Service level agreements explained
What should you expect from your Sage Business Partner?
Datel’s Customer Support Director, Debra Leland, explains the importance of understanding your Sage Business Partner’s service level agreement - and why you should ask for visibility of how often they stick to it.
Whether you’re looking to implement a new business management solution or you’re evaluating the support services provided by your current Sage Business Partner, it’s important to understand standard practice for Sage technical support services.
To do this, we recommend you assess your Business Partner’s service level agreement and find out how frequently they keep this agreement across their customer base.
Understanding your Service Level Agreement
Your Sage Business Partner’s service level agreement (SLA) should detail what to expect when things don’t quite go to plan. A good agreement should be clear in detailing your partner’s response times to different kinds of issues, such as user errors or system downs.
To thoroughly grasp an SLA, it’s important to understand key industry words and phrases. As terminology can differ from partner to partner, we’ve produced a brief guide below to familiarise you with key support terms and help you fully understand your SLA.
‘Urgency Level’ is a way to categorise how important an issue is to the day-to-day running of your business. An issue’s urgency level is defined by your support partner when they receive the ticket. The urgency level assigned to your issue should determine how quickly they respond. More recent issues of higher importance should take priority over existing issues of a lower importance.
At Datel, we use the following urgency levels:
- System Down – these are the utmost priority, as ‘system down’ issues prevent your business from operating, the most critical issue a support provider receives.
- Business Critical – these issues have a significant impact on your ability to conduct business without completely interrupting your operations.
- Standard Issue – this level is applied when one or two users are affected by the issue and the problem isn’t having a financial impact on the business.
- Informational Issue – this is the lowest level of urgency, including issues with standard functionality or requests for information about the system.
Target Response Time – this is the time it takes your support partner to get in touch after you’ve logged an issue. When it comes to target response time, it’s important to note the following:
- Target response time isn’t how long it takes to receive an automated response or acknowledgement of receipt.
- Target response time should be how long it takes to receive a meaningful response that addresses your issue.
- A response should mean your support partner is already working to resolve your issue.
Target Resolution Time – this is the time it takes your support partner to resolve an issue and return your business to its normal working capacity after a ticket has been logged.
The higher your issue’s urgency level, the shorter the target response time and target resolution times should be.
It's also important to understand how your business partner closes a ticket - do they close it when they perceive they have given you a solution or do they wait for you to confirm you're happy and don’t need any further assistance before closing the call.
What to expect from your SLA with your partner
Your SLA should outline your partner’s expected response times, resolution times and how well they meet these times. At Datel, we work to the following targets with a 90% success rate:
- For System Down issues our support team will be in touch immediately, with the aim to have your system back up and running within 8 working hours.
- For Business Critical issues, you can expect an initial response within one working hour and have your issue resolved within 16 working hours.
- Standard Issues and Informational queries will receive an initial response within 2 hours and be resolved within 28 working hours and 40 working hours respectively.
A clear understanding of your SLA agreement is only half the picture, though. Targets set aren’t necessarily targets met, meaning it’s critical to know how often your partner fulfils its promises.
Why does Datel aim for 90% achievement? Well, there's a number of factors that can affect the resolution of tickets beyond Datel’s – or any partner’s – control. These factors include:
- Customer’s response time – Datel can only resolve an issue as quickly as the customer is able to respond to our updates, meaning a slower customer response time will result in slower issue resolution.
- Third-party expertise – there may be instances where certain issues are resolved by a third-party, who will set response time targets independently of Datel. These third-parties can include hardware providers, software vendors or add-on developers.
How to log an issue with your support partner
An effective support partner will provide multiple methods of logging an issue, giving you the flexibility to request assistance in a way that suits your business.
Datel offers the following:
- Calls - Datel's team of dedicated administration staff manage support calls. Should they be engaged, the call trips to all support consultants to ensure customers are never left in a queue or stalled by a recorded message.
- Email - email requests are actioned in real time, with a confirmation email containing a ticket reference as soon as the issue is logged on our system. This is to ensure customers know the issue is being handled - and not just sat in an inbox.
- Web logging - our web-logging system allows customers to submit an issue directly into our call-logging system in real time.
The proof is in the stats
Understanding your Business Partner’s SLA will give you the confidence to accurately assess their ability to meet targets and provide suitable support services for your business.
At Datel, we’re transparent about our ability to meet SLA targets. We share our response times, in addition to publishing monthly and annual reports.
Datel’s technical support team always looks to exceed targets, for example:
- The majority of calls received in 2017 had an initial response time between seven and sixteen minutes for all issue types .
- 99.7% of our initial response times for all urgency levels were within our SLA targets.
- 94% of issues were closed within our SLA target timeframe.
- One third of all tickets received in 2017 were closed within one working hour.
- 72% of all issues received by the desk were closed within the System Down time frame of 8 hours, regardless of the urgency level they were assigned.
Interested in understanding more about Datel’s support service?
Learn more about our support department from the following:
- Download the Datel Support Handbook for more information about our SLAs, how to log issues with us and our continual customer feedback.
- See for yourself what our customers think – Visit our Live feedback page.
- Come in and meet the team – book a visit to Datel’s Warrington office and meet with senior executives, including Datel’s Customer Support Director, Debra Leland.