When you enter into an IT service and support contract, most companies will include a disclaimer in their contract known as the Service- Level- Agreement (SLA) for response times. So, why doesn’t Network Depot have them?
Normally, SLA response times consist of some type of list of expectation guidelines for different priority levels of problems.
For example, in a typical contract you might see that for any issue that is categorized as “Level 1”, the expected response time can be between 8-12 hours. This means that if a customer calls in with a level 1 issue, they can expect to wait around 8-12 hours before they hear from a technician.
Along with the expected response times will usually be an explanation of what type of issue is categorized within each level. For example, a Level 1 issue will be something that doesn’t interrupt the flow of work, that is only impacting one user, and that is not a very complicated issue. Something like one of the printers in the office is not working.
Meanwhile, a Level 4 problem will be categorized as an emergency, where the entire business is interrupted and there is a crisis, such as a server down or a fire.
In many contracts, these response times are going to be an over-estimation of the amount of time it will actually take to get a response. IT companies do this for a very simple reason- it helps protect them from a legal standpoint. In fact, citing SLA response times in general is a disclaimer of legalese that helps protect the IT Company from being sued. It gives them a piece of paper they can point at and say “But we got back to you within the time we said we would”.
When we show potential clients our contracts, they usually want to know about our response times, and the answer to that is pretty simple- it depends on the severity of your problem.
However, we know enough about running a business to understand that we can’t generalize our classifications, and they need to be taken on a case-by-case basis.
For example, is a server down always an emergency? Yes, of course. Is a printer not working always an emergency? No, but it can be. Normally SLA guidelines would qualify this as a non-urgent issue, but if it is the only printer in the office and you have a big presentation with an important client in 20 minutes, you can’t wait for someone to get back to you- you need help now. For us, that means your issue does qualify as an extremely important one, and we are going to help you get that presentation ready in time.
This is not to say that an IT company which does have SLA response times is going to give you bad support. In fact, many IT companies also use these SLA response times as an internal benchmark so that they can continually try and improve their service by beating these response times. It also doesn’t necessarily mean that they are not going to understand that sometimes a printer outage can constitute an emergency. All it means is that the company has mapped out a set of guidelines for the client that spells out the duration they can expect to wait for an issue to be addressed after it has been submitted.
We think that ours is a more common-sense approach than the typical SLA response times. Every organization is different, and is going to need different things. While a printer issue might be an emergency for one office, it might not matter to an office with multiple usable printers.
As for an internal benchmark, we believe the most important measurement is customer happiness, not response times, so we tend to measure ourselves by a different set of standards than a typical IT support company. But that’s another blog post.
So it’s actually pretty simple- if it’s important to you, it’s important to us. That’s how we measure our response times.