SLA rules

Overview

Service-level agreements (SLAs) are a commonly used tool to help businesses maintain a high standard for response times, and keep their customers happy. Whether you have internal response time requirements for your team, or formal SLAs with your customers, Front will help you reach your goals.

Front’s SLA rules are like guardrails for your inbox, so you and your team can ensure every customer is responded to in time. Just set your response time goal and specify when breaches should apply, and Front will take care of surfacing urgent conversations — even before a breach happens.

We even offer reporting specifically for SLAs, so that you can track your team's breaches, and gauge the effectiveness of your SLA rules.


How it works

Front’s SLA rule builder allows you to define SLA breaches based on how much time has passed in a conversation without an outbound reply from your team, i.e. how long a customer spends waiting for a reply after they send you a message.

If the conditions of your rule’s Scope are met, and your rule’s Time limit has passed, then the rule will trigger an SLA breach, and add an SLA breach tag to the conversation. You can add additional resulting Actions for SLA breaches, such as notifying specific teammates of a breach, automatically assigning breached conversations, and more.

Add an optional SLA warning to your rule in order to bring attention to upcoming breaches before they occur. SLA warnings apply an SLA warning tag to help your team prioritize time-sensitive conversations. Like SLA breaches, you can add additional actions for SLA warnings.

To set up SLA rules for your team, follow the steps below.


Instructions

Step 1

Click the gear icon on the top right of Front and into the Company settings tab, and select Rules under your team name. You need to be a Team Admin to create SLA rules in Front.

Step 2

To add a new SLA rule:

Front's rules library contains templates which you can use to create SLA rules. Click Add from library to access the rules library, then within the rules library, go to the SLA section, and click Create SLA.

To edit an existing SLA rule:

Go to the SLA rules tab of your Team Rules, and select the rule you wish to edit.

Step 4

Enter a name for your SLA rule (if creating a new rule).

Step 5

Under Scope, select which inboxes the rule will apply to.

Click More options to add additional conditions for your rule. More information on rule condition filters can be found here.

Step 6

Under Time limits, use SLA is breached when... to set the time at which your breach will occur. For example, if you want your team to respond to customers within 2 hours, then use Conversation is unreplied after 2 hours.

Use the dropdown menu to choose whether you'd like your SLA rule to run only during business hours (Within business hours), or at all hours (Regardless of business hours).

Note that you can also adjust your team's business hours by clicking Edit business hours. Be aware that changing your business hours here will adjust business hours for the team as a whole, and will impact your analytics.

Step 7 (optional)

Add an SLA warning to your rule. Click + Time limit and choose the time at which you'd like to be warned of upcoming breaches. The time you set under Add a warning in advance for potential SLA breaches must be less than the time set for SLA is breached when...

Step 8

In the Actions section, determine what will happen when your SLA is breached.

Use the Add tag dropdown menu to select which tag will be applied when your SLA is breached (this is a mandatory step, and the Add tag action cannot be removed). We suggest using an easily visible tag such as 🔥 SLA Breach. See here for how to create a new tag.

You can also add additional Actions. See our guide to rule conditions for more details.

Step 9

If you set up an SLA warning in Step 7, you will see the Warn my team about an upcoming SLA breach by doing this... section, where you can choose an SLA warning tag, and add additional actions for SLA warnings.

Step 10

Click Create SLA to save your rule.

Step 11 (optional)

Pin your SLA breach/warning tags to your workspace to easily reference breached conversations. Follow the steps here to pin the tags to your workspace. 


Reporting

Front Analytics includes dedicated reporting on your SLA rules. For more details, check out our SLA report article.


FAQ

What happens when I change business hours in Analytics?

The business hours set in your Analytics dashboard sync to all of your team's SLA rules. This means that if you initially set your business hours to 9 am-5 pm in the SLA rule builder, then later change your business hours to 8 am-6 pm in your Analytics dashboard, this will carry over to the SLA rule, and your SLA rule will be based off the 8 am-6 pm business hours moving forward. 

Note that changing your business hours can impact current conversations, and cause your SLA rules to not run if the time frame no longer aligns with your new business hours.

Why did the breach tag disappear from my conversation?

The goal of SLA rules is to bring attention to conversations that are actively breached and need action. When you reply to a message that has been flagged with an SLA breach or SLA warning tag, Front will automatically remove the SLA breach tag or warning tag. This signifies that action has been taken on the conversation, and allows the SLA timer to restart upon the next inbound message in the conversation.

What trigger events can cause my SLA rule to run?

A conversation will become subject to your SLA rule any time a new inbound message is received in one of the inboxes specified in the rule's Scope, or when a conversation is moved to one of these inboxes.

Do SLA rules work on archived or snoozed conversations?

No. If the SLA timer expires, and the conversation is currently Archived or Snoozed, the SLA rule will skip this conversation and the rule will not run. However, if the conversation is reopened or the snooze expires before the SLA timer expires, then the SLA rule will still run.

Does snoozing extend an SLA rule's timer?

No, the SLA timer continues to run while the conversation is Snoozed, and the period of time does not extend the rule's time limits.

Example 1:

Your team has a 1 hour SLA rule set up. 

A message arrives at 9 am. At 9:30 am, you set a snooze for one hour. At 10 am, when the SLA timer expires, the conversation will still be in a Snoozed state, and the SLA rule will not run. At 10:30 am, your snooze expires. The SLA rule has already skipped the 9 am message, but the next inbound message in the conversation can still trigger the SLA rule.

Example 2:

Your team has a 1 hour SLA rule set up.

A message arrives at 9 am. You immediately snooze the conversation for 30 minutes. At 9:30 the snooze expires and reopens the conversation. At 10 am, you still have not replied to the 9 am message, so the SLA rule will trigger and your SLA will breach.

Do multiple inbounds reset the SLA timer? 

No, if your customer emails you multiple times before you can respond, it will not reset your SLA timer. Your SLA will trigger based on when the first message that meets your SLA conditions was received, i.e. the SLA rule calculates breaches based on the oldest unreplied message in the conversation.

Can SLA rules pause outside business hours?

Yes. If you select Within business hours under Time limits, the SLA timer will only run during business hours.

For example, if your team has a 4-hour SLA time limit, and business hours are 8am – 5pm, then a message arriving at 4 pm will breach its SLA the next day at 11am. Front will count 4 business hours and not include your off-hours.

Can I set individual or company SLA rules?

No. SLA rules are only available as team rules, and cannot be set up as individual rules or Company rules.


Pricing

SLA rules are available on the Prime plan or above. Some legacy plans with different names may also have this feature.

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