Find out about the many different types of Service Level Agreement (SLA) and the use-cases in which they could be used to help you manage customer expectations.
A number of different types of Service Level Agreement exist to serve different use-cases
The Service Level Agreement (SLA) document can be tailored to suit a number of different scenarios. To that end, there are several types of SLA document that can be used to suit the different requirements of each. The following list is by no means exhaustive and nor are they mutually exclusive. For example, a Customer Level SLA may also include elements of the Issue-Based SLA.
Customer SLA: This is an agreement with an individual customer. You may use these if you provide bespoke service levels to different customers that will be negotiated on a case-by-case basis. You may also use these to prioritise support for your most important or valuable customers. If not developed as part of the negotiations of a sale, it can be useful to work with your account managers and customer-facing teams to help inform the writing of this document.
The Customer SLA may need to consider a range (or all) of the services that are consumed by a single customer. Usually, these would be looked after by either a multi-level SLA or, by having a unique SLA for each of your services. However, in some circumstances, a client may require a bespoke SLA to define a unique customer/technical support arrangement.
Service SLA: This service agreement would be used when offering the same service levels to all the customers of a particular service. It is written in a way that clearly defines how you commit to supporting the needs and priorities of the service’s customers. To deliver an SLA that delivers value for your customers, it can help to consider what your customer’s needs are. Use your customer value proposition to help inform the writing of this document, as well as feedback from customer-facing teams.
It might be necessary to have a range of Service SLA documents that reflect the range of service levels that you offer, e.g. Gold, Silver and Bronze. Or you could combine these in to a single Multi-Level SLA document (see below).
Multi-level SLA or Multi-Service SLA: There are two approaches to this document. First, a Multi-Level SLA. This describes the different service commitments offered to different sets of customers. Different groups of customers have different needs, and by tailoring your support levels to each group you can create a more competitive service offering (as it will be priced accordingly). These customers may sit in different markets (e.g. Healthcare or Financial Services OR, Business users, Vs End-users) but all use the same service or software. Alternatively, you may split your users into Gold, Silver or Bronze service tiers, Again, each will be charged at a different price point.
The second approach, the Multi-Service SLA, allows you to integrate the different service levels that you offer for each of your services into a single document. A customer’s contract would then explicitly define which of the service levels (or tiers) applies for the fulfilment and delivery of the services to them.
Corporate SLA: This single document covers all Service Level Management (SLM) issues that may arise across all services and all customer groups. It will also detail how ‘gaps’ in service level delivery or performance will be addressed. This could be the best approach for organisations that have only one service or, more likely, where the service demands of an organisation’s customer base are fairly straightforward (e.g. a company that sells mainly products and offers a basic support service for product-related support or warranty enquiries).
Customer Level SLA or Market Level SLA: Covers all Service Level Management (SLM) issues that apply to a particular customer group or market segment. This is similar to the ‘Multi-Level SLA’ example given above.
Issue-based SLA: This type of agreement covers the types of response and response times that can be expected for a particular type of support ticket or outage. For example, more urgent “Priority One” (P1) issues (i.e. a service outage that is impacting the customer’s operations) will necessitate a larger response and faster resolution time than a “Priority 3” issue (that would not have an impact on the customer’s operations).
[/end of article]
More resources for the SLA business document:
SLA Service level agreement template and downloads
See an example of a Service Level Agreement and download a template to tailor and publish. The template includes an agreement overview, stakeholders, review schedule, the agreement (including scope, requirements for the provider and the customer) and the management of the service. The template is downloadable as a PDF, InDesign or Word file.
Service Level Agreement (SLA) document template >
DEFINITION: SERVICE LEVEL AGREEMENT
What is a service level agreement?
A Service Level Agreement (SLA) is a business document that defines the level of service offered (by a service provider) to their customer. An SLA provides each party with an understanding of the services, priorities, responsibilities and guarantees that make up the service. The document can also emphasise any right to compensation or penalties for underperformance that may be entitled to one or both parties.
CHECKLIST: WHAT TO INCLUDE IN A SLA document
What to include in your service level agreement?
The SLA document should make clear who and what is in scope. Other aspects for inclusion are information on nominal service levels, service level monitoring, response times, and key contacts. Selection of KPIs is crucial to driving desirable behaviours in the service provider, and ensuring that customers will be happy with the service they receive.