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The New Technology Standard: Why XLAs Are More Significant Than SLAs for Mobility

For businesses accustomed to traditional service level agreements (SLAs), the emergence of experience level agreements (XLAs) represents a valuable new perspective to help increase end- user satisfaction and boost productivity. Putting an XLA into place is just the first step—you also need the right mobility strategy and tools designed around the user experience to make the most of this innovative approach.

What are XLAs, and how are they different from SLAs?

SLAs have long been a benchmark for performance metrics. They measure factors such as:

  • Timeliness and accuracy of device deliveries,
  • Amount of time to get international roaming activated
  • Required time to close out warranty claims
  • Number of devices recycled in a given time period

An SLA provides a window into the performance of activities that are typically cut and dried. That’s useful information, but it doesn’t tell the full story of a mobility program’s success.

Here’s where XLAs are gaining steam. Rather than evaluating output, which is the strength of SLAs, XLAs instead focus on outcomes. Where SLAs are very quantitative and center on the measurement of the actual process, XLAs are all about the employee experience. How happy and satisfied was the end- user during and after the process? This perspective enables businesses to see whether their mobility programs are delivering a good user experience.

Why XLAs Matter

As enterprises look for ways to optimize operations and maintain a productive workforce, XLAs hold clear value. Why? Because it’s possible to meet and even exceed every SLA but still fall short of making the organization’s mobility program a success. If employees can order and receive a new phone within a few days but the ordering tool is too complex, for example, then the terms of the SLA may have been met but the worker’s experience will have been poor and may have led them to order the wrong item. Similarly, making apps accessible may be part of the SLA, but if the process to add apps is clunky, confusing, and full of friction, then users are likely to feel the company isn’t empowering them with the tools they need to be productive in their roles.

Delivering on user satisfaction when it comes to business technology has never been more vital. 72% of employees and 88% of managers in a recent survey said that access to modern digital tools is a key factor when evaluating new jobs. Another survey found that unhappiness or frustration with workplace tech would make 49% of employees likely to leave their current job.

In addition, mobility presents a unique opportunity for enterprises to engage end-users. People are passionate and emotional about their phones, and by extension the process they use to choose and manage those devices. Is the process to add a new feature to their existing service clear or is it fraught with frustration? Are the people on the help desk knowledgeable, or do employees leave the call with their problem still unresolved? Whether ordering, support, and other processes are easy or difficult, whether employees are offered assistance when they need it or must muddle through issues on their own - from start to finish there’s emotion wrapped into each step.

A recent survey found that Americans check their phones 344 times per day on average. In a UK survey, 59% of respondents said they often check their phones out of habit rather than for a particular reason.

Contractual boundaries are only one part of a successful mobility program. If the process itself negatively impact users’ emotions—even if SLA terms are met—it can generate deep dissatisfaction and hinder productivity.

XLAs and SLAs Are Most Powerful When Used Together

The growing popularity of XLAs doesn’t mean that SLAs are going away. While the focus on SLAs may fade as XLAs gain prominence, businesses will achieve the best results when both mechanisms are used in tandem. SLAs are very IT centric and that’s an important perspective, but understanding how happy, productive and connected end- users are equally essential to maintaining a healthy and effective workforce.

A well-developed XLA brings together the software, the services and all the different elements of the mobility program. This is important, because end- users aren’t interested in things like which portal is used or who fulfills their orders. For workers, the outcome that matters and that determines their satisfaction with the technology tools is:

  • quick and easy access to the right devices
  • the right connectivity
  • the right apps

Blending an XLA and an SLA ensures this loop is complete, enabling the organization to understand how well the mobility program is delivering on end-user satisfaction and productivity. In addition, this helps determine how closely the vendor has met its contractual obligations.

What to Look for in an XLA

The desired outcome is happy users, because happy users are connected, productive and more likely to stay at the company. Reaping the best results for your organization’s end-users means making their experience the best it can be.

✅Are interactions with your employees shaped to deliver the best outcomes?
✅Are the procurement, delivery and recycling processes designed to reduce friction for users and deliver positive results?
✅How are user experience metrics gathered, measured, and acted upon?
✅What does your provider do with the feedback it receives?
✅How often is your mobility provider asking for user feedback?

By thinking at the individual level and putting end-users first, we’ve found the benefits come in the form of higher employee retention, increased worker satisfaction, more vigorous employee engagement and better productivity. Conventional wisdom puts the business first, but in the modern workplace, putting the end-user first has important downstream results that affect the business in a compelling and positive way.