By Marty Gulewicz, Engagement Manager & Jim Jones, Solution Consultant

Are your SLAs really improving customer satisfaction?

According to the FDIC, “A well-designed SLA (service level agreement) will recognize and reward, or at least acknowledge good service. It will also provide the measurement structure — or performance metric — to identify sub-standard service and trigger correction or cancellation provisions as warranted.”

Sounds like a dream world.

Where we differ in opinion with the FDIC is that SLAs actually deal with operational efficiency, not good service and customer satisfaction. Don’t get us wrong, operational efficiency is crucial, but at the end of the day, your customers don’t care how your products and services got into their hands – they care that the service is there, that it is correct and that it got there quickly.

Although good-intentioned, SLAs ultimately create a disconnect between banks and their customers because, in addition to customers not caring about your SLAs, you don’t talk to them in terms of service level agreements anyway.  

Customer-focused banks talk in terms of estimate to complete dates.

What is an estimate to complete date?

An estimate to complete or “ETC” as we call it, is when you expect to have the customer’s products and services ready. Depending on the complexity of the product group selected by the client, the ETC could range from a matter of seconds to several weeks. The calculation is based on historical data for the given product set in conjunction with several other variables that tend to be unique for each organization. The objective of the ETC is to articulate an accurate delivery time frame to all stakeholders (internal and external).  

How is an ETC date different than an SLA?

An ETC takes into account processes that take place simultaneously instead of adding the time frames together. In other words, the calculation process considers various tasks that happen in parallel, so the date calculation is a little more complicated than adding the expected turnaround times for Product A and Product B. You also have to consider that a client’s product group ranges in complexity from overdraft protection to lockbox banking. And the bank could be executing anywhere from one to many of these products at the same time.

The rule sets for calculating ETC combine expected performance with historical performance over a period of time. The ETC calculation is also dynamic. It continually collects data and feeds it into the calculation so it adapts as products change over time.

Why is an ETC better?

Well, there are a lot of reasons. Here’s a list of just a few:

  • Helps with staffing. An ETC allows the business to adjust its resources to meet ever changing demands. As respective business bottlenecks move downstream in the business process, managers can adjust their staff to meet the demand.
  • Visibility isn’t limited to project managers. Both customer and internal resources now know the status. It provides internal folks with information to communicate with customers and other team members on when they can transact business.
  • Eliminates siloed information.
  • Make money sooner. The ETC is a more concrete estimate for when your end customer can start doing business with you and when you can start charging them and making money. Since ETC follows a multi-prong approach to identifying when work will complete, it eliminates the serial-ness of a transaction-based workflow.
  • Increase customer satisfaction. A definitive date for when a product or service will be available increases overall customer satisfaction, which leads to customer retention and an influx of business from the existing customer or new ones.
  • More flexible than SLAs. During the workflow, the system constantly tracks and reviews metrics. These reviews lead to continual updates to existing business rules. Changes to the business rules have a real-time impact on the ETC which immediately takes effect.
  • Gain insight into why the ETC changes. For example, if you miss 95% of ETC dates because you wait on customers, then you have the ability to reflect on how to change the business process or push customers to complete things sooner.

I’m still not convinced. Why should I care?

Your organization and your job depend on happy customers. Providing them with realistic and tangible expectations is key to retaining them. The estimate to complete date is that key.

If you’d like to learn more about the nitty gritty of how we produce ETC dates from predictive modeling, check out this presentation we gave at IBM World of Watson: Utilizing Predictive Modeling to Meet Business SLAs.

 

About the authors:

Marty

I’ve been in the banking and consulting industries for over 20 years. As an Engagement Manager, I like to work closely with Pyramid Solutions’ clients to help them leverage the latest technology to maximize their business value. Outside of work, I’m a Scotch connoisseur and I love to travel. My favorite place is Hawaii.

Jim

I’m a Solution Consultant with experience in financial services, healthcare insurance and pharmaceutical clinical trials. I focus on maximizing our client’s return on their technology investment. When not concentrating on technology, I like to contemplate the world because it is an excellent decompression technique and often offers a valuable “out of the blue” insight.