Recently I met with a client specializing in the delivery of high-speed internet to residential and commercial customers. I was invited to help develop a customer retention and acquisition strategy. The firm needed a way to differentiate their company from the competitors so that the clients wouldn’t jump ship when their contract expired. They also needed a way to attract new customers and felt that the service their company provided was superior to that of the competitors. They asked me my thoughts on this, and I recommended that we evaluate the use of Service Level Agreements to keep clients and to attract new ones.
A service level agreement, (SLA), is a promise made by a supplier to clients that meets minimum service objectives. Particular aspects of the service – quality, availability, responsibilities – are agreed between the service provider and the service user. (Wikipedia)
One of the team asked, “How could an SLA retain and attract customers?” A service level agreement puts your service commitment on paper and is as much as a written contract between your client and you.
If your company exceeds expectations with current customers and doesn’t violate the SLA then, all things being equal, those customers are likely to continue to support your firm.
To attract new customers, you promote your dedication to service through advertising, your mission statement, social media, your website, etc. Make it a significant differentiator. Use marketing savvy to design the best messaging and get your service stories out there by using social proof.
Another team asked, “What happens when an SLA is violated?” No one is perfect but, the SLA is critical. Once promised, violations shouldn’t be taken lightly. I recommend you give some thought to what you would do when an SLA is violated. Consider the repercussions: strategy attainment, loss of customers, loss of reputation; these are significant issues.
SLAs are a Big Deal? Yes, once you commit publicly to service, then your reputation is on the line. You need to consider how your Service Commitment affects every area of your business – HR, manufacturing, service, finance, and sales.
Once an agreement is put in place, then, organizationally, you’ll need to rally around the delivery of that agreement.
The good news is that there are software programs you can implement to manage the SLAs for monitoring, management, reporting, and escalation. These are often help desk applications – the first point of contact for a customer service issue. The applications will have some SLA management where they can be defined, and escalation points can be determined.
Entry Software is the publisher of TeamHeadquarters Help Desk and Project Management software. Get a demonstration today.