Webinar: SLAs – How to Meet Your Customer Expectations

sla-customer-expectations copy

Service level agreements, or SLAs, are integral to any service-based industry. Most customer support teams use them to ensure customer expectations are met.

But can SLAs can be used for more?

Join Customer Advocate-SME Sandeep Kaur and Technical Advocate-SME Kushal Sharma as they walk through:

  • Why support teams use SLAs
  • How you can decide on SLAs for your specific team
  • How you can know your SLAs are right
  • How SLAs & Escalations help support teams


Webinar transcript and slides

Service Level Agreement Best Practices: How to Meet Your Customer Expectations

A – Alicia

K – Kushal

S – Sandeep

A – On behalf of the Kayako team, welcome to today’s webinar.  Today we’re going to show you how to use SLAs, which stands for Service Level Agreements to ensure that you’re meeting your customer expectations.  Now if you’re not using SLAs, but you still want to make sure that you’re meeting your customer expectations, don’t worry this webinar is still going to be a really great resource for you.  So I hope everyone is comfortable and we can get started.  But first, in case any of you are new to Kayako, let’s briefly review who we are as a company.

Who is Kayako?  Kayako is a customer service software company that is built to scale as you grow.  We’ve been around for over 14 years, we have over 140 employees working fully committed to make sure that our customers are getting better at customer service and not just supplying a software platform.  As most of you listening in on this presentation are probably customers, hopefully you know by now that the Kayako support team is readily available for you to help ensure that you are successful in your roles.  You can always reach us through email at support@kayako.com, via live chat and of course the Kayako Help Centre and the forums.

So, without further ado, let’s get started.  My name is Alicia, and I’m a product marketing manager here at Kayako, and now I have the pleasure of turning it over to my colleagues Kushal and Sandeep, and they’re going to introduce themselves to you, so Kushal, why don’t you take it away.

K – Hi everyone, thank you for joining us today.  My name is Kushal and I will be answering your questions in this webinar.  If there are any questions you would like to ask, please drop them in the GoToWebinar questions window and I will be happy to talk to you at the end.  Now some people will take it further to talk about SLS, Sandeep over to you.

S – Hey everyone this is Sandeep.  I work as a customer advocate at Kayako and one thing I absolutely love about my job is helping people.  So today we are going to talk about SLAs.  What is an SLA?  An SLA is basically a contract to provide service within an agreed timeframe.  Different industries have different terminology to explain SLAs, some of them call it customer response metrics, and different industries have different names.  Usually when someone says the word SLA, it is linked with the service industry, but overall it is spread across all the industries in different ways.  Even if it is a retail industry, the timeframe that you give to your customers to deliver the product to them is a kind of SLA that you have for your customers.  So, no matter which type of industry you are from, or which kind of business you are from, knowingly or unknowingly, there is somewhere that you are linked with the topic, which is SLA.  So, this is what we will cover in today’s webinar.

So the main things that we are going to talk about are, ‘why do we need SLA’ and, ‘how do you determine an SLA’.  When I say ‘why’, so the question that we need to ask ourselves is ‘why do I need a time frame to provide the service within to my customer?’, ‘why do I have to have a clock ticking over my head?’ let’s say, and ‘why do I have to be answerable to my customers when I have to provide service to them?’.  Once we answer those questions, the next question that we need to answer is ‘how do you draw the line?’.  How do you determine what is the agreement that you have to sign with your customers?  How do you decide as a business, based in central London, that you have to give this timeframe to deliver products to your customers who are based in West London, or who are based in the East part of your city or any other part of the city?  So how do you decide that?  So, we will be answering both these questions, why SLAs, and how do you determine SLAs.   And before we go any further, throughout the webinar when we talk about these things, I want you to think about your business.  When we talk about each and every point, I want you to relate it to your business and see how does it impact you, or how it can impact you, and how it can create value for your business.  So these are the things that I want you to think about the business throughout the webinar, and maybe post your questions side-by-side, so if there is anything that you think that how it relates to your business, you can always post your questions in the GoToWebinar meeting message box.

So first of all we are going to talk about why we need SLAs.  Because we need SLAs, because they create value for your customers.  And we’ll talk about the values that they create for your customers.  To start with, if you have an SLA plan in place, it helps you to set the right expectations for your customers.  Let me explain it with an example.  So let’s say you are in retail business and you have your customers placing orders online through your website, and when they place an order, you give them a confirmation that your order would be delivered within 24 hours.  So that is the kind of SLA that you provide to your customers.  In that case, you set the right expectation for your customer because the customer knows that he has to wait for 24 hours for the delivery to be made to his doorstep.  It’s in that case you are setting right expectations, and imagine that if you have no SLA plan in place, and the customer places an order from your website and he doesn’t know when to expect the delivery and when to hear back from you.  In that case, you’re leaving the customer in the dark and the customer has no knowledge about how or when to expect the delivery.  So in that case, if you have an SLA in place, you are setting the right expectation for your customer as to when he can expect to hear back from you, or when he can expect to get his order delivered, or when can we expect to get his system back up, depending on the nature of your business.

Once you set right expectation, the next thing it leads to is less friction.  Because you have already said the expectation, that means the customer knows when to expect it.  He doesn’t need to come back and contact you every now and then about the status of his request that he has logged with you, or about the status of his delivery about his product that has purchased from you.  And the reason being because he doesn’t need to contact you from time and again for an update, that means it leads to less friction.  Because you have an SLA plan in place, this means all your staff members are aware of it and they would all be giving a unified answer to your customer that, ‘this is the timeframe we have set for this kind of request and this is when you can expect to hear back from us’, whereas if there is no SLA plan in place, and all your support team members, all your staff members, are not aware of any SLA plan in place, they could be answering different answers to the customer when he contacts you through different channels.  In that case, the customer might get irritated that he is getting different answers from different people, but the problem is this is happening because you don’t have an agreement in place by which you have to stick to.  So in that case, if you have an SLA in place it leads to less friction when dealing with your customers and their requests.

Next up is ‘measuring success’.  So if you have an agreement in place your customers know how to review this service that they have received from you.  So let’s say you have 24 hours deadline to deliver the product that they have purchased from your website and the customer knows that if it is delivered within 10 hours, or 12 hours of the of the agreement that they have signed, that means you have provided a good service to them.  In that case they know how to review you against something.  So this is how it helps you to measure success, as in how much value you have created for your customer, or how much value as a business you have created for yourself, because you have created value to the customer.  It is these customers who bring value back to the business.

Next up, if you have an SLA in place, that means you are never going to miss a deadline.  Let me explain that with an example.  So let’s consider that you are an IT department within a company, and you deal with different kinds of requests.  Let’s say you have requests to deal with for example, the telephone is not working, or the laptop is broken, or there’s a new joiner in a different department during the next week, or there is someone who is leaving the company and you have requests coming in.  So imagine if you’re handling all of this through emails, so you have to go through emails and it leads to a lot of time wastage because you don’t know who is working on which email, and there’s a lot of overlapping of work that happens because of that image.  Now if we switch that to a ticketing tool or a helpdesk where you have SLAs in place, that means everything gets sorted on its own.  So let’s say there is a new joiner in a department and the manager logs our request, new joiner request, with your IT department. When you have an SLA in place, every time there is a new joiner, and the request is logged with the IT department, you need a minimum of five days to fulfil that request.  The reason being you have to get the assets ready, you have to get the different accounts ready, you have to get everything required for the person or different kinds of accesses that you need to give to the new joiner.  In all that, you need a minimum of five days to get everything up to the mark.  In that case, once you have set the deadline for the all kinds of new joiner requests, that means the manager who is going to log a request is aware that he has to log a request five days prior to the person joining his team.  Whereas if you don’t have an SLA in place, there are chances the manager might send in a request or an email a day before the person is about to start work, and in that case, you might very much miss a deadline because the email might have come at the last hour and you don’t have enough time to get everything up to the mark to get the person started on his first day at work.  So, this is where SLAs create value to your customers.  Now these customers can be both external or internal as I mentioned in this one example for you.

If you have SLAs in plan, then you have the possibility to prioritize your customers.  So, let’s say you have different SLA plans and you have premium customers who pay extra to your business because they want the service to be quick, they want everything to be answered and returned on time as quickly as possible.  In that case, you can have an SLA plan in place called premium SLA plan which your customers can buy from you.  In that case you’re creating a premium value for your customers, whereas you can have your usual SLA plans in place, as well as your usual agreement where, let’s say if someone buys a premium SLA plan from you, that means you are returning the service within two hours, and if someone buys a casual SLA plan from you, that means you are returning the request in four hours for that person, or for that customer.  In that case, you’re creating different kinds of values for your customers.  In this case when we say premium and non-premium, you’re still creating value for your customer because it could be that someone is starting a new business and they are not able to afford the premium one right now, they can still go for the non-premium one, but in a way, it is creating a value for your business.  So, these are the values which SLAs, or the service level agreements bring to your customers.  It could be setting the right expectations, because they know upfront how much time it will take to deal with your request, the next one is less friction, because they don’t have to keep coming back to you for an update on their request, and they have something to measure you against.  Then you never miss a deadline, that is everything is taken care of itself because the SLA keeps ticking, and when it goes over, you are notified that this has gone overdue and it needs your attention.  Finally, you get to prioritize your customers as premium/non-premium or different categories of SLAs that you can create for your customers.  So that’s all about creating values to your customer through the SLAs.

 

So first we understood the ‘why we need an SLA’, because it creates value, next, as promised, we are going to talk about ‘how do you determine what an SLA should be?’ e.g. what the agreement should be like, and where do you draw the line?  Whether you say two hours, or how do you decide whether it should be four hours or if it should be six hours?  How do you decide that?  What should be the basis for that?  So to start with, the first thing that you can start with if you are starting from scratch, you can look at industry standards so let’s say you are in the finance industry and you have to stick to certain compliances.  In that case, because you have to stick to industry standards, you can look at the other companies around you and what kind of SLAs do they provide, or you can do research on that and follow the industry standards.  The thing to be kept in mind is there are other factors too, even when you go for industry standards, there are other factors which will always influence when you decide the SLA plans.  We’ll talk about them later.  One of the benefits that you get if you stick to industry standards, is that you clearly get to compare yourself against what other companies in the same industry are performing at, or what level they are at.  Because at the end of the day, the reason why we have SLAs in place, and why we measure them, is because we want to see where we stand against the other companies, where we stand the other people in the same industry.  Let’s say if the industry standards say that 92% is the maximum that the industry is meeting when it comes to SLAs, and you end up making it 93%, you can easily boast, ‘that’s what I have’, or you perform better than the overall industry that you are in so in that case you get to compare yourself against the other companies.

The other factor, or the other way to determine an agreement, is that you can talk to your customers. When I say talk to your customers, it may not be possible it for every kind of business to talk to your customer and decide on an SLA, again it depends on the kind of business that you are in.  So, let’s say you are a freelancer and you deal with one customer at a time, and what you can do is you can talk to the customer and sign an agreement, or come to an agreement that this is the timeframe within which I would deliver the product to you, or this is the minimum time for my needs to get started, or any kind of discussion that you want to have with your customer.  So that’s another kind of way that you can decide on an SLA, you can talk to your customer depending on the nature of your business, or because this is clearly not possible if you have thousands of customers, you can’t go out and talk to each one of them and decide on an estimate.  So again, clearly it depends on the nature of business that you are in.

Next up is, look at your team’s capacity when deciding an SLA plan.  This is quite an important one.  As one of our own customers, when we ask them about how they set SLAs in their company, one of the best practices that he shared is that, don’t set them by what you think they should be but how they work in your organization, and what time do you realistically need for that?  So he clearly meant that you can decide on any other factor, but at the end of the day, it depends on your team’s capacity.  You may go for industry standards, but one thing that comes into action is that it could be that the other company has 20 people, and you have 10 people dealing with the same number of requests.  So this won’t be the right comparison that you can make.  In that case, your team’s capacity comes into action; it plays a very important role.  In this case when I say, ‘look at your team’s capacity’, what I mean is that you have to look at the workload that your team needs to handle and what sort of work that they need to deal with.  Do they deal with the deliveries, are you in the retail sector, do they deal with the network – that they have to keep the network running all the time – do they deal with the system or software, what kind of business do they deal with, and how many people do you have looking after this kind of request?  So it all comes into action, so instead of burdening them with strict SLAs because you have to stick to industry standards, it’s always wise to look at your team’s capacity first, and then you can always work around that.

When you decide on an SLA, there are different kinds of SLAs, so it could be service based, it can be customer based, so depending on the kind of SLA that you’re going to sign, or the SLA that you are going to provide to your customers, you can decide which one you want to go with.  When we say service-based in the service based SLA, if you’re going to sign a service-based SLA, in that case you need to think about the situations that can come in the nature of your business.  Let’s say you provide a network service to your customers, and all of them use the same service, and imagine all of a sudden, the network goes down.  That means you could be dealing with hundreds of requests at a time, and being realistic, you should be able to keep that in mind that if that happens, would you be able to handle hundreds of requests with an agreement of two hours of returning to every request?  So, it is this kind of thing that you need to keep in mind when you decide on an SLA.  If it is service-based SLA, that means you need to think about how many customers you support, and do you support all of them on the same level, and how are you going to deal with them if you have hundreds of requests coming to you in an hour or so, when the service goes down.  This is the thing that you need to keep in mind when you decide on an SLA which is service based.

Next is customer based, so in this case as we talked about premium SLA plans and non-premium customers etc.  If you’re going to set an SLA based on a customer, that means for a particular organization, let’s say Amazon Web services, and they have different customers, they could be signing a particular contract with a particular organization.  In that case, they are setting a customer based SLA, where you can very much talk to your customer if you have to, and then depending on how much impact to your service this can have on a customers’ business, you can always negotiate or talk to the customer and then decide accordingly.  So this is all about how you decide on an SLA.  You look at the industry standards and then you talk to your customers depending on nature of your business and you always keep in mind your team’s capacity – how much workload can they handle, because you don’t want to compromise on the quality of the service that you provide – so it is better to under promise and over deliver.

Finally, service based and customer based – what kind of SLAs are you going to sign with your customers – that also comes into action.   So, this is all about how you decide on an SLA for your support team.  Now that we have decided on the SLAs that we want for different kinds of requests or services that we provide, we need to see whether we made the right decision.  How do we do that? How do we know that we have made the right decision?  We have signed an agreement with the customer that for every request that you log with us, or for every order that you purchase from our website, or for every internal request that you place for a broken printer or a broken laptop, how do I measure that I did the right thing?  In that case, this is the continuous cycle that you always need to follow.  SLAs are never stagnant, they’re always changing depending on the situations, depending on the various factors that you have.  It could be that today you have 10 members providing support, tomorrow it could be 5, or it could be 12 tomorrow, so in that case you have to keep recycling these kinds of things.  The cycle that it says is, you decide an SLA plan, then you measure it over time, you collect data over time, so let’s say you have started with an SLA plan for a new joiner request of five days.  You gather data for the next six months for all the new joiner requests that come in and then you analyse that data.

We’ll talk more about analysing data later, that is what can you do with that data that you collect.  So you analyse that data based on what you collect over the six months after you implement the SLA plan, and you decide whether five days was enough for a new joiner request that comes in, or does it have to be three, or does it have to be seven?  So that’s how you analyse data, once you implement things.  Then you refine it, and depending on that, once you do the analysis, you refine the data whether it needs to be changed, or whether it’s good to go as it is.  This is a continuous cycle that you always run within your organization, or for your business, to always stay on top of things.

So how do SLAs work in Kayako, or how do you set them up?  When we started, the main reason why we have SLAs in place is because we want to create value to our customers.  How do we create that value?  I’ll walk you through all of these tips regarding how you set them all up, and we’ll share the relevant documents that you would need to set up SLAs in Kayako, so everything would be shared with you at the end.  When I talk about customizable schedules, what happens is you don’t want the SLAs to be ticking and going overdue when it is your offline hours.  From customizable schedules, what you can do is you can decide the SLA to run only during your working hours.  Let’s say you operate 9am to 5pm, and what you would ideally want is that that SLA takes only from 9am to 5pm and it stops at 5 o’clock when you close the business. You don’t want it to go overdue, and if it goes overdue while you’re offline or while your off-work hours, what happens is it will impact your stats. It will show that you’re missing deadlines all the time, which is not correct because it is going overdue when it is your off-business hours.  It’s in that case these customizable schedules will help you because you can set them up as 9-5, 10-7, 11-8 or 24 hours depending on your business hours.

Next, we have vast set of criteria based on which you can set the SLA plan.  When you set an SLA plan, or when you want that the ticket that comes in should have an SLA plan implemented, it is it is implemented based on particular criteria.  That criteria can be set up when you set up an SLA plan, and you have a long list of criteria that you can choose from.  You can choose an SLA based on the priority of the ticket, so let’s say you want that every ticket which comes in with high priority should have a reply deadline of two hours, so that’s pretty much possible with the criteria available.  Or as we talked about premium customers, if you have premium SLA plans that you sign with your customers, for example, 10 people who bought your premium SLA plans from you and you want to group them together so that whenever their requests come in, the premium SLA gets applied on them.  So you group them into a user group and then, based on the user group, you set up an SLA plan.  So there are different criteria that you can use as part of the SLA plans in Kayako.

Next, you have custom holidays.  Let’s say you are part of a global team which has members in the Americas or Europe or in Asia, or different parts of the world, and they all have different holidays as well, so there could be global holidays and they could be regional holidays.  What Kayako lets you do is, you can link holidays with SLA plans.  That means, if a staff member or the customer is based in that region, the SLA plan would not take place, and if it is a holiday in that region, the SLA plan would not take place during that time.

Next is user-based and organization based.  It could be that there is a group of users you want to group together and give them an SLA, or it could be that you want to set an SLA plan for one particular user.  So what happens is, if you set a user based SLA plan in Kayako, it will always override the other SLA plans and the person would always get the SLA plan assigned to him.  You can provide premium service to one particular customer, if you have to.  Next is organization based; it is similar to user based, and again it will override if you have it in place.  So in that case, what happens is, for example you have 10 people from a particular organization, and this organization decides to buy a specialist elite plan from you and then what you can do is, when you enter their organization into our helpdesk, you can link in a SLA plan with the organization.  So any person who belongs to that organization would have this SLA plan linked with their organization implemented on all of their tickets.  In that case, again you can provide customized service to your customers.

So that’s how Kayako brings value to SLAs, because it gives you a lot of customization to be able to add different kinds of SLAs and a different criteria and also to meet the needs of your global teams which are spread across.  These are the different kind of things which you can do to SLAs in Kayako.

Next up is escalations.  Usually what happens is, depending on the nature of the business, some of the people, they may not use escalations.  They may only stick to SLAs, but if you happen to use escalations along with SLAs, you can unleash a lot of efficiency in your business processes, or overall business.  I’ll explain how that can be achieved.  Usually what happens is, escalations they are pretty much part of the SLAs, and when you have SLAs, the reason why you set an SLA is because you want to track the timeframe within which you provide the service.  If you fail to provide the service, there should be something, because at the end of the day, if you’re not tracking it, if you’re not tracking the SLA and you’re not tracking any action once the SLA goes overdue, then you’re not unleashing the complete potential of the SLAs.  So if you have escalations in place, that means you can do a lot more with the SLAs in place.  So this is why you would always hear that they go hand in hand with the SLAs.

In Kayako, you can have different kinds of escalations e.g. you can decide an escalation based on reply due time, that is if the reply time provided in the SLA plan is missed.  That means you can escalate a ticket, or you can decide it based on the resolution.  Let’s say you missed the resolution defined in the SLA plan, you can escalate it based on that.  So there are different things based on which you can escalate a ticket once the SLA has been missed, whether it is the reply you missed or the resolution due time which is missed.  When I say it can bring in a lot of efficiency, it is automated tasks that I’m talking about.  There are quite a lot of automated tasks that you can perform as part of the escalations.  I will walk you through each one of them.  Let’s say you have a ticket escalated, and as part of your automated task, you can add the tag saying ‘escalated’, and then at the end of the month you can run a report on how many tickets had the tag ‘escalated’ on them.  So you know how many got escalated, or how many requests which came in and got escalated, or how many times did you fail to deliver the product which was purchased from your website on time.  So these are the different things which you can do as part of the automated task.  You can change the ticket status to whichever one you want e.g. you can take the ticket priority to critical.  So these are the different automated tasks which you can perform as part of the automated tasks.

Next you can send notifications as well, because after all, if you’re escalating, that means you are notifying someone.  In that case, what you can do is send a mission to different stakeholders you can send it to the team or to the person himself who’s assigned to the ticket, or to the user so there are different people that you can send the notification to that the ticket has missed its deadline, and now you need to pay attention to that.  One of our customers used to deal with all kinds of requests through email, but when they switched to helpdesk, they said that they can now save ten minutes for every request that comes in.  The reason being that they don’t have to keep an eye on things because automatically if the SLA is missed, or if there is something that missed their attention, it gets escalated and they get notified automatically.  So, in a way they, can focus on actually delivering the service to their customers, instead of keeping an eye on different things that need attention because they don’t have to pay attention to these things; it is automatically taken care of.

There are different kind of escalations you can do, so let’s say you are in a business and you deal with refund requests as well, in that case it could be that the person who is dealing at the frontline with these kind of requests may not have that much authority to deal with these requests, he may have to escalate it to the manager.  This is one kind of escalation that you can have.  Or it could be skills-based escalation, so let’s say the request comes in and you particularly don’t have the skills to deal with that, and you have to escalate it.  You then escalate that ticket to someone else because that person has the skills to deal with that.  So these are the escalations that you can have in place if you want to try it based on your requirement.  Or, you have a layered kind of escalation, so let’s say you missed an SLA and then for the first time you escalate it to your team leader, or someone who is senior to you, and it gets escalated, and even during the second time, again it misses the SLA, and this time you need to escalate it to someone higher.  These kind of escalations, you can set up.  In Kayako, you need to set up cron tasks because this is what automates the process for you and the escalation process for you.  Again, as I mentioned we’ll be sharing all the documentation for that, so we will not go that much detail into how to set up a cron task because, if you are an on-demand business or hosted help desk on our servers, we’ll do that for you, and if you’re on download version, then we’ll share the instructions with you on how to set it up on your server.  So, all that will be taken care of at the end of the webinar when we send you all the recordings and the other related documents.

So, this is all about escalations, what do escalations do?  You can perform a lot of automated tasks as part of it, you can send email notifications, letting you focus on actually delivering the service and not bothering about all the others things that you need to take care of. You can have different types of escalations; hierarchy based or skills based, or the other ones that I mentioned. So you can have these kind of things in place. So that’s all about escalations. I’ll quickly walk you through to show you how it all works in Kayako based on the settings.

So this is the admin panel that you are in, you will see that this is the SLA option that you have, so this is where you can go ahead with your SLA plans if you need to create them. So these are all the options that you have so, remember I mentioned about setting your team schedule, you have customizable schedules that you can set up in in Kayako. So the first to start when we’ll set up the team’s schedule, that is for how long do they work e.g. 9-5 or 10-7, and these kind of things. So you have the schedules here. By default you will have the default one because when you sign up for a trial, or when you set up the help desk, there will be a default schedule present in it. You can either modify that or create a new one from here. So if you’re open 24 hours, then you can select this option because your business is open 24 hours; that means the SLA would take for all the 24 hours, and you can select the days that you are closed on. So if you work Monday through Friday then you can select only these days and weekends off, or depending on whichever requirement you have. And then you have custom option as well, as I mentioned if you work 10 to 7 or 9 to 5. So you can see, you have 9 to 5 here, so you can decide it for different days whichever way you work, and then you decide the custom schedule here. Remember this decides for how long your SLA should take.

First we did schedules, and now we are going to create an SLA plan which will be linked with that schedule. So we go back to SLA’s and plans. Again, there will be a default SLA plan present. You can either edit it or create a new one here, and you can go back to plans. This is how you create the SLA plan. So you have the screen and then you add the title for your SLA plan, or you can call it premium SLA plan for your premium customers or normal or high-priority SLA plan for all the tickets which come in with high priority and these kind of things.  So you can name it here, and then you give the timeframe that within which the reply should be made. So you decide within which the reply deadline, so let’s say for this SLA plan, then the reply has to be made within two hours, and that’s how you decide.  Then similarly, you decide the resolution they’re looking for the SLA plan that you’re going to implement. So you have to add a number that is a deadline that you want to set for this SLA plan.  Then, remember the schedule that we created, so it is based on this schedule that the SLA would be ticking, so if you have a 9-5, it will tick only 9-5, and then you add in the criteria. Remember I talked about the vast set of criteria that you have that you can select from?  So, this ticket, this SLA would be implemented only for the tickets which are created in ticket department support.  Then you can have the next criteria, you can have more criteria added. The next one is ticket status, so you use and or operators here, so for ticket department support and ticket status open, this SLA plan would be implemented. Finally, you insert the plan.

Next up is how to link in escalation with the SLA plan that we just created.  Here comes the escalation, right below SLAs there is an escalation option.  There is one present again by default, and then you can hit new if you want to create a new one.  Again, it’s similar, you have to give it a name for the escalation plan, and then you link it with the SLA plan that we created.  So for example, it needs an SLA plan for which one goes over (cuts out) escalation has to trigger.  So we link it with the SLA plan after which the escalation should trigger.  Again, as I mentioned, you can go for it as a reply overdue so you can decide whether you want it to trigger when the reply time goes overdue as for the SLA plan, or whether when the resolution goes overdue, or you want to escalate no matter whether it’s the reply or the resolution which goes overdue but you want it to be escalated when either of them goes overdue.  So you have these three options.  Here we have selected this one, and then you have this actions automated tasks that I talked about.  So you decide if you want to assign it to someone or whether you want to change its flag, because it becomes visible.  So once you add a flag, so let’s say you add an orange flag to all your escalated tickets, that means when you view the ticket in your ticket views, you know that this ticket is escalated because it has had that orange flag added.  And then you can change ticket priority automatically, and then again as I mentioned about orange flag you can add different kinds of flags or tag the ticket with escalated here.

So these are the different things that you can do.  And then finally, you insert the plan.  Then you can leave your escalation.  So that is both SLAs and escalations, and inserting SLA plans in the helpdesk.  Here comes interesting bit, remember I talked about analysing data that we have in place.  So this is what I was talking about.  We’ll go into detail.  So once you have all the SLA plans in place, what will we do with that data?  We collect data over time, but what do we do with it, and how do we make decisions based on that?  So this is all we are going to talk about here.  Once you have the data, you have the privilege to run it against, or compare it against the customer satisfaction.  Let’s say the product that someone purchased from your website was delivered within 12 hours and the customer gave you a very good rating, and then (cuts out) and then there was this other delivery that you made and it wasn’t made within the 24 hours that you promised to the customer.  The customer gave you a bad rating, so when you compare data, you can clearly see that correlation that when you missed the promise that you made to the customer, the customer gave you a bad rating.  That means, this is the thing that you need to work on, because if you have signed that agreement, you have promised an agreement to your customer and you’re providing service within that, the customer is happy with your service and it is creating value.  It is all back to the values that we were talking about creating for the the customer, and ultimately for your own business.  So this is the kind of data that you can extract from the SLAs if you have them in place.

Next up is financial impact, and this can be quite an important one.  So let’s say you are a service provider and there is a downtime e.g. you experience a down time of 2 hours and in those two hours you missed SLAs on 10 tickets.  Those 10 people that you missed the SLA for came back asking for compensation because you missed the SLA that you signed with them, or that you promised them, and then the customer says, ‘I want compensation for that’ and then you can clearly relate that we missed SLAs on 10 tickets during the downtime that we had, and because of that we are paying this much money as part of the compensation.  So, you link these kind of things based on SLAs that you missed an SLA, when did you miss it, you missed it during the downtime, and if it is happening really often, that means you need to work on getting your system stable and you need to make sure that the downtime is kept to the minimum because it is ultimately making you pay a lot.  You are paying your customers, you’re compensating for that financially, so you impact the financial impact of missing the SLAs in this way.

Next up is identifying ticket type, which misses SLAs.  So this can be quite handy, let’s say you have different kinds of requests, or we’ll go back to the example of an IT department and within internal customers.  Let’s say there are different kinds of tickets coming in, there are new joiner requests there are leaver requests and there are laptop repair requests, and the inventory requests, etc. so let’s say every time there is a new asset requested and the SLA is missed on that ticket.  Now if you have the data in place, and you can clearly see it right in graphical form right in front of you that every ticket which is created to request an asset, has missed an SLA.  This means this is something to do with that kind of request which comes in.  It could be that, because you have to deal with an external vendor and the vendor takes time, you miss an SLA on that ticket.  This should make you think that you either need to extend the SLA plan or SLA agreement for that kind of request which comes in, or you need to refine the process.  So these are the things that you can extract if you have the SLA data in place.

And last but not least, it helps you to scope workload as well.  As I mentioned about missing SLAs and ticket type, if you are missing SLAs, not on a particular ticket type, but generally, then that means you need to think about the team that you have, whether they are missing because of the lack of skills, or whether they are missing because of the lack of knowledge, or because they have to deal with other people to get information and you need to refine your internal processes as well.  If it is because of internal processes, that means you need to think about bringing the efficiency.  So these are all the things that you can run from the data that you collect from the SLAs.  So you can relate it with the customer satisfaction, financial impacts, and different kinds of requests and (cuts out) and to talk about the workload that you have.

So that’s about SLAs in Kayako, and now, I’m going to hand over to Kushal, and he’ll be answering your questions that you might have.

K – I’m now going to begin answering the questions submitted during the webinar.  As you know we have limited time here, so I’ll be picking their common questions and try to answer maximum from the list, and you can still submit your questions or doubts and we’ll make sure to follow up by email if we could not answer them here.

The first question is from Mr. Craig.  He wants to know if it is possible to pause that reply due time on a particular status, for example, if you are moving a ticket to an awaiting user reply status, you want to pause the SLA time.  Mr. Craig, it’s not possible to pause the SLA time.  Instead you can clear the reply due time on the ticket when you are moving to a particular status.  You just need to enable a setting for that status, and let me show you how you can do it.  Just go to tickets and the statuses.  Here you can select the required status, and under the options tab you will see ‘clear ticket reply deadlines when set to this status’.  You just need to enable this option and click on the save button.  With this, when you move any ticket to this particular status, the reply due time on that ticket will automatically be clear, and the next time when the user replied on that ticket, the reply due time starts again on that ticket.

The next question is from Mr. Carroll, and let me read his question.  Is there any plan to have the reports (unclear) for the SLAs, for example, average time for closure includes evenings and weekends while the SLA does not.  Yes, as of now the SLA reports does not count the total resolution time or faster response time.  It is certainly in the engineering roadmap, and we are working on it and shall be available in the future, where you can exclude the weekends for the total reservation time or first response time in the reports.  I hope this answers your question.

Next question is from Mr. Tom, and his question is, ‘We need to have a different reply to type to our support and sales team.  Is that possible?’  It’s a very good question, and you can certainly have different SLA plans for different teams, you just need to create a different SLA plan by choosing different departments in the criteria.  Let me show you how you can do it.  Just go to SLA in the admin control panel, and then go to plans.  There you will see the new button, and under the criteria you just need to select the department.  For example, I am creating this as SLA plan for support, just give it a title, enter the required reply and resolution due deadlines, and click on insert.  Once it is inserted, any ticket created in the support department will have that respective reply due and resolution due time.  Similarly, you can create another SLA plan for another sales team or sales department.  Select the required reply deadline and reservation deadline, and under that departments list, select another department.  In addition to that, you also have the option to insert multiple criteria with a different and/or options.  For example, you want to show different SLA plans for ticket departments sales and particular status in progress.  You can also choose the ticket prior to your ticket owner as well.  I hope this answers your question.

The next question is, if I have different queues on Kayako, how can I know how much time each queue has taken for resolution and affecting SLA, and this question is for Mr. Manor.  You can get these data from the reports.  You can create different reports to get the average response time, first response time, ticket resolution time, and get that idea how much time it’s taking to answer the queries for different departments.  You can have multiple criteria in the reports, for example, you can create the reports to get the SLA response time or response time for the sales department, for the support department separately.  You can also link the queues to department or tag them with the parser rules, to use rules to split it out.  For example, you can create an SLA plan for different departments and tag them with the parser rules for example, under the email parser rules, you have the options of rules.  You can create a new rule, and you have list of various criteria and you can choose the required department and under actions tab, you can specify the different actions where you can tag these requests, or add a note of these requests.  You can identify from where they are coming.

The next question is from Sarah, and her question is ‘Kayako comes out of the box with US based pre-configured.  Is there a way to have a list of all countries holidays, if not is there a way to import a list of them?’  It is certainly possible to have your own holidays in the helpdesk.  You just need to go to SLAs holidays, you can create your own holiday with the new button, give it a title, you can select the holiday date and you can also flag the icon with this holiday.  You can also have option to link it with the particular SLA plan, for example if you are creating an SLA plan for different countries and the holidays link to a specific country, you can link this holiday to that particular SLA plan.  This holiday will be applicable only for those tickets which are linked to that particular SLA plan.  You can also import the holiday back from this import option.  Under SLA section, you have the import/export option.  Under import, choose the file which would be XML file and click on the import button.

A – alright so I’m sorry to interrupt Kushal, we are coming down to the end of our hour here, so we have time for one more question if that’s okay?

K – yes sure

A – okay great

K – The next question is, ‘how to warn the user if the ticket is about to escalate’.  That’s a very good question and we receive this request from many customers and I hope it will help other customers to know how to warn a user or ticket owner before ticket is escalated.  In this case, you need to create two different SLA plans.  For example, if your total reply due time is four hours, you can create 1 SL a plan for three hours, and after escalating the ticket with that SLA plan, you can notify the ticket owner department to send a notification that your ticket is about to overdue in one hour.  Under the actions of that escalation rule, you can link another SLA plan.  Let me show you how you can do that.  While you are creating an escalation rule, here you need to select the first SLA plan under which you want to escalate this ticket.  You can choose either escalation type reply or resolution, and you have the option here to change the ticket SLA plan.  You can select another SLA plan here, when the ticket is escalated with SLA plan A, you will notify the ticket owner from this notifications tab.  Inside notifications you have options, staff owner, whether you want to send the notification to staff owner, staff team, or whole department.  When the ticket is created another, SLA plan will be applied and that would be of one hour.  So, three plus one, it would be total reply due all on the ticket would be four hours.

K – Okay Alicia I am done with the question answers.

A – There we go, alright, thank you so much that was a great Q&A; session thank you all in our audience for those wonderful questions.  There were a few that we were not able to answer because of time and we will follow up with you afterwards.  And so that with that being said we are out of time and we hope that you found this presentation to be very helpful.  Thank you so much Sandeep and Kushal for your expertise in the last hour, and that being said, feel free to always reach out to us via email at support@kayako.com be a live chat on any Kayako website or of course the Kayako Help Centre and forums.  And that being said thank you very much for your time and have a great day everyone.

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About the author
Alicia Carney

Alicia Carney is a Product Marketing Manager at Kayako. Originally from San Francisco, Alicia is passionate about creating awesome customer experiences for people all over the world. Outside of Kayako, she loves exploring Europe with a backpack, a bottle of wine, and ample amounts of cheese.

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