Reliability, SLA and the Customer Experience

What's the difference between uptime reliability and SLA? And why is that important to the customer experience and ultimately customer loyalty? I get asked this a lot. And, now I have a story that hopefully untangles it all.

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I'm waiting at the Philadelphia airport because the airline cancelled my flight to San Francisco. I'm not truly angry because the promised flight is not here. It's an inconvenience that I must work at the airport versus an airplane seat. But, I am LIVID because of the impact of the airline's reliability. This is the second cancellation in a row. And, the cheerful agent I dealt with had trouble understanding this. He kept reminding me that the airline's SLA — basically providing another flight at no charge — would be fine. But, in this instance, it wasn't.

I needed to meet with several team leads about several urgent projects. My absence would delay the work. I had also hoped vainly to squeeze in time with the content team and an exciting new project that is about to go out the door. But, that ship has sailed. (Flight has flown?) The airline's SLA does not compensate me for what I lost.

It's worth pointing out that I am lucky I didn't have a layover with a second airline. A second airline would see no reason to solve my problems if I showed up late because of the first.

These same principles apply to communications.

Vonage offers impressive uptime reliability across its solution. This is a big deal because the depth of our uptime reliability (99.999%) creates additional value for our customers as they add more breadth of our communications offering. E.g. Voice, + SMS, + Mobile, + Routing, + Agent Softphone, + Reporting + SmartWAN, etc. In other words, for Vonage customers, the more you use, the more secure you are.

This means a customer's problem is going to be rare, and IF it happens, it won't get orphaned between, for example, the contact center vendor and the unified communications provider at the worst possible time.

A colleague recently told me about the time she ran a Customer Service operation and the phones had stopped working. She called one vendor for help and was given the support line for the other! This. Happens. All. The. Time.

Net-net, SLAs are important. They show how the vendor gets behind its offer. But reliability is what counts. I cannot book with an airline that fails to deliver when I need them most.

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