A Comprehensive Guide to Customer Service SLAs

Gladly Team

Read Time

4 minute read

Support centers are often referred to as the “front lines” of a brand’s relationship with its customers. In ecommerce, establishing clear and consistent customer service SLAs (or service level agreements) is crucial to setting an expectation of support quality in ways you can measure and repeat.

When optimizing your support center, you should establish benchmarks for your SLAs to use as reference points for your success. Then, as your brand matures, those guidelines can be starting points and goalposts to provide better service over time. With powerful service tools like Gladly, your customer service SLAs will continually reflect your company’s commitment to quality in the customer experience.


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What Is a Customer Service SLA?

A customer service SLA is the target time within which an agent is expected to respond to a customer. Think of it as a goal to complete a certain number of conversations within a predetermined amount of time — for instance, 80% of chats within two minutes or 90% of SMS conversations within ten minutes.

The Importance of SLA

These SLAs are vital to setting a baseline of service between a brand and its customers. Though SLAs are measured internally and not always explicitly known to the customer, every shopper feels the impacts of both meeting and not reaching them.

Understanding Customer Service SLA Performance

Using support standards and previous customer service SLA examples, your brand can start to designate SLAs based on these best practices. Consider the following questions about your SLAs as you measure your consistency in meeting these agreements:

  • How am I establishing our SLAs for inbound requests?
    • As we’ll discuss, you need to define the parameters of your SLA and set reasonable benchmarks — whether against your own standards or your support tech configurations.
  • Am I meeting our standard level of customer service?
    • Let’s say you aim to solve 100% of chats within five minutes, but only 75% are successfully solved in that time. Ask yourself, what are the roadblocks to better meeting your commitments to customers?
  • Am I meeting defined SLAs for each channel in the support center?
    • SLAs vary per channel, so it’s important to keep an eye on which ones are not meeting your quality standards.

Unlock Actionable Customer Service Insights with Gladly

🛑 Gladly Insights provides a comprehensive view of team performance, analyzing agents, channels, and conversations in real-time and historical data. It helps identify optimization opportunities, training requirements for service heroes, for all of your channels — and much more. Learn more about the power of next-level customer service reporting through Gladly Insights.

Customer Service SLA Examples

If your phone agents handle about 60% of their incoming service requests within the first five minutes of the call, this creates your current SLA baseline (60% fulfillment within five minutes) and acts as a performance measurement for goal setting. A brand with these numbers should aim to increase that 60% by 15% within a year to show substantial improvement in service delivery.

Say you found that your agents can fulfill all email service requests in five hours. That means your brand has established an SLA baseline of 100% in a five-hour period for that channel. While the perfect score of 100% sounds optimal for an SLA, you can continue to build off your score to reduce the wait time from five hours to four hours by improving efficiency.

Building Out Customer Service SLAs

No specific measurements exist for benchmarking SLAs. Rather, the best way to gauge your own SLAs against established baselines is to measure your staff’s response to customer requests based on channel. Once you have an average, translate that information to serve as the benchmark for your SLAs.

Gladly SLA Benchmarks by Channel

For a potential starting point, here are the default SLA targets configured in Gladly — all of which you can adjust based on SLA internal reporting.

  • Voicemail: 10 minutes
  • Chat: 5 minutes
  • SMS: 10 minutes
  • Email: 24 hours
  • Voice: 1 minute

Power Your SLAs With Gladly

Investing in support technology is a surefire way to improve your SLA consistency. It helps agents easily meet yours and your customers’ expectations by making your work environment more accessible for staff and giving you and them greater control over support processes.

Gladly Workforce Management tools provide top-down control of the agent experience to better assign roles to your staff, so you can track agent performance against customer metrics and optimize staffing across all channels. Overall, this keeps your agents on target with your SLAs and sets them up for the best performance success possible.


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