6 strategies to help you improve, and future-proof, your service level agreement metrics

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SLAs can be like a well-made umbrella on a terribly rainy day.

Imagine this scenario: you rely on a software company to provide you with uninterrupted services, but unfortunately, they fail to deliver on their promise of 99.9% uptime due to an unexpected server failure.

As a result, your customers get frustrated because they can’t use your app and the company's reputation takes a big hit. Overall, it’s a bit of a mess.

If only there were an agreement that established expectations of service and availability to hold them accountable for prolonged interruptions of service…

Well, in situations like these, Service Level Agreements (SLAs) can play a critical role. SLAs are an important foundation for establishing trust. They're a promise between you and your customers on how they can expect you to perform.

By effectively managing and optimizing SLA metrics, you can consistently and proactively address potential issues such as delayed response times, insufficient resources, or breakdowns in communication.

Believe me, SLAs aren’t just another document you’re creating to check off a box—they’re really important and go a long way in establishing a healthy foundation for your organization.

So in this article, I’ll break down exactly why businesses need to put more focus on these metrics and explain how they can optimize them for the best outcomes. In the end, you’ll be able to set SLAs that ensure the best results for your customers and organization.

Why do you need SLAs?

Why are SLAs critical for your business? Well, service level agreement metrics establish clear expectations between service providers and clients. They define how quickly issues are resolved, the percentage of uptime, and the overall service quality.

By setting these benchmarks, such as resolving critical issues within two hours, SLAs scope out exactly what everyone should expect.

To break it down further, SLAs outline the promises providers make to their clients. Within these agreements, Service Level Indicators (SLIs) provide measurable details like "99% of customer requests answered within one minute," while Service Level Objectives (SLOs) establish performance goals that align with these indicators. When combined, SLAs, SLIs, and SLOs create a comprehensive framework for reliable and consistent service delivery.

Efficiently managing SLA metrics fosters trust and accountability by promoting transparency in service delivery. It also highlights areas for improvement, driving better performance over time.

Failing to meet SLA targets can result in penalties or even the loss of contracts, really highlighting the importance of adhering to these metrics.

For engineering teams, SLAs normally sit a level above SLOs: these teams usually track their internal key metrics through SLIs, and they set internal objectives with SLOs, which help them take action before they breach an SLA.

6 strategies to improve your service level agreements

Now, let's dive into six strategies that can help you optimize your SLA metrics, exceed customer expectations, and deliver exceptional service quality. Remember, proactive service level management can help pre-empt any breaches of SLAs, so these strategies can play a crucial role in helping you do just that.

1. Track and measure key SLA metrics

It may seem obvious, but you should regularly monitor and measure your SLA performance metrics.

By tracking important indicators such as uptime, response times, and service quality, you'll gain valuable insights into your organization's performance. Consider utilizing tools or software that automate data collection to ensure accuracy and scale data collection efficiency as your operations expand.

Focus on SLAs that directly impact customer happiness, such as "90% of issues resolved within three hours," in order to prioritize crucial improvements. Additionally, compare your service level KPIs with industry standards or multilevel SLAs to assess whether you're meeting business goals and customer expectations while identifying areas that require performance enhancements.

2. Implement automation tools for increased efficiency

Automation can work wonders for reducing SLA latency and improving overall metrics. By automating repetitive tasks, your team can dedicate more time to resolving complex issues, which in turn can improve your service quality.

Integrate third-party software to automate common tasks like ticket routing or incident updates. You might even consider using AI chatbots to handle initial customer inquiries, speeding up response times and boosting customer satisfaction. In the end, investing in automation can not only enhance SLA performance but also increases your organization's overall efficiency.

3. Develop an action plan to address bottlenecks and areas for improvement

Start by analyzing the root causes of bottlenecks or performance issues and devise strategies to address them. You should work with key stakeholders to gain their valuable insights in crafting and implementing improvements.

Continuously evaluate the effectiveness of your changes by monitoring service level KPIs and making adjustments as needed. Proactively addressing concerns help create a culture of ongoing improvement in SLA metrics and boosts overall service quality.

For instance, let's say your SLA metrics reveal that your customer support team consistently falls short of the agreed response time target. In this case, you can:

  • Identify the issue: Recognize that your customer support team's response times consistently fall short.
  • Analyze root causes: Determine whether high ticket volume, inefficient ticket routing, lack of staff training, or other factors contribute to the issue.
  • Develop strategies: Create solutions tailored to the identified cause, such as hiring more support staff, implementing ticket routing automation, or providing additional training.
  • Involve stakeholders: Seek input from team leads and support staff to gain valuable insights into proposed solutions and potential obstacles.
  • Set a timeline with milestones: Establish a schedule to implement changes, ensuring completion of tasks like hiring within two months or deploying automation within four weeks.
  • Monitor progress and effectiveness: Regularly review service level KPIs to ensure that the implemented improvements are achieving the desired outcomes, and adjust strategies if necessary.

4. Establish clear escalation processes for handling complex or time-sensitive incidents

Complex or time-sensitive problems are bound to come up, requiring quick action. By developing a well-structured incident escalation process, you can efficiently address these issues and minimize their negative impact on SLA performance metrics.

You should be proactive about defining the steps and procedures needed for escalating incidents, clarifying the roles and responsibilities of team members involved in resolving such issues.

Along the way, make sure that all relevant parties are aware of these processes and trained to smoothly transition between support tiers.

5. Hire folks to reduce workload and enhance customer satisfaction

Insufficient staffing can be a significant reason for falling short of SLA performance metrics. Increasing your workforce can alleviate workloads, expedite response times, and improve service quality.

Consider hiring additional team members or outsourcing tasks to reliable partners. Cross-train employees so that they can handle various roles or provide backup during busy periods when resources are stretched thin.

A properly staffed organization can promptly address customer inquiries and issues, resulting in improved SLA performance and higher satisfaction for both clients and employees.

6. Streamline processes to reduce steps or eliminate unnecessary tasks

Efficient processes are key to achieving optimal SLA metrics. By streamlining workflows and eliminating redundant tasks, you can expedite response times and enhance service quality.

Review your current processes to identify areas that can be simplified or consolidated. Involve team members in this analysis, as their hands-on experience may uncover hidden inefficiencies.

Leverage process improvement methods such as Lean or Six Sigma to systematically optimize your workflows and continually make progress. Refining your procedures not only boosts SLA performance but also improves efficiency, enabling you to meet customer expectations consistently in the long run.

Can help you honor your SLAs? You bet

When it comes to SLAs, specifically downtime metrics, every single minute counts. But meaningfully measuring SLAs tends to be a big challenge.

So one of the best things about is that it was specifically designed to help businesses reduce their downtime, which is music to the ears of anyone who’s responsible for SLA uptime requirements.

With streamlined incident response via Slack, gone are the days of direct messages and siloed communications. And you can say goodbye to context chasing–everything responders need to know is in one dedicated incident channel, helping them get up to speed that much faster.

Our Status Pages feature also plays a huge role in helping to track SLAs.

With them, you can clearly communicate to customers when an incident is happening, helping you both build trust and show historical uptime at a glance.

And with additional features such as Workflows that help you automate several steps in the incident response process, and Insights that give you deep learnings into the efficiency of your response, has all the tools you need to not only make your incident response faster, but you can make it better, too, and build more resilient products along the way. 

Want to learn more about all the ways can help you stay true to your SLAs? Book a demo.


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