From SLA to XLA: making experience your most valuable KPI
As a delivery manager I often deal with questions like ‘How do we make the experience of our service both measurable and insightful?’ or ‘How do we embed client satisfaction as part of our SLA?’. My answer to these challenges nowadays is short and snappy: stop offering traditional service level agreements and jump on the XLA train. So for over 3 years I offer my clients a so called Xperience Level Agreement (XLA), which is superlative to a traditional IT SLA. It basically focusses on end-user and customer experiences rather than technical KPI’s such as availability or page load time.
The reason I pitch the XLA mindset to my clients is obvious, it is all about client satisfaction and quality of services offered. Therefor I believe this aspect should be at the core of your service agreements. The same counts for the experience of an end-user of the service you provide. Putting a target KPI on those essential elements and constantly measuring the experiences of end users, you will be continuously in a position to optimise the service provisioned and bring the most to your client and their customers.
Traditional SLAs have little connection to the actual experience and are not aligned to modern methods such as continuous delivery that requires constant adjustment based on experience
Based on an approach developed by Giarte, XLA’s are explicitly focused on the experience of end users and client satisfaction. They make the experience of both measurable and insightful, based on the evaluations of our clients and other relevant data, such as monitoring insights and the functional performance of elements. Our XLA approach is based on two pillars: Quality commitment and Functional monitoring.
1. Commitment to quality
A major component of the XLA is the Mirabeau Experience Index. This index – which can be replaced by your own figures - provides an accurate insight into the satisfaction of our clients, including the performance of the 24/7 management and maintenance of business-critical digital platforms.
The current index is composed of five figures, measured based on:
- the proactivity of the provided services
- the extent to which we help clients accelerate the time-to-market
- the number of relevant insights provided
- the knowledge level of employees
- the general quality of the services provided
We translate the evaluations received from our clients into an index and combine this with the experiences of visitors to a platform or product. By registering the achieved results and discussing them with clients and the team involved, we can constantly improve the service components which are most valuable to clients and visitors alike. These results are then linked to services levels and guarantees, further underlining our commitment to quality.
2. Functional measurements
In addition to the Experience Index, XLAs should also include functional guarantees because a technical update or performance guarantee has little relevance within the framework of modern technology. What’s important is the experience of the end users of the platform. For this reason, you should provide guarantees on issues such as the functioning of the online shopping cart, the proper functioning of a portal, and the smooth processing of forms.
For this to work you could use a combination of scripts that simulate end-user behaviour on a webpage or touchpoint, adding monitoring tooling and alerting to get notified when a threshold is passed. For example when the number of order confirmations on an e-commerce system is lower than expected.
And always explore measurements- and monitoring methods to prevent issues having impact on end-user experience. Make sure to collect insights over the entire chain that is servicing the end-user experience. The results should be presented to the client and team , via a real-time dashboard for example.
Another advice. Try to combine functional measurement results with marketing or commercial data such as campaign insights. This could provide additional insights for a broader group of stakeholders. A direct link between the performance of the platform and business results, allows you to add even more value.
To summarize: Traditional SLAs have little connection to the actual experience and are not aligned to modern methods such as continuous delivery that requires constant adjustment based on experience. The speed in which companies address the needs of clients is all-important in today’s digital playing field, which is why the client and end user experience are leading in the XLAs we provide.
Do you want to know more about our XLA approach? Drop me a line! I’m happy to help.