A service level agreement (SLA) is a legal contract between two parties: a service provider and a service user. An SLA holds the provider accountable for providing excellent work. For example, if you’re an internet provider, an SLA will ensure that you deliver the quality connection your company promises to offer. Without an SLA, a provider could easily cheat a user and take their money.
Crafting an SLA is essential for any service-providing business. Here are a few things every good SLA needs:
- Description: What does your company provide? What do you do? Give the reader a brief outline with plain language, so they understand your services.
- Metrics: How will you measure your performance? Establish metrics that will show how your operations meet standards.
- Monitoring: Tell your reader if you plan on recording any information. Some people highly value their privacy and may be reluctant to give up any insightful data. However, plenty of companies track such information to measure their performance.
- Support: What happens when issues arise with your service? That is especially important if you offer something technology-related such as cloud software. Customers want to know what to do when they encounter problems. Add a troubleshooting guide and a way for them to contact you during emergencies.
- Availability: How often can customers use your services? Are they available 24/7? Do they need higher subscription levels to access more extended hours?
- Duration: Contracts and subscriptions mean that your services aren’t always indefinite. Customers may need to renew their subscriptions if they wish to keep using your useful services.
- Penalties: If you don’t hold up your end of the bargain, you will need to make it up to the customer in some way. The SLA establishes clear standards and failure on your part to meet those standards never looks good. Perhaps you will use financial incentives to appeal to them.
- Escape Clauses: Sometimes, you can’t always provide your promised services for reasons outside of your control. For example, if your modem gets destroyed in a fire, you won’t be able to provide internet any longer. Additionally, you might want to include an escape clause for times when the customer breaks the rules. One example of this might be an email service provider who cancels a customer’s subscription after finding out that they were sending spam and viruses to other people.
SLAs might seem complicated, but the concepts are incredibly simple. You might not look forward to writing one from scratch, but Welch Law is available to help you craft an SLA that will become the foundation of your business. You should always take time to review your SLAs with an attorney and see if you need to make any changes. Always notify customers when updates have occurred.