Service Level Agreements are a great way to demonstrate your investment in the promises you’ve made to your customers, and help set achievable standards for your engineers to reach.
However, as it often means you need to dedicate a good chunk of admin time to ensure your SLAs are being met consistently. It couldn’t hurt to have a helping hand, right?
Fortunately, we’ve got just the thing!
In this article, we’ve outlined some of the best practices you can follow to give your field service business the best chance of meeting SLAs, every time! With these in place, you can improve the services you provide, avoid non-compliance fines, and keep customers happy!
- The importance of good organisation
- Stay in touch and communicate
- Obtain insight you can act upon
- Consider a dedicated digital tool
To take things a step further, we’ve put together a fresh combo of resources for you and your team to download. Get your free Service Level Agreement Monitoring Tool and SLA Template at the end of this article!
1. The importance of good organisation
Being organised sounds simple enough—even obvious—but it’s all-too easy to fall into bad habits. Who among us can really say we've never lost track of time, or forgotten as task?
Besides, it's one thing to get yourself in order, but think about how tricky it is to get an entire team to meet the same standards of organisation as well. When there's 4-5 of you it's easy, but as numbers increase to 15-20+ employees, it's tough.
It makes sense then, that when you throw SLA deadlines in to the mix, it adds a whole other level of complexity! This is especially true when you consider the risk of a hefty fine if you breach an SLA, and where repeat offences could result in losing a lucrative contract.
Fortunately, simple solutions can have a big impact and one of the best things you can do is make sure you have a simple, accurate way of keeping track. This means you need to make use of a functional template that helps you to list and organise your SLAs.
The ideal solution would be to adopt job management software that allows you to do this, though for smaller businesses who might be aiming to save money, it's not necessarily the easiest option to go for straight away.
Instead, spreadsheets are a useful resource that help you digitally keep track and they’re a good starting point if you’re just dipping your toes into the world of maintenance contracts.
Having a “physical” (albeit digital) reminder that you can refer to whenever you need to (and easily share with others) can go a long way to ensuring your team keeps focused and is aware of the goals they need to achieve.
As mentioned, you can download our free Service Level Agreement template at the end of the article. With it, you can create custom filters, add in the necessary details and make sure you’re tracking the essential information necessary to remain compliant:
- Type of Service: Include a brief description of the type of service you will fulfil i.e. alarm system maintenance, heating system service, etc.
- Appliance Type: List the appliance/s involved in the appointment. If more than one, it might be wise to create another row.
- SLA Type: State Preventive if it’s planned, or Reactive if it’s an emergency appointment.
- Work Hours: Different SLAs will relate to different time schedules. Same for your clients, which will influence your ability to respect deadlines.
- Priority: Rank from 1-4, with 1 being Highest Priority, 4 being Lowest Priority so it’s clear what to prioritise.
- Time to Completion: How long do you have to fulfil the SLA before it counts as a breach?
- Service Credit/Cost of SLA Breach: The cost if breached.
Don't forget you can download the guide we’ve prepared to get started with SLA tracking!
However, if you're intrigued in a digital SLA tracking solution, through software, then why not take a look at Commusoft's comprehensive Service Level Agreement solution?
2. Stay in touch and communicate
Tracking SLAs is one thing, but there comes a point where you may need to warn or notify staff if one is getting close to a breach. Communicating shouldn’t be difficult and it’s especially important when you’re working towards a deadline.
Creating a digital spreadsheet will be a big help in this regard, particularly if you’re using something like Google Sheets. With it, you can share files amongst your team members and see notifications when updates are made, all in real-time, as a change is made.
Staying connected the “traditional” way with SMS, email, or phone calls will also help, though if everyone’s monitoring the details properly and - of course - focused on the job, then these will be needed less frequently, but it’s good practice to make sure your team can communicate with ease and it's already good practice when it comes to scheduling and keeping an eye on your appointment diary.
We’ve suggested a variety of tools that can help boost your team’s communication in our previous post, especially if you’re working remotely and looking for new ways to keep your team connected (though they also work just as well if you’re in the office, too).
🔎 Learn more: How Do You Warn Your Team About Potential SLA Breaches?
3. Obtain insight you can act upon
The great thing about keeping track of your essential information is how effectively you can use it to learn, improve, and adapt.
If you see certain tasks aren’t being met, or are cutting awful close to a breach, it’s a great way to investigate and think about how you can improve these points.
These can lead to discussions with your customers to reassess expectations or do the same with your engineers to consider how you could optimise your time and continue to improve.
Without this information, much like missing out on collecting customer reviews and feedback, you’re not going to be in a position where you can learn and progress in an effective or meaningful way.
In addition, recording stats like this is a great way to build up a portfolio of information that’s sure to serve you well when it comes to tendering for new contracts. If you have detailed records that accurately demonstrate that you can meet targets, complete work, and avoid penalties.
4. Consider a dedicated digital tool
Depending on the size of your service business, or even the amount of time you’re already spending tracking SLAs as you deliver on PPM promises, those pesky SLAs can become increasingly difficult to manage, that’s even if you are keeping organised, optimising communication, and reacting quickly.
While the tool’s and tips we’ve provided are a great way to get you started and streamline your SLAs, the assumption is that you won’t want to stop there. To give yourself the best chance of meeting SLAs consistently and coping with more contracts, you should consider adopting software to meet your needs.
SLAs become an indication of your staff’s commitment, making things easier in the office, but also improving the capability of your business to meet and deliver on your promises to your customers. What could be better?
If you want to unlock the benefits of successfully managing SLAs – we’re talking improved customer relationships, winning bigger contracts, and increased cash flow – make sure your software provides these 5 must-have tools.
- Visual countdowns and timers
- Breach notifications and warnings
- SLA reporting and analytics
- Segmentation and customisation
- Multiple SLA metrics
🔎 Learn more here: 5 Must-Have Tools For Service Level Agreement Monitoring
With these points in place, you can be well on your way to truly optimising the way you handle SLAs for your service business.
While we’d recommend going digital sooner rather than later, with software to help manage your SLAs, improve communication, and more besides, we recognise the timing isn't always right for everyone, which is why we've prepared an alternative solution.
Until then, take a look at our free guide and spreadsheet template and take another step toward monitoring your service level agreements with confidence.