The language of Service Levels Agreements (SLAs) suggests these are promises made to customers around the service performance you are providing. As such you might think this would be common knowledge. Especially in an age where every brand automatically puts up their hand when asked if service is a differentiator for them. If so, then why not let the world know?
Unfortunately, finding out what to expect from an organisation’s service proposition is not easy. This is because SLAs have been used mainly for internal tasks such as resource planning and upline reporting. This is true for all shades of customer service.
Thus advertising what customers can expect is not as common as it ought to be. Compared for instance to the sophistication of product labelling which will tell you in great detail what you are getting.
Nonetheless some of the best Twitter service accounts will define opening hours, alternative service channels and languages spoken. Even better, @KLM remains unique in providing their current estimated wait time for service.
The reasons for urging transparency and excellence in service performance are as follows:
- One of the recurring headlines from the social customer service industry is responsiveness. Or rather the lack of it. Global averages for recognising and responding to service requests still hover between 60%-70%. Wait times are often 6-7 hours. Consumer research screams the opposite. Of course, more mature sectors such as retail and travel often provide individual examples much closer to real time. The standards are only going to rise. So where do you want to be positioned?
- Given how easy it is to generate service league tables, it is an obvious prediction to see more comparative analysis and headline reporting in the future. This becomes a battleground in which losing looks lousy. Does this matter?
- On the positive, social engagement has greater consequence in how customers can amplify their experiences to others. Delivering the right SLAs is how to turn your service performance into a marketing asset and build advocacy. This starts with making yourself accountable for delivering a certain level of performance. Are you up for that level of challenge?
For all these reasons, SLAs are no longer an internal operational guide. They are part of the marketing effort to win hearts and minds. They matter. In that context surely being the best is the only aspiration worth setting?
Other competencies in the framework for social customer service excellence can be accessed in ‘Related Content’.