Service level agreement monitoring (SLA) is transforming the way field service businesses care for their customers.
However, if your SLA strategy isn’t carefully honed, your business can suffer…
Service level agreements are often a requirement for large service maintenance contracts and when working with well-established commercial clients.
Failing to properly monitor service level agreements can result in significant financial burdens for your business. With the right software, you can avoid costly penalties and fees that accompany SLA breaches. Accurate service level agreement monitoring means you can stay on top of SLAs, breaches, reporting, and much more!
Once you unlock the benefits of successful SLA management, you’ll improve customer relationships, win bigger contracts, and increase cash flow.
That’s why we’ve gathered five important SLA monitoring tools; so you can be there when customers need you most!
What is Service Level Agreement Monitoring (SLA)?
Service level agreement monitoring, or SLA monitoring, is a system or technology that helps service teams fulfill their contracted obligations to customers.
Each contract comes with varying levels of service your team will provide. to oversee the part of a contract that concerns the level of service a business will provide. For field service businesses, this could include
responding to a customer within a certain time frame
scheduling a job within a certain time frame
ensuring a technician arrives on site within a certain number of hours
The agreement often includes penalties for failing to meet the outlined level of service. Such as a $200 fine per breach. The severity of a penalty can vary, ranging from a fine, a percentage off the price of the next service, and your contract being terminated. HubSpot covers more about establishing SLAs and setting the right terms for your business.
This is why having the right tools for service-level agreement tracking is so important!
Now you know what an SLA is, let’s review the five essential features for monitoring SLAs.
1. Visual Countdowns and Timers
Service level agreements are usually based on very specific time frames. Therefore, time tracking is critical. This can be a challenge. “How long do we have to provide the service?”, and, “What time will we breach the SLA?” are common concerns for businesses like yours.
With multiple people working on jobs, tight deadlines, and stress, it’s easy for accurate timekeeping to fall by the wayside.
Without a computer system monitoring SLA countdowns for you, there’s no dedicated point of truth. Companies like yours need a single timer that you can rely on to track how long until an SLA breaches. It’s not good enough to simply rely on people to remember. Especially when financial penalties and your company’s reputation are on the line.
Service level agreement monitoring software can provide you with the high level of accuracy you need to track SLA countdowns. With on-screen timers, any member of the office team can quickly check how long there is left to fulfill an SLA.
If the software color-codes the timer, it can offer an easy visual to check where things stand. To put it simply, green = good, red = bad! This tool makes it difficult for your office staff to miss an SLA deadline! This is vital for effective service level agreement monitoring.
Beware: Some software companies will claim they can improve your SLA management. However, these solutions often don’t include real SLA tracking and countdowns.
Here’s a tip: if a provider offers “SLA features”, make sure you check that they are tangible SLA monitoring tools.
2. Breach Notifications and Warnings
Countdowns and timers make it easier to stay on top of SLAs, but breaches are inevitable. This can be due to traffic, a sick technician, or other unforeseeable circumstances.
Before that happens, it’s ideal to receive a warning notification to let staff know that an SLA will soon expire.
For example, your business offers an SLA for a technician to be on site within four hours. If three hours have passed and the SLA hasn’t been met, SLA tracking software should be able to automatically notify you and warn you that there is only one hour left until the SLA breaches.
This gives office staff an opportunity to follow up with the tech. They can check if the team member will be able to get to the property in time.
If the SLA does breach (i.e. the technician arrived later than four hours), your operations manager will want to be notified. Service level agreement tracking software can provide instant notifications when an SLA is breached. So everyone is kept in the loop regarding business performance.
Similarly, you may want to send an automated email out when the SLA breaches. These can also be sent to customers, and are a good opportunity to be transparent. Use this email to acknowledge the breach and address any next steps, or follow up with any contracted requirements.
If your trades business wants to upgrade service level agreement monitoring and reporting, automatic notifications and warnings are must-haves.
3. SLA Reporting and Analytics
Instant notifications let the operations managers know when SLAs breach. But what if they want to know how many SLAs were met (or not met) in the past six months?
That’s where reporting and analytics come in.
As you know, accurate reporting provides invaluable insights into your business. For example, dedicated reporting can reveal if your team struggles with navigation. Or if there are scheduling conflicts that are affecting your team’s ability to arrive at jobs on time.
If you work for commercial clients (or would like to), they may ask for your SLA compliance, or attainment, rate. Your SLA compliance rate is the percentage of time that you successfully meet the service level agreement.
Ex: If you had 100 jobs with an SLA, and you met all but two, your compliance rate would be 98%.
If you’re recording SLAs with a spreadsheet, attainment may be difficult to accurately track. Similarly, without the proper management tools, you may find your SLA compliance rate is nothing to write home about.
Service level agreement monitoring and reporting software is empowering! With records on each and every SLA, your team will always be aware of what’s going on. Beyond this, effective SLA monitoring can help you improve your compliance rate and offer your customers a better overall service.
SLA reports allow staff to look back on breached SLAs and assess what could have been done differently to achieve a better outcome. Knowing your SLA compliance rate, for example, will place you in a healthy position for future contract negotiations. Whether working with repeat, or new business, you can prove what your team is capable of.
With well-implemented SLA reporting, your business can benefit from added accountability and insight when working with SLAs.
4. Segmentation and Customization
Inflexible management software can sometimes cause more problems than it’s worth. When selecting a software to monitor service level agreements, pick a solution that’s customizable to your needs.
Ask these questions when looking for an SLA monitoring tool:
is there a logical way to assign which jobs have which SLA?
If you have a standard contract with standard SLAs, is there an easy way to create a reusable template for that?
Can you customize how long before a breach the warning notification is sent?
Segmentation is a great example of a customization that improves user experience.This will help you tailor service-level agreement monitoring to your business.
Not every job you do for a client will receive the same SLA. Some jobs may have no SLA at all. With segmentation, the system can automatically control which jobs are assigned to which SLAs. Such as only jobs marked ‘High Priority’, or just jobs with the description ‘Fire alarm emergency call out’, for example.
By doing this, you can ensure that when a matching job is created, the SLA will be applied without the team having to manually add it themselves.
Customizations like contract templates (which should include SLAs), are more tools that can help quickly get new accounts set up with service level agreement tracking.
Remember: software that isn’t customizable will only get you so far. You need to be able to make solutions work for your business’s unique challenges.
5. Multiple Metrics to Track
We’ve covered four must-have features for effective SLA monitoring, however, we’ve saved the most important for last.
It may seem obvious, but you need to actually be able to track the different types of SLA that your business offers. SLA monitoring software will likely have different SLA metrics hardcoded into them. And some won’t allow you to create your own. The question is, do they have the ones you need?
Most service level agreements are time-based. “We’ll have a team member on-site within five hours”, or to put it literally, “We’ll do X in Y time”.
From the system’s perspective, it needs to be able to measure the start action, the completion action, and the time between. If you offer complicated and specific SLAs, there may not be a software that can properly measure them for you.
There are, however, several standard SLAs to look out for:
Time to schedule a job – This is the time from a job record being created and it being scheduled into a technician’s calendar.
Time for technician on site – This is the time it takes from the job record being created and the tech arriving on site.
Time for completion – This is the time it takes from the job being added and it being marked as completed.
If the solution you are considering only offers one or a couple of these metrics, it may be worth looking for a more comprehensive software for your service level agreement monitoring and reporting.
Service Level Agreement Monitoring With Commusoft
Commusoft’s Job Management Software offers powerful SLA monitoring and reporting tools that include all of these must-have tools! With the right software supporting your team, maintenance businesses can improve their SLA compliance rate, reduce breach penalties, and strengthen customer satisfaction.