Ensure service standards are defined and monitored and corrective action taken as required
Quality of service delivery is paramount to the relationship between service provider and client. Best practice entails definition of service standards by means of a Service Level Agreement, ideally one incorporated into the main contract for services. The Agreement should provide for a regular review of service performance against agreed standards and may set fees, or levy financial penalties, according to performance. The prescribed review should be carried out in a timely manner and corrective action agreed on and actioned, with follow-up to ensure effectiveness.
Service providers' approaches to relationship management and account administration do vary. What's important is that the arrangements for a particular client allow for a strong, positive relationship to be built and support the client's structure. In all cases, there should be clear definition of responsibilities, from day-to-day contact to overall responsibility.
Clients should have access to systems and people during their usual business hours. Increasingly, service providers are moving towards access 24 hours a day and even 7 days a week.
Client queries should be dealt with promptly. The service provider's staff should take "ownership" of all queries. Standard response times should be agreed according to the nature of the query. There should be a clearly-defined escalation process where response times fall beyond the standard. Response times should be monitored as part of the review of service standards.
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