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December 8, 2015

New Year’s Resolution: Refresh Your SLAs

Kevin Gibson
Director, Transformational Services
ConnectWise, Inc.
Refres you SLAs (Service Level Agreements)

Whether you have them in place yet or not, you’re probably aware of how service level agreements (SLAs) can help you manage your business better. An SLA establishes what your customer can expect to receive from you and frees you to sidestep uncomfortable scope creep conversations later.

When you’re in a services business, customers often mistakenly expect you to be their end-all-be-all. If anything breaks, it’s on you to fix it and it should be covered in what they’re already paying you, right? Not necessarily.

As the new year approaches, consider reviewing the most common ways clients have challenged their agreements with you. Find the themes. Could your agreement(s) be worked differently to more clearly explain what’s covered? Do you need to add language to address gaps? Have you added new services?

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We can each take a lesson from popular credit card companies. They’re constantly updating their user agreements. It’s a good practice.

And while, yes, it’s sometimes a hassle and often the lowest priority on your list, keeping your SLAs current still needs to be a priority. Things happen. Frustrated clients sometimes take legal action. Making sure you’re covering all the essentials in your SLA is important—and could save you a lot of money and frustration in the long run.

Here are 5 reasons to refresh your SLAs:

1. You Started Providing New Services

Each service offering should have its own SLAs. If you’ve started offering a new service, be sure to document what that entails—turnaround times, areas of coverage, areas not covered, etc.

2. Historical Data Shows Your Turnaround Times Are Unrealistic

This could mean your team either never achieves the timeframe expectations outlined in your SLA, or that they consistently overachieve on them. In either case, it’s a good idea to define a realistic timeline so customers have a clear idea of when they can expect to receive service.

3. More than One Customer has Misunderstood a Section of Your Agreement

If several customers are getting confused by the same section in your SLA, that section could probably use a little TLC. Once you’ve identified the common issues, work with your legal counsel to craft a new version that’s easier to understand.

4. They’re No Longer Competitive

Technology is always moving forward, and with those advancements certain services become cheaper, faster to deliver, and easier to scale. Review local competitor services and pricing to make sure your offerings are keeping up with the times.

If they’re no longer current, ask yourself why and start to evaluate easy ways to bring them up to speed. Once all the details are settled (and you’ve confirmed your team can support these updates), revise the verbiage in your SLAs to reflect those changes.

5. You’ve Lost Several Clients Over SLA Disagreements

While you can’t make everyone happy, if you’re losing clients left and right due to contract disputes, it’s time to re-evaluate your contracts. Determine what an acceptable attrition rate is for your market, and then keep tabs on that. Sometimes a simple adjustment can make all the difference.

Imagine you’re new to Amazon Prime. You sign up and assume you’ll get everything you order shipped in 2 days, free of charge. If Amazon didn’t do a good job of explaining that not all products are eligible for free, 2-day shipping, they could experience huge customer satisfaction issues.

The same concept rings true for your business. If the service terms aren’t clear, customers will be left to make assumptions that simply aren’t accurate.

Get to it!

Take the first step toward refreshing your SLAs today! Discover thought-provoking ways to expand your managed services offerings for the new year by exploring LabTech’s 6 Ways to Expand Your Managed Services Offering and Boost Revenue eBook today.

There you have it, 5 reasons to refresh your SLAs for the new year. By investing the time now to get your contracts as updated and easy-to-understand as possible, you’ll proactively save time and hassle, and keep clients happier.

Grow Your Services the Smart Way

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Kevin Gibson Director, Transformational Services
ConnectWise, Inc.

Kevin is an avid racer whose need for speed carries over into his role at LabTech Software. As co-creator of LabTech Ignite®, he’s always thinking of ways LabTech can work faster, so you don’t have to.

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