There have been many conversations over the years with service center leaders about their Service Level Agreements (SLA ’a). The specific point in question was whether or not they publicized their SLA’s to their customer base. And if they did, did they also report how well and often they met their SLA targets?
In 3rd party service centers and BPO’s, legally-binding SLA’s are standard practice. But within the captive service center – those managed in-house instead of outsourced to a 3rd party – there is frequently no legally-binding contract between the service provider (e.g. the HR service center) and the customer (the employee). This leaves lots of latitude to decide how to proceed with SLA’s.
It's surprising to hear the number of service centers who have chosen to keep the SLA’s internal for benchmarking purposes, rather than to share them with their customer base. Holding your SLA’s close to your vest may not be such a wise strategy these days...
There are three reasons why SLA’s and their compliance numbers should be made public. In a word, those reasons are transparency, trust and improvement.
There is a higher level of obligation today to openly share performance information with your customer base. As a SaaS vendor, we are routinely asked, and often required to share our performance metrics (e.g. the percentage of time that our cloud-based solutions are accessible to the customer). But aside for this increased obligation to be transparent, transparency on its own creates value. Joel Gascoine, founder and CEO of Buffer, identifies 4 benefits of transparency.
- Transparency breeds trust.
- Transparency helps with innovation as a company grows
- Transparency leads to greater justice
- You open yourself up to more feedback
Transparency begets trust. If you’re known for openly sharing information, you’re less likely to be questioned, and more likely to be trusted. People and organizations that don’t openly share information tend to have less healthy relationships than those who do. Information sharing breeds trust, and if you read last week’s article, you understand the value of trust in marketing your shared service center.
When your performance metrics are out in the open for all to see, you’re naturally driven to improve your performance over time. This is a basic tenet of goal setting: sharing your goals with others makes you more likely to accomplish your goals. Similarly, if you share your SLA targets with the customer, you’re more likely to meet and exceed the SLA deadlines. Nobody wants to be seen as an underperformer.
If you’re a captive shared service center, openly sharing your SLA’s and performance metrics with your customers demonstrates transparency, builds trust and can incent you to improve your performance. And who wouldn’t agree with those benefits?