SLAs, or making sure we honor the customer

Service Level Agreements (SLAs) help in so many ways to set the tone and help to define the relationships you have with your customers. That’s why BusRates uses one to help the vendors on the site manage potential customers expectations. Here is the definition and then how BusRates uses it.

As Defined by Wikipedia:

A Service Level Agreement (SLA) is a contract between a service provider (either internal or external) and the end user that defines the level of service expected from the service provider. SLAs are output-based in that their purpose is specifically to define what the customer will receive. [And when.]

And how BusRates deploys it:

Please be advised that the requestor is expecting your response within the next 2 business days, please respond to them with an indication of your intentions or with your quote.

You may have noticed that recently we’ve been putting a lot of emphasis on responding to quote requests. You may have not known it, but when you become a member/provider of BusRates you agreed to provide a service, which includes information when a customer asks for it. You agree to provide that information in a timely manner, or, as per the BusRates SLA in red above dictates. In this day and age, timelines have become compressed and people expect a response within moments of clicking submit, it’s what they’ve come to expect. Not all of us can respond that quickly but we should try to at least send a note explaining what the next steps will be.

BusRates sits at the convergence of that intersection of service and expectations and we’re trying to help manage those demands and keep everyone involved happy.

Service Level Agreements help to manage expectations
If you want to better manage your customers’ expectations, a service level agreement (SLA) is the tool of choice. An SLA is an agreement between a customer and a provider and is designed to create common ground about services, priorities, timelines, and responsibilities.

That being said, it’s important to manage your own expectations of what you can realistically provide or expect and by when. In most cases, as the operator, you can just respond with a price and a contact name and email address. In other cases, you’ll need to provide more detail or include other vendors, or you can also tell your potential customer that you will contact them for more info soon. No matter what direction you chose, silence in the face of a request is not a good response. So why would you be silent? Because you’re busy, incapable of responding (out on vacation), or not interested, I think we can all agree that in these cases silence is not a good option. So in steps the SLA, you can view it as a help or as a hindrance. There are businesses that view an SLA as a complaint-stifling mechanism or a quick fix to a troubled customer relationship, or as a hassle. Using it for such purposes, or regarding them as troublesome puts pressure on the business/customer relationship, a relationship that should be mutually beneficial.

So, why not think of an SLA as:

  • A communications tool.
  • A conflict-prevention tool.
  • An objective business effectiveness tool.

Be the company that embraces the SLA that you have with BusRates, respond as quickly as you can, and see it as a way to enhance your relationship with your new customers. Remember that Gen Y and Millennials live and work with a different understanding of time. Waiting for your response when it’s convenient to you is not an option for them, you respond on their time. That’s right, making your customer wait is anathema to modern digital business and has far-reaching effects, especially with the presence of social media. Not responding within a short period of time can ruin your brand’s image and BusRates image at the same time.