion regarding duties.
As the service provider, it is on you to make sure you are pinpointing to your clients the progress and impact the service has. Service reports should include the main aspects made above, that clearly show the effectiveness of your service to the client. This should include metrics that distinctively demonstrate your performance.
It is very important for both parties to meet regularly to communicate and review the performance of the service that the agreement made was built on. Service reports are good representations of progress to present during these reviews to show the overall effect made so far. If the relationship is going well between the provider and client, continue keeping good communication, no matter how well the performance is, to continue executing the standards.
Being specific on the key requirements and standards is the most important aspect when forming an SLA. When all aspects and service descriptions are made clear early on, it can reduce confusion and future conflicts between both parties. Incorporating the key aspects referenced earlier can help set goals and expectations early on, clarifying the caliber of the service being offered and the standards that should be met. SLA’s are not set in stone and can be modified throughout the time period if expectations or services want to be changed. In order to be a successful service provider, SLA’s are a very important key. With this, your service will be delivered to its greatest potential to the client while keeping your customers or clients happy.
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