How Do You Warn Your Team About Potential SLA Breaches?

October 1, 2019 | Read: 8 minutes

An SLA breach penalty can be disastrous for any field service business.

After all, dealing with an emergency isn’t easy, especially if there’s no warning.

You might find yourself panicked, scrambling, or even making matters worse by implementing an ineffective solution…

Of course, when it comes to upholding your SLAs and avoiding an SLA breach penalty, you know that there will have consequences, so you need to keep on top of them as best you can.

Whether it’s a potential fine or disciplinary action against your business, they’re best avoided where possible! The problem is: how do you provide those warnings to your staff?

It’s not easy when you deal with time-sensitive workloads.

Fortunately, that’s where automated tools can help.

Let’s explore exactly what that means:

Keep track of your  Service Level Agreements with the SLA monitoring tool

What’s the risk of an SLA breach penalty?

So that you can make sure you’re prepared to deal with a problem, you need to understand the risks involved with an SLA breach penalty. SLAs carry consequences (such as the cost of a fine), which will have been discussed with your customer—most likely during tender—and written into your contract. 

However, there are other consequences you might face if SLAs are breached. These are less tangible than a fine, but awareness of them will help in your efforts to prevent them too (as we’ll see in section 2):

i. Losing Money

The most likely result of breaching an SLA is that you’ll incur a fine. These fines will vary depending on the severity or frequency of a breach.

It goes without saying that you want to avoid fines, as any financial outgoings that aren’t necessary expenses will negatively impact your cash flow and the profitability of your business. 

If these build up, whether resulting from negligence or (more simply) poor tracking and monitoring, then your business will be needlessly suffering.

After all, you know your margins, and while you’ll have strategically planned with some room for error, losses incurred in this way are simply unacceptable, particularly as such losses extend beyond the financial (as below).

ii. Losing Contracts

If maintaining SLAs to the expected standards becomes increasingly complex, you may face a bigger problem than a fine. Repeatedly failing to deliver the desired level of service can indicate to your customer that your business isn’t up to scratch.

They may become frustrated if they constantly see that engineers are late, that jobs take too long to be confirmed or cause them downtime that negatively affects their business. 

As a result of such stresses on their business, they may wish to reassess their agreement with you and, in the worst cases, have legitimate grounds to terminate their contract with you.

If you consider the cumulative impact of successive fines with a resulting loss of a contract, it can become a massive problem for your company to deal with and be challenging to pull yourself back from, as well as damaging your reputation…

iii. Negative Press

Businesses talk to one another, and with online reviews becoming an increasingly popular method for customers and prospective partners to review businesses (think GoogleMyBusiness, or sites like Checkatrade), the last thing you need is for a string of negative reviews to surface online. 

The best way to avoid negative reviews or damaged relationships is to deliver good service and keep the customer happy. That said, bad reviews are still bound to happen occasionally, but if you’re not completing work to the expected standard (and, indeed, that you’re contracted to), it can be damaging. 

This can work against you when it comes to tendering for new contracts and, in even more dangerous scenarios, could even make other customers question thinking about leaving to join a competitor, too. It can be a dangerously slippery slope…

How can Automation solve these problems?

Now, let’s take a look at the solutions. We can’t promise that automation of your SLAs will keep breaches down to 0. While that would certainly be ideal, it’s highly unlikely. After all, mistakes happen, emergencies can be challenging to handle, and some things will be beyond your control. 

However, it’s essential to recognise that automation will give you a better grip on the bits and pieces you can control. In particular, it will enable you to keep track of time more efficiently and how you can respond to your customers and staff; that’s where automation is particularly helpful.

In most cases, automating communication is really about (perhaps somewhat ironically) taking you out of the equation: eliminating the need for you to be involved at all.

At the very least, it lets you rely on software to take care of a mundane (but necessary) task, so you and your staff can focus on the more critical tasks to hand (like actually speaking to a customer). 

Ultimately, automation will save you time on the administration side of things, such as sending notifications, updates, and confirmations; it also sets a standard for messages, ensuring consistency and clarity, amongst other things.

When it comes to SLAs, these points are of particular note:

i. Visual countdowns and timers on the job description

Humans are visual creatures, with over half of our brain’s usage committed to consciously and unconsciously deciphering the world around us.

It makes sense that we respond very positively to visual cues and alerts.

For SLAs, being able to visualise them makes it clear and memorable for the viewer, creating awareness of: the SLA itself, its status, and the time remaining. This can be a massive help, allowing staff to keep track easily. 

A good piece of automation software will integrate with your job management system, marrying up your data to make it accurate and easily accessible.

For example, engineers in the field can view these details via a mobile device, or staff back in the office can track it easily on their computer system.

Below, you can see a visual example of Commusoft’s own SLA tracking feature, which is an excellent representation of the visual tracking you might be after.

At a glance, the traffic-light-style colour-coded system shows you what’s completed (block green), what’s nearing breach (yellow), or what’s breached (block red).


Additionally, times are included with a live clock to the SLA countdown. Again, all it takes is a quick look, without digging through menus and more, to tell where you’re at and keep engineers up to speed.

ii. Automatic warnings and notifications

Combined with visual cues come notifications and warnings; it’d be no use tracking them if you couldn’t do anything useful with that information afterward. 

As such, depending on the automated solution you go for, these notices may be audible, visual, or both; either way, they help ensure the best response times by creating awareness about the status of an SLA in real-time. 

After all, if an SLA breaches, you’ll want to hear about it. Of course, the whole point of this is so that you know before a breach occurs as well, so Automation can be set up to help with that, too, thanks to automatic notifications. 

Notifications could be set up for the following criteria:

  • Start of an SLA being tracked: letting an engineer know the clock is ticking.
  • SLA at 50% completion: criteria still need to be completed, but it is compliant.
  • Confirmation of an SLA being completed, i.e. is no longer being tracked.
  • Confirmation of an SLA breach. This could indicate that follow-up is needed.

Whether to the engineer, the operations manager, the office staff, or even the customer, these notifications are a great way to give the relevant people the heads-up they need without checking in. This saves time on having to chase details and gives engineers a nudge or indication of how they’re performing in the case of status notifications.

Prevent SLA Penalties with our Guide

SLAs are a helpful way to keep track of how your service is performing, and successful implementation will depend significantly on how well you can monitor them, day in and day out. Start watching your service level agreements with our Free SLA Monitoring Spreadsheet.

Keep track of your  Service Level Agreements with the SLA monitoring tool

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