We've all heard it before: "The customer is always right." It's true, in a sense. The customer is often right about how they feel about your service—but what if you could take this principle to another level? What if you not only listened to your customers but also learned from them? That's where experience level agreements (XLAs) come in.
What’s the Difference Between an XLA and an SLA?
The main difference between an XLA and an SLA is in the purpose and outcome of the agreement. In an SLA, you'll find language that focuses on meeting a contractual obligation. In an XLA, the agreement focuses on the importance of experience.
Service Level Agreement (SLA)
As an output of IT, it’s worth noting that SLAs are the traditional method of measuring performance. These agreements are between a customer and provider, and they're based on technical measurements. For example, an organization might request 99.9% uptime from its cloud providers—which translates to 43 minutes per month or just over 8 hours per year—and then pay for service credits if those conditions aren't met.
The SLA is signed by both parties, so it’s a contract between two parties with obligations spelled out in detail in a formal agreement. An SLA typically measures availability (e.g., uptime), response time, resolution time, and similar metrics that measure how well applications or services perform within specific parameters set forth by both parties.
Experience Level Agreement (XLA)
XLAs are a new way of measuring performance. They’re based on more customer-centric metrics and focus on how well the customer’s experience is being met — this is a continuous process. XLAs are not a replacement for SLAs, but rather a way to enhance experience management.
While SLAs generally focus on technical measurements, XLAs rely more heavily on subjective measurements like customer satisfaction and loyalty. The goal of both types of agreements is to ensure that customers receive what they expect from their service provider as quickly as possible with as little frustration as possible.
Consider a customer that has submitted 10 incidents in 2 months to support due to laptop issues. All were resolved within the SLA, so IT believes they’ve done great work supporting them. However, a customer with 10 incidents in 2 months does not have a great experience. This is where XLAs come in, to differentiate and focus on the customer’s experience.
Here’s How To Implement XLAs
To begin, analyze your current employee experience. This will serve as a baseline for improvement and a starting point for the next steps in implementing an XLA.
Rather than waiting for user-submitted surveys, we recommend taking advantage of real-time monitoring of the customer experience. With 24/7 application supervision, you can instantly improve root-cause identification and analysis of user experience problems for faster resolutions in complex IT environments.
Once you’ve identified areas of improvement, share your findings with all teams involved in IT and the user experience. The more people who have access to this data, the better each team can leverage it when making decisions about how best to improve. Sharing information across teams is key to making sure everyone has access to all relevant knowledge when making decisions.
This is made even easier when you’re using an ITSM tool that already enables real-time discussion threads and data-sharing tools!
The next step is identifying specific goals for improving user experience across all channels — mobile app, web portal, or desktop application. For example: "By March 2020 we want new employee onboarding completion rate to be over 90%."
Once these goals have been set up and agreed upon by all stakeholders involved (employees included), it’s time to start working toward achieving them by making improvements as part of an XLA roadmap that ensures continuous improvement takes place every single week during its lifespan.
It’s Time To Improve Your Customer Experience
XLAs are an important component of effective experience management systems. In a nutshell, they're the new way to measure the performance of your customer experience organization. They help you improve your customer experience by providing a common language and framework for discussing how well you're delivering on your promises to customers—and they help you make changes that will help you deliver even better experiences going forward.
Have any questions? Contact our to find out how EasyVista is leading the charge with real-time monitoring of user experiences and on-demand customer surveys to help you enhance your ITSM with XLAs.