A good starting point when discussing service levels is to ask ‘How will we know that the project is working? For long-term strategic projects, plan for service levels to increase as the project progresses – start with achievable targets and plan to improve standards during the relationship. Service levels need to be defined for a wide range of activities including but not limited to the:
i. speed of answering
ii. call durations
iii. proportion of ring back appointments honored
iv. speed of fulfillment
v. data quality
vi. customer satisfaction
vii. account management
ix. levels of abandoned
x. busy and unobtainable calls
xi. conversion rates
xii. quality of call handling
xiii. speed of provision of statistics.
For service levels to work, the measurements used must be tangible and auditable, but there are some ‘soft’ components of the call that are very important for example:
a. the quality of the dialogue
b. the rapport achieved by the agent with the customer
c. the intonation of voice, etc.
It is possible for you to record a proportion of calls and use an external quality assessor to mark the calls against agreed criteria. This allows the quality of the dialogue to be determined independently.
No matter how much you plan, until the service actually goes live you can never tell what it will actually be like. Things like call length can vary enormously from what is expected. It is sometimes a good idea to allow a settling in period during which you pin all the Service Level Agreements down based on what actually happens. This also allows any teething problems with the implementation of the service to be sorted out before the Service Level Agreement kicks in.