A friend of mine told me their office phone system was down for three days due to AT&T mistakenly disconnecting the wrong circuit… what ?! Thats right – three days of having no phone service and a hundred pissed business people screaming in the office! I asked him what service level they have with ATT – he wasn’t sure if they actually had one at all!Too bad, but if they did have some sort of service level agreement with AT&T in place, I guarantee that AT&T would have fixed the issue in less then a day…
Signing a contract for you Voice or Data service with service providers has always been tricky. Part of it is a Service Level Agreement or SLA for short, that serves as an agreement between you and your service provider on what services are being offered and with what expectations. It covers how service provider will deliver the promised services, what happens if that fails and what credit can customer expect to receive for failed service.
If you are dealing with Voice service provider for example one of the points in SLA could be – guaranteed service availability of 99.95% of the time, for example. And if a provider can not sustain that, you are given credit for each hour you’ve been down.
Obviously some providers are trying to avoid these clauses for a reason… Or if they include them, they can try to charge you more for the service. There is direct relationship between maximum level of availability and the related cost. The better quality of service you are being offered, the more you will pay for the service. In this case, depending on the criticality of that service to your business, you as a customer have several options to choose form, which is a great thing.
As a general rule to be remembered is – these things have to be considered and documented when signing up for the new service, not after the fact. Remember, SLA is an important contract that holds your service provider liable for service quality and any service interruptions. It makes them more responsible and proactive in keeping up with the quality of service, as none of them like to loose cash!