It is wrong to think of service level agreements as nothing more than a list of rules you must adhere to in order to keep your clients happy.
There are many ways in which well-considered SLAs can protect your business and minimize your stress.
Writing SLAs gives you a chance to make clear exactly what can be expected of your company and where your responsibilities begin and end.
For example, you can detail in a service level agreement those situations where you cannot be found accountable for problems on the IT infrastructure. This can include where problems are caused by unapproved or illegal software or by the use of personal devices on the network.
While, as an MSP, you are probably responsible for all of your client’s key hardware and software infrastructure, there are likely to be various systems that do not fall under your remit. These could include line-of-business applications that have their own support contracts or print devices that are supported by a copier supplier.
By making sure that your SLAs list what is included and detail what is not, you can ensure your company isn’t called upon to support troublesome items that are not its responsibility.
There are invariably one or two users at every company who will have unrealistic expectations and place unfair demands on your time. If your SLAs make clear exactly which days and hours you have agreed to provide support, you can step away from phones and emails at the end of the day and be free to enjoy your personal time.
When occasional disagreements occur, having a detailed SLA that is accurately reported on helps you to back your corner and support your case. For example, if a troublesome user complains about your service, you may be able to prove that your company does, in fact, consistently respond to and resolve problems within agreed timeframes.
In the event of a serious dispute with a client, a good SLA could represent the difference between a simple resolution and a protracted legal or political battle!
Clients’ opinions of your company’s service can vary day-to-day based on the current mood or on any ongoing system issues. Reporting performance against agreed SLAs allows you to periodically present your clients with an indisputable “big picture” view.
Sadly, IT consultants are often judged on the most recent system problem – even if they have ensured consistently perfect system performance for months previously. Being able to show your customers, in black and white, that you are meeting your obligations and ensuring excellent system uptime, can be enough to bring them back onside and prevent them shopping around for a new support provider.
These five points prove that service level agreements can do just as much for you, as an MSP, as they can for your clients. If SLAs get you down, perhaps its time to look at them differently.
One of the best ways to get started with writing your own SLAs is to take a look at some examples. In an earlier blog post, we posted some SLA templates that can give you an idea of how to put together an effective Agreement that can help protect your business and your customers.
Listen to our July webinar on Creating and Managing SLAs.
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