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Are SLA Breaches Inevitable?


Service level agreements set the standard for deliverables and ensure that customers get what they pay for. But, what happens when the service quality doesn't quite match up to what's on paper? Most business executives agree that SLA breaches are relatively common. Companies make big promises initially, but very few of them can live up to them. Does that mean SLA breaches are inevitable, and what does this mean for emergency business communications?

What Are Common Causes of Service Level Agreement Breaches?

A breach occurs when a company fails to deliver the agreed-upon services or products. Here are some common examples:

  • Failing to meet the desired uptime percentage

  • Failing to respond to queries within the agreed-upon time

  • Failing to resolve issues within the agreed-upon time

Before accepting failure as inevitable, look closely at the contributing factors.

1. Complexity and Uncertainty in System Designs

This can manifest in many ways, such as a lack of clarity around system requirements or an inability to adapt quickly to changing conditions. Sometimes, your work processes include too many moving parts without proper structure. In these cases, the company may need to reorganize critical work processes.

2. You Rely on Manual Emergency Communications

Does your company manually send alerts, such as emails or text messages? Manual methods can be slow and unreliable when something urgent arises. The necessity of manual personnel transmission also forces companies to rely on the calm and timely response of workers under pressure. What happens if the person fails to escalate the issue?

3. Redundant or Overlapping Communications Systems

Choosing several effective communication methods is essential, but using too many can lead to a decrease in speed. It can also heighten confusion surrounding who should handle what issue and how to communicate with relevant parties. Too many different transmissions can also cause bloat, leading to missed deadlines and disruptions in service.

4. Failure To Evaluate Previous Incidents

Companies need to understand the root cause of past issues and take steps to prepare for them in the future. Proactive planning is the only way to minimize risks like downtime or customer dissatisfaction. Companies need an established process for completing thorough reviews after resolving the issue.

What Can Companies Do To Reduce the Risk of SLA Breaches?

Mistakes are inevitable, but they do not necessarily equal SLA breaches. Speedy responses and effective resolutions can turn even the most challenging problems into big successes that clients will remember for all the right reasons. Here are some best practices to keep in mind.

1. Set Realistic Goals

Be honest with yourself and the client about what you can achieve within a realistic timeline. This means understanding your team's capabilities and your customer’s expectations. Outline an achievable plan without sacrificing desired deliverables.

2. Prioritize Quality

It's easy to get caught up in delivery speed, but don't let it come at the expense of quality. This is especially important in emergencies where haste could endanger customer safety or hurt your reputation. For example, timely updates are important but focusing on the resolution is more critical to success than sending five additional methods describing what’s next.

3. Set Parameters for Stopping the Clock

Sometimes, SLA breaches are entirely out of your control. You might promise to resolve technical issues in 24 hours, but what happens if your client takes longer to grant permission for some of the required solutions? You may choose to suspend the time requirements of the SLA. Always document incidents that led to the temporary suspension of SLA criteria.

4. Integrate Multiple Functions

Ideally, you connect your monitoring systems and your communication systems. When they work together, they share data. This reduces the likelihood of lag in sending out alerts and eliminates the need for manual intervention at the communications level.

5. Leverage the Power of Automation

Use technology to automate detection and response wherever possible. This also speeds up response times and boosts accuracy by eliminating manual intervention. You can always trust bots to respond as programmed, even under pressure. Automation also works well for escalation and standardized communication.

6. Establish Multi-Modal Alerts

Having multiple alert systems in place can help reduce the likelihood of a service disruption. If something goes wrong via one channel, the other option might still work. Consider text messages, email notifications, and push notifications for maximum coverage.

7. Streamline Internal Communications and Reduce Bureaucracy

There's a reason flatter organizational structures lead to faster business operations. This structure speeds up the decision-making process and keeps communication lines clear. Reducing bureaucracy makes it easier for your team to focus on problem-solving for the client instead of catering to fears erupting at the management level.

8. Establish Non-IT Communication Lines

Management and other stakeholders will want updates on progress while solutions are underway. Every second spent fielding these responses takes away from resources spent on solving the problem. Consequently, you need communication lines for customers, business partners, and managers to get the information they need.

How HipLink's Wireless Alert Management System Can Help

HipLink provides the necessary technology to streamline operations and automate your communication efforts. When you need the message to arrive on time and intact, we've got you covered. Fast, reliable, and secure communication is critical to your company's ability to uphold its service level agreement. Our managed services also make it easy for you to take a hands-off approach and focus on your core strengths while we focus on ours.

So, is an SLA breach inevitable? Some companies view the SLA as an ideal model rather than something they can truly achieve. Still, if you set realistic goals, focus on providing the best service, and partner with experienced service providers, you can uphold your end of the bargain more often than not.

Accomplishing these goals and more starts with a deeper understanding of what contributes to SLA agreements and how to overcome those challenges. Download our eBook to learn more.

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