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5 Ways to Improve Your MSP Service Level Agreement (SLA)

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5 Ways to Improve Your MSP Service Level Agreements (SLAs)

SLAs are the foundation of your MSP business. They are essential to building strong client relationships and must be clear, reasonable and well-constructed.

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Make Your IT Service Delivery As Predictable as Groundhog Day

Posted February 4, 2016by Jaq Baldwin

While no one would want to experience the ongoing living nightmare Phil Connors (played by Bill Murray) did in the 1992 film, Groundhog Day (I know you watched it Tuesday), a lot of the businesses I work with express a strong desire for predictability when it comes to IT services and support. Many times they just want to know when to expect a return call, when they can be back up and running, or when their projects can be completed. My team and I work hard to make our managed services support as predictable as possible every day, but we know it's a constant challenge.

So as a valuable MSP you may be wondering how you can make your IT service delivery as predictable as Phil waking up each morning to "I've Got You Babe" by Sonny and Cher at 6 am on February 2nd. Improving service delivery times and predictability is an ongoing process for any MSP, but at Southern Data Solutions we have learned a thing or two from our managed services offering over the past 12 years. Here are some ways to give your customers more accurate responses to service requests, cut down wait times and be an IT hero that's as predictable as Punxatawney Phil.

 

Crafting an SLA You Can Stand By

If you are winning business by guaranteeing a quicker response time than your potential customers' current IT provider, that response time had better be something you can actually stand by. That's why a thoughtfully and carefully crafted service level agreement (SLA) will speak directly to how you will specifically fulfill all their support requests in a timely fashion. At Southern Data Solutions we do this with Priority, Remote Support and Visibility. 

Priority

Create the right expectation. This is the first way to ensure you meet requests in a way that your customer will see as predictable and beyond satisfactory. I create the right expectation for my customers by sharing with them a priority chart that helps them understand what to expect when they have an issue and subsequently enter a ticket. I inform my customer up front that each ticket they create will be entered with a priority assignment that represents a hierarchy for their request. Not all service tickets are equal in terms of how quickly they need to be resolved but all tickets are, in fact, important. For example, a printer being down may be an inconvenience in the short term and can be fixed before the end of the day. On the other hand, a server outage needs immediate attention and will require a response time right away. In short, we assign a response time that coordinates to the severity of the ticket that's being submitted.  

Remote Support

Our team of stable support engineers is made up of onsite and remote technicians. With this healthy mix, we sort tickets quickly, categorizing by what can be addressed remotely and what requires an onsite engineer. When it comes to being predictable and ensuring service requests are handled quickly, this gives us a huge advantage. By using tools like Continuum's RMM Agent and running scripts that can quickly remediate many known issues, we are able to predictably keep wait times on service requests down and respond when we say we will. 

Also, we assign our onsite technicians to geographical territories, according to their commute or committed onsite scheduled visits. We then track them within our own internal scheduling tools (we use ConnectWise for service scheduling) and are able to quickly dispatch according to availability and location.

Visibility

Lastly, we give our customers a look at their ticket progress, a crucial step in helping them see that their IT support relationship with us is predictable and reliable. We give our managed services customers a log in to a Customer Portal (also through ConnectWise), which lets them submit tickets, monitor status and read technician notes associated with support tickets. This policy of customer visibility not only allows us to build trust and accountability, but by increasing awareness and engagement, customers get better real time estimates on the status of their support tickets and larger IT projects.
 

There's a lot that goes into building a business practice that operates more like clockwork than fire fighting. To make support efficient and predictable, your MSP will need to invest the right time and tools so as to meet customer timelines and expectations daily.

 

Does your RMM solution help you deliver predictable IT?

RMM 101: Must-haves for Your IT Management Solution  

Jaq Baldwin is a Sales Professional at Southern Data Solutions in Alpharetta, Georgia. He loves working with his customers to provide IT solutions that reduce risk, cost, and liability while increasing productivity and better use of technology in the business world. He loves running, blogging, and watching terrible Sci-Fi movies late at night. Follow him @JaqTech, visit his blog Marathon Sales, or his company Southern Data Solutions to stay in touch.

RMM 101: Must-haves for Your IT Management Solution
MSP Guide to Managed Services SLAs  [white paper]
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