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Don't fall into SLA hell

Published: 22 July 2019

What is SLA hell? Simply put, when SLA performance reports do not reflect the service experienced by customers. This results in service review meetings where account and service managers have to tackle customer frustration and anger regarding service failure.

Being stuck in such a nightmare due to poor performance is stressful, hectic and no doubt creates unhappy customers. Issues that negatively impact your customers’ experiences inevitably have an effect on the profitability of your business. As a service provider, the last thing that you want is to fork out costly penalty fees as well as lose the trust of your customers, decreasing the chances of contract renewals.

Whilst outsourcing to third-party managed service providers is the norm for customers, it creates additional opportunities for performance degradation, communication mishap, and overall customer discontent, therefore, having accurate and manageable SLAs in place can help to mitigate these risks to the business relationship.

The basics – proactive monitoring

This is crucial in meeting the SLA. If you can’t monitor and alert proactively, you’re bound to be breaching SLAs. Your solution should spot potential problems arising in real-time and alert you so that you can pinpoint the root cause before your customers are impacted. This analysis and troubleshooting is often performed by staff who don’t have the technical proficiency of an engineer so it’s important that data is easy-to-understand and displayed through graphical dashboards.

Sharing is caring – transparency is a priority

Provide your customers with complete visibility and access to their network performance and application usage data – ideally what you need is a shared view between the two of you. This empowers them to make data-driven decisions based on hard evidence, gain trust that you’re not hiding anything and appreciate the quality of service that you’re delivering thereby boosting their confidence and satisfaction.

Service assurance through reports

Accessing SLA reports at your fingertips greatly enhance the service experience, for both you and your customers. Being able to demonstrate service guarantees with quick to run reports that pull information directly from your network performance monitoring solution ensures that these are unbiased, accurate and non-technical. And thanks to this level of transparency, when your customers receive these monthly reports, they can match these upto their actual experience and should any disconnects arise these can be discussed and resolved more easily.

The back up plan – what if…

You’ve taken all the steps to avoid an SLA breach but sometimes these things just happen. During SLA negotiation, you need to make your customers aware of the follow up process which includes what happened, a timeline of events, the cause, who was involved and what corrective steps you took to solve the situation.

It’s true – offering aggressive guarantees around availability and reliability can help you differentiate yourself from the competition and attract new business but without the right processes in place, you can land yourself in unpleasant consequences.