A Service-level agreement (SLA) is a documented agreement between a service provider and their customer. SLAs are important documents to establish expectations between the two parties and legally document how the services will be delivered. The SLA typically outlines the services that the service provider will deliver, the availability of those services, and the customer service metrics that will be used to measure the success of the contract.

In a customer service context, the SLA is a contract that sets out the expectations between the service provider and the customer about services they will provide and how the customer service team will be held to account. It documents what customers can expect from the service provider, customer service targets and timescales of the service. These agreements are typically created when a customer purchases a service from a provider.

SLAs vary depending on the provider, however, they can generally include the following sections:

• Service Description: Descriptions about the service being offered, the terms of the agreement and the guidelines for reporting issues.

• Service Availability: This section states how often the service will be available as well as any scheduled downtime for maintenance.

• Service Level Targets: This section outlines the service level targets that the customer can expect (e.g. response times, resolution times).

• Monitoring & Reporting: This section outlines how the SLA will be monitored and reported on.

• Support: This section outlines the type of support that will be available to customers.

Adherence to Service-level agreements is a key element for successful customer service and greatly impacts customer satisfaction. Depending on the SLA, financial penalties may be incurred by the service provider in the case of a breach or violation. For this reason, SLAs should be drafted and negotiated carefully to make sure both the service provider and customer are on the same page and have an understanding of the terms and conditions.

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