Creating SLA policies

Pratibha Agrawal Updated by Pratibha Agrawal

Why are SLAs helpful for your business?

Service-level agreements (SLAs) help businesses maintain a high quality of customer service by providing timely resolutions and hence keeping their customers happy.

While the customers are handed well, Hiver SLAs also help teams create more visibility internally. With SLAs, everyone is on the same page about which conversations need immediate attention so that customers are not kept waiting and agents can also prioritize their work easily.  

Here’s a quick list of things you can do with SLAs 2.0-
  • Get reminders when SLAs on conversations are due soon 
  • View when SLA is due on individual conversation and Gmail list-views
  • Easily distinguish between First Response Time (FRT) and Resolution Time (RT) SLAs
  • Quickly access all your Overdue & Due soon conversations using Hiver default views 
  • Manually remove SLA on specific conversations to remove anomalies 
  • Escalate conversations & automatically update SLAs
  • Set SLA for specific types of conversations and combination of tags
SLA feature is available only on Pro and Elite plans.

Creating SLA policies

SLAs could be different for the various teams in a company and hence they work at a shared mailbox level. Each team can create their own set of SLAs in their respective shared mailboxes. Follow the below steps to get started:

  1. From the Hiver Settings dropdown, select 'Admin panel'. Note that you can only see this option if you are an Admin or a Mailbox admin.
  2. Once you land on the Admin panel, go to your list of shared inboxes and choose the Hiver email inbox for which you want to set up SLAs
  3. Go to the 'SLA' section and click on 'Create SLA policy'
  4. The Create SLA Policy page is divided into 3 sections-
    1. SLA Policy Name & Description
    2. SLA Condition
    3. SLA Targets

Let's look at each section in more detail.

SLA Policy Name and Description
  1. Add the SLA name under “Policy Name”. It is a mandatory field and cannot be let blank. Policy names should be unique and can be upto 50 characters in length.
  2. Add the SLA description under “Description”. It is an optional field and can be upto 200 characters in length.
SLA Condition

Condition will determine which conversations this SLA policy should get mapped to. You can define this on the basis of- type of conversations and tag(s) present on the conversation. By default, the SLA condition is set as:  ‘All conversations’ with any tag.

  1. Type of conversation

    All conversations

    This includes all conversations received in the shared mailbox. These could be Inbound, Outbound or Manually added.

    Inbound conversations

    Conversations where the first email was sent to the shared mailbox email address

    Outbound conversations

    Conversations where the first email was sent from the shared mailbox email address (or a known alias of it) 

    Manually added conversations

    Conversations added to the shared mailbox manually using the 'Add to shared mailbox' option

  1. Tag(s) present on the conversation
    Hiver Tags help you categorise conversations by customer segment, issue type, priority of conversation etc. When you use a condition based on tags in SLAs, you can create a policy for a specific type of customer or issue.
    1. Let's understand this through an example: Assume that Acme.com is one of your premium customers and you want to resolve every conversation from them within 6 hours.
      1. Firstly, make sure all conversations from Acme.com are categorised as 'Premium'. You can do so by creating a Hiver Automation which will automatically add the tag 'Premium' to all conversations from Acme.com. Learn more about setting automations here.
      2. Create an SLA policy with condition 'Apply SLA on: All conversations with tag- Premium'
      3. Now, every conversation from Acme.com will start getting mapped to this SLA policy. This will ensure everyone in your team is on the same page with respect to when this conversation needs to be resolved.
    2. In the Tags condition if you select multiple tags, then you can choose if you want 'Any or All' selected tags to be present.
  2. A combination of type of conversation and tag(s) present

    For example- If you want to cover only Inbound conversations for Premium customers as your outbound conversations are mostly periodic newsletters. In this case, you can set the SLA condition as 'Inbound conversations' with tag 'Premium'

SLA Targets

Targets refer to your expected First Response times and Resolution times. If the response/resolution on a conversation doesn't happen within these defined targets, then the SLA will be breached and will be referred to as "Overdue". All members of your shared mailbox will be able to see the SLA status on a conversation and in the list view.

  1. Each metric i.e First Response time (FRT) and Resolution time (RT) will be timed independently and will be called out as FRT Overdue or RT Overdue on a conversation if they do not meet the respective SLA targets. It is mandatory to enter at least one of these two metrics.
  2. You can choose to run this SLA policy only on business hours or on calendar hours. In order to select business hours, you'll first have to set up those in your account settings and map them to the shared mailbox where you're creating SLAs.
    1. Go to your account settings in Admin panel > Business hour templates and click on Create New Template
    2. Then go to the shared mailbox for which you want to create SLAs > Settings > Map the business hour template
  3. Whenever FRT or RT becomes Overdue, you can choose to notify your teammates. These notifications will appear under the Hiver bell icon for each user. By default, it's set to the assignee and assigner of any conversation. Setting notifications is optional and you can leave it blank too.
  4. Add SLA reminders: You can tap on 'Add SLA status' to set reminders or warnings when SLAs are about to get breached.
    Due soon status (SLA reminders) feature is present only on the latest Elite plan. If you're on an older version of Elite, please upgrade to get access to this feature.
    Example: Your SLA target for First Response is set as 1 hour and you would like to be reminded 15 minutes before FRT becomes Overdue so that you can respond to the customer within the SLA. To do this, you can set your FRT Overdue time as 1 hour and FRT Due soon time as 45 minutes.
  5. Make sure to set notifications for 'Due soon' respectively for FRT and RT so that you can get reminded to respond. Please note that setting up ‘Due soon’ SLA status is optional. 
    You can set up ‘Due soon’ status for a metric (FRT/RT) only if you have set up ‘Overdue’ status for that metric. Overdue status values should always be greater than Due soon status values for each metric.

Click on 'Create SLA policy' to begin using the policy.

SLA guiding principles

It's important to highlight some thumb rules for you to understand the best practices of using SLAs.

1. At any point of time, a conversation can be mapped to only a single SLA

At a given point of time, any conversation can have only 1 SLA policy mapped to it since there can be only one service level agreement for the customer.

2. Ordering of SLA policies is crucial in deciding which policy gets mapped to a conversation

SLA system looks for matching policies on a conversation on the basis of 'SLA conditions' defined in each policy. However, it's possible that a conversation matches to more than 1 policy on the basis of SLA conditions. In such cases, always the highest ranked policy is mapped to the conversation.

Consider this example-

There are 2 policies defined by you in the below ranking:

  1. Premium customers: Only applies to conversations with tag 'Premium'. FRT SLA is 2 hour.
  2. Default SLA: Applies to all conversations received in the shared mailbox. FRT SLA is 5 hours.

A conversation from Acme.com who is your premium customer is received into the shared mailbox. Assume your team has created a Hiver Automation to apply tag 'Premium' on all conversations from Acme.com. SLA system will look for matching policies and will find that both policies are matching the conversation based on the conditions. However, only the top ranked policy can be mapped to the conversation and hence SLA 'Premium customers' will be mapped to this conversation from Acme.com

To summarise, SLA system will always map the highest ranked policy to the conversation when it matches the conditions from multiple policies.

3. Configure how SLAs run in your mailbox

You can choose when SLA system should evaluate for matching policies on any conversation. There are 2 options here:

  1. When the conversation is created in the shared mailbox
    1. If this setting is selected, it would mean that only at the time when conversation is added to the mailbox, SLA system would look for matching policies and apply a policy to the conversation.
    2. This is the default setting when you set up SLAs in your mailbox.
  2. When the conversation is created or tags on it are modified
    1. If this setting is selected, then both at the time of conversation creation and tags application/removal, SLA system would look for matching policies and apply a policy to the conversation.
      This setting is useful when your mailbox often sees reprioritisation of conversations based on latest customer responses.
    2. Example of how this setting would work:

      A conversation from a premium customer was received in the mailbox and was immediately mapped to SLA Policy 'Premium'. After half an hour, the customer informed that the issue reported was being faced by all of their users and needs to be resolved at the highest priority. Your support team adds the tag 'Urgent' to this conversation. At the point, there 2 SLA policies defined by you in the below ranking:

      1. Urgent escalations for Premium: Applies to conversations with tag 'Premium' AND 'Urgent'

      2. Premium customers: Applies to conversations with only tag 'Premium'

      If this setting is turned on, then SLA system will re-evaluate for matching policies upon 'Urgent' Tag addition and will remap conversation to policy 'Urgent escalations for Premium' since it's ranked higher in the policy list. This will ensure that everyone in your team is on the same page with respect to the revised SLAs on this conversation without any manual efforts.

    3. If the above setting is turned on, the in the following cases the re-evaluation would happen:
      • Conversation is in Open/ Pending status and not mapped to an SLA policy yet
      • Conversation is in Open/ Pending status and already mapped to an SLA policy
    4. If the above setting is turned on, the in the following cases the re-evaluation would NOT happen:
      • Conversation is in Closed status and someone is adding/removing tags on it: This is so because a Closed conversation essentially cannot have any SLAs running till it's in the closed state.
      • A tag is deleted from the shared mailbox: If a tag is deleted, it is also removed from all conversations. However, SLA system understands that this is not an intentional reprioritisation of conversations and hence does not reevaluate affected conversations in this case.
At any point of time if you change the above setting in your mailbox, it will come into effect immediately. For instance, if you switch the setting to 'SLA should apply when conversation is created or tags on it are modified' then as soon as you apply/remove tags on any conversation it will be re-evaluated by the SLA system.

4. Manually removing SLAs on conversations to remove anomalies

It often happens that conversations which are spam emails/ automatic replies don't get closed immediately and end up ruining your resolution metrics. In order to avoid such anomalies having running SLAs, users can go to a specific conversations and remove SLA from them.

  1. You can choose to notify specific teammates when SLA is manually removed from a conversation. To do so, go to the Settings icon on your SLA list page.
    By default, the recipients of this notification is set to the assignee and assigner of the respective conversation. Setting this notification is optional, so you can even uncheck the recipients and tap on 'Apply changes' to leave this field blank.
  2. Also, note that the permission to remove SLA from conversation is only available to Mailbox admin and Admin roles by default. However, you can create a custom role if needed. Learn more about SLA permissions here.

5. Reordering/ editing/ disabling policies will not affect conversations which already have a policy applied to them.

If you modify your SLA policies, the new configuration of the policies will only apply to the new conversations that will be received in your mailbox henceforth. Existing conversations will continue to run on the basis of the SLAs defined when the associated policy had been mapped to the conversation. An example of how existing conversations will behave:

  1. The initial state of SLA policy 'Premium' is FRT Overdue= 2h
  2. This policy is mapped to a certain conversation ABC
  3. Later, you revised the policy 'Premium' to have an FRT Overdue= 3h
  4. The conversation ABC will continue to have FRT Overdue time= 2h and will have no impact from editing the policy.

You can know more about managing (editing/disabling) SLA policies in this article.

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Managing SLA policies

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