Making your IT Service Level Agreements more flexible

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While Service Level Agreements in ITSM are great for many things, relying on them too heavily will risk long term damage to your organisation. You simply get blinded by numbers and forget about the Service. We see this too often. The solution? A shift towards XLAs.

What is an XLA?

If your Service Desk was a fruit, what would it be? An apple? An orange maybe? Try a watermelon. It may sound ridiculous, but humor me for a second! The Watermelon Service Desk was first used by Marco Gianotten of Giarte for an SLA focused Service Desk. The dashboards are green and management is thrilled. Yet underneath simmers red warning signs of resentment and dissatisfaction.

5 minute average response time and 8 hour closure rate sounds fantastic. But SLA stats miss something: the experience of the user. Not delving beneath the shiny green exterior could be causing your business harm.

The value of XLAs to an agile way of working

XLA is a concept developed by Giarte and the X stands for eXperience. It means that performance is dictated by the one person who feels it the most: the customer. The good thing is that generally, you need less XLAs than SLAs to give an indication of performance, which makes them easier to manage.

If you are planning to adopt a more Agile way of working, then XLAs will compliment this perfectly. XLAs naturally focus on interactions and customer collaboration rather than cumbersome contractual obligations. The XLA is also very susceptible to change so as the needs and requirements of your customer changes, your XLAs adapt too.

Where do I start to measure customer experience?

There are hundreds of methodologies to measure customer experience. Start out by keeping it simple and using a single question to capture the customers experience at close of call. Star ratings are a useful one-click response that already give you insights into the services previously unseen by traditional SLAs. For some more in depth tips – here are some excellent ways to get real customer feedback.

But there is more to it than metrics. XLAs represent a change in culture by shifting the focus from performance to the experience of the customer. You have to get your operators on board through persona creation and mapping the customer journey. Over time you will notice an interesting shift; you might start missing the odd SLA target, yet your customer experience continually improves. The question is raised: what are we using all these SLAs for?

Streamlining your Services

If you have left some of your heavy SLAs behind and you find yourself with a few simple XLAs that keep your customers happy, you will find yourself less like a watermelon and more like the humble grape: small, nimble, easy to manage. And green both inside and out. How many people do you see with a whole watermelon in their lunch boxes?


Read more on putting your customers first in our Customer Centricity E-book.