Professional services firms are constantly faced with the challenge of meeting the increasing demands of their customers while maintaining profitability with their limited systems and people. Today’s customers have very little tolerance towards poor customer service and delivery. The instant response and experience of online shopping has transformed today’s consumer. Expectations of what and how products and services are purchased and delivered are extremely high. In response, services firms are continuously seeking new systems and processes to better service their customers and remain competitive in the markets they serve.
In today’s service economy, aligning the work between sales and the service delivery team has become a moving target. In many cases, over promising and under delivering can be a direct result of services organizations just doing their best to keep their heads above water in an extremely competitive global market. With this reality, the Service Level Agreement (SLA) has increased its importance in the organization keeping both buyers and sellers of services on the same page. The SLA does not only ensure that customers understand exactly what they are getting by detailing the contractual terms of the purchased services but also keeps sales in line with their delivery teams ensuring services sold will meet and hopefully exceed customer expectations.
Effective SLAs need to be proactively developed to prevent the “Domino Effect” from occurring. For service organizations the Domino Effect has a double entendre. The more obvious meaning refers to the negative fallout of unclear SLA terms that can result in multiple unrealistic expectations that will leave a bad taste with customers resulting in negative experiences, poor performances and a potentially downward spiraling (chain reaction) of the delivery team’s ability to effectively execute on what has been promised. The more industry specific meaning of the “Domino Effect” directly refers to eliminating the bad habit of explicitly over promising and under delivering on services offered up by a commonly employed sales tactic to win business. It’s related to the popular “Pizza Delivery Promise” that guarantees your pizza within a very short time frame or it’s free. As everyone knows, there are too many unknown factors that play into this promise and in many cases reckless behavior has ensued causing way more grief than the benefits “delivered.” Nonetheless, customers are still demanding more from their service providers and in many cases pushing their providers into a dangerous corner. The reality remains that service firms are only able to deliver successful services based on the limitations of their technology and people. That is where Professional Services Automation (PSA) comes in to play to up your game as a service provider. A strong PSA strategy will ensure you are fast out of the gate from sales to delivery and allow your organization to provide its customers a compelling SLA to meet the increasing demands of today’s discriminating customers.
About the Author: Neil Stolovitsky has over 15 years of IT experience with end-user, consulting, and vendor organizations, along with extensive expertise in business development, software selection, and channel strategies. He has published numerous white papers and articles covering Professional Services Automation, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) for service industries, Project Portfolio Management, IT Governance, and New Product Development to a global audience. Neil currently holds the position of Senior Solution Consultant with Upland Software.
To learn more about this topic check out this webinar: Fast Out of the Gate: Bringing Success to Your Customers at the Start of the Services Engagement