A service level agreement template or SLA template is not going to protect you or your customers from frustration and disappointment if it does not proactively address concerns about how application downtime is communicated to end users. An application status page provides the communications platform your customers may not even know to ask for during the SLA negotiation phase of the sales process. Application downtime will certainly come up in these negotiations—and given the long timeframe SaaS companies operate on, that is a question of “when” rather than “if” application downtime happens.
What may not come up in these conversations however is how application downtime is communicated.
Click here for a service level agreement template that already includes language about an application status page, designed to communicate important updates to end users about application downtime.
Read on for more information about why this can save you significant time and trouble.
The Failure to Plan version of communicating application downtime goes as follows:
1) Application goes down
2) Customer calls Support to inquire about the status of the application
3) Customer gets frustrated that not only can they not access your application, they have to wait for Support and/or receive an unsatisfying answer about how long it will be until the application is up and running again
4) Application is back up and running
5) Some period of time later, the customer receives a confusing email from IT notifying the customer that the application is fully functional again, likely describing the source of the issue in terms the customer does not understand
So why should you plan to include an application status page in the service level agreement template you put in front of new customers?
Even though the customer may not think to ask for it, providing a self-service communications tool like an application status page that customers can use to directly access information about the current status of your application, be reminded of the application’s otherwise excellent track record, and elect to automatically receive SMS, Twitter and/or email alerts at the end user-level provides an alternate version of the application downtime story.
The Planning to Keep Customers Happy version of communicating application downtime goes as follows:
1) Application goes down
2) Customer checks application status page to determine status of the application; gets answer immediately
3) Application is back up and running; customer automatically receives notification via preferred communication method (e.g. text message), immediately
But Why Include an Application Status Page in Your Service Level Agreement Template?
The point of the SLA is to set expectations. By including an application status page in your standard service level agreement template, you are letting customers know that not only will your application be up and running > 99% of the time, but also for that unfortunate < 1% of the time they will not have to wonder what’s going on—the inconvenience of application downtime will not be compounded by a time-consuming, confusing communications process.
You can read about more tips for what to include in your service level agreement template here.
I encourage you to check out tools like New Relic that help you monitor your application’s performance, as these are often the backbone on which a end user-facing application status page can be built.
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