In today’s hypercompetitive world, meeting the rapidly increasing customer expectations is a daunting task yet an urgent necessity to stay relevant. Establishing service level agreements (SLAs) to align customer expectations and organizational capabilities is a practical approach to ensure superior service quality. Therefore, it’s strategically significant for businesses to plan and develop a robust SLA management system.
A Service Level Agreement (SLA) is a formal contract between the organization and its customers, outlining acceptable levels of performance for business scenarios where services are being rendered. SLAs are actively used for scenarios such as managed services and software maintenance and support services.
Service level management is a key element of an IT help desk, and its objective is to streamline IT operations and improve IT service quality. Once the SLAs are agreed upon and communicated to the customers, it’s critical for the IT help desk to manage them effectively and efficiently.
Manual SLA management is next to impossible, considering the massive volume of service requests businesses receive daily. Implementing a level of automation is one of the best methods to streamline user requests and accelerate responsiveness. Let’s take a look at the top best practices to automate the SLA management process for tracking, prioritizing, measuring, and reporting SLAs.
1. Pay Attention to SLA Management Features of a Help Desk System
It’s imperative to evaluate whether the help desk solution you select to handle the SLA management process accommodates the following feature requirements:
- Automated Tracking: The help desk automatically assigns an SLA to each incoming customer request based on pre-configured SLA policies. The status for every ticket generated by the system is tracked in real-time to accelerate the response and meet the SLA deadlines.
- Request Prioritization: Automated ticket routing based on pre-defined business rules helps to seamlessly align agents to work on customer requests. Logic-based ticket prioritization saves time in addressing urgent tickets and ensures faster resolution.
- Smart Alerts: A help desk system with visual alerts and text notifications features ensures smart reminders for tickets approaching SLA deadlines. Features such as customized color-coding help in efficiently sorting tickets requiring immediate attention and don’t let anything slip through the cracks.
- Auto-escalations: In case of an SLA breach, the system can allow automated ticket escalations according to the organization’s escalation policy. Accordingly, senior executives in the management hierarchy receive automated notifications for respective SLA breaches to ensure definite ticket resolution and customer satisfaction.
- Custom Reports: Customized reporting functionality of a help desk system simplifies the root cause analysis of SLA breaches in real-time. Detailed reporting helps to easily spot anomalies and identifies specific trends frequently causing the bottlenecks for unhindered service delivery.
2. Measure Effectiveness in Improving SLA Management
Once you’ve chosen the right help desk software to manage your SLA management process, it’s crucial to evaluate its effectiveness. Although every SLA varies depending on the type of services a customer requires, there are some key factors businesses need to monitor, analyze, and report to stakeholders. Here are primary performance indicators reflecting and validating the health of your solution in managing SLAs.
- Ticket Volume: Reflects the number of tickets processed by the help desk at a given point in time. This metric also indicates the service request patterns for different time intervals. Analyzing the ticket volume trends helps IT teams plan and optimize help desk performance during potential volume spikes.
- First Call Resolution Rate (FCRR): Defines the percentage of service issues completely and correctly resolved at the first level of support. Help desk solutions ideally strive for high FCCR as it implies higher customer satisfaction. Moreover, resolving customer issues in the first go guarantees improved SLA rates.
- Average Response Time: Merely implies the average time it takes to respond to a user request. It’s a performance indicator determining the efficiency of your SLA management system. The agent idle and customer wait time can be eliminated by automating the ticket management process and thus ensuring SLA fulfillment.
- SLA Compliance Rate: Signifies the percentage of customer issues resolved within the stipulated SLA times. Continuous adherence to SLA compliance is essential to ensure setting realistic SLAs. Tracking SLA compliance rate overtime helps in identifying the loopholes in the SLA management system.
- Cost Per Ticket: Dividing the total operating cost by the total ticket volume for the given time interval provides the cost per ticket. Various businesses consider the IT help desk as a cost center, and therefore it becomes essential for them to keep the cost per ticket to a minimum. Cost per ticket is a significant performance metric to evaluate the efficiency in managing tickets SLAs.
3. Develop a Continuous Improvement Plan for SLA Management Processes
Though SLA breach is inevitable in the real world, it’s significant to take stock of the situation continuously and plan to avoid similar instances in the future. Adopt the following best practices to devise a continuous improvement plan for advancing your SLA management processes.
- Continuously reviewing service level targets is crucial for setting realistic service levels. Evaluating the current IT help desk’s performance and using the feedback to optimize the service level targets should be an ongoing process for fine-tuning the overall SLA system.
- Recurring SLA breaches hamper the customer experience and may impact a business’s bottom line. Therefore, reviewing SLA management processes to identify and eliminate performance bottlenecks must be a priority for the teams running the help desk.
- Reevaluating service requests escalation logics and ensuring necessary reminders and notifications are rightly aligned with the concerned stakeholders helps to ensure nothing slips through the cracks.
An SLA management process is essential to ensure competitive service delivery and a delightful customer experience. Besides automating your SLA management process, a help desk system can increase the efficiency of support services, improve agent productivity, and enhance the overall competitiveness. Therefore, selecting the web help desk best suiting your SLA management needs is vital to sustain your existing customers in a cost-effective manner and dynamically support the growing customer base. SolarWinds® Web Help Desk® is one such comprehensive solution and is an industry favorite in accommodating teams of all sizes to smoothly manage SLA agreements.