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Set SLAs for conversations and tickets
Set SLAs for conversations and tickets

How to hit and measure your response times using SLAs in Workflows.

Pranava Tandra avatar
Written by Pranava Tandra
Updated over a week ago

SLAs (Service Level Agreements) help set a target for your team to provide a consistent, high-quality customer experience. By setting SLAs using Workflows, you can provide each customer with the perfect level of support.

If you're only getting started with Workflows, check out the free Academy courses.

SLAs allow you to:

  • Ensure your team prioritizes urgent conversations and tickets.

  • Provide VIP customers with support based on response times you’ve agreed with them.

  • Set time-based targets for your Sales team to reply to high-value leads.

  • Set internal performance goals for your Support team.

SLA's are only available on certain plans.


Get started

First, create a Workflow based on a trigger. If you want the SLA to be added when the conversation or ticket is created, choose the trigger:

  • "Customer opens a new conversation in the Messenger", or

  • "A ticket is created"

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Multiple Workflows with SLAs matching the same trigger and audience can unexpectedly override each other. Make sure only one Workflow will match your SLA rules.

You can then create conditional branching to apply an SLA based on rules that you create. This is helpful to apply a faster SLA to your most important customers.

Mix And / Or filters under the conditional branches for more specific targeting.

Configure the SLA rule

Clicking on the Apply SLA widget within the Workflow will allow you to:

  • Set the target for your team’s first response time (FRT) - This is the time it should take a teammate to reply to the first message in a conversation that matches your rule.

  • Set a target for your next response time (NRT) - This is the time it takes a teammate to reply to each subsequent reply from a customer who matches your SLA rule.

  • Add time to close (TTC) metrics - This is the the total time taken to close conversations or tickets. NEW

SLA is applied to the last message (most recent) from when the SLA was triggered.

For example 👇

  1. User message

  2. User message used by SLA to measure response time

  3. SLA triggered

  4. User message NOT used by SLA to measure response time

In addition to the above SLA metrics, you can also:

  • Add time to resolve (TTR) metrics - A metric specific to tickets, measuring the total time taken to resolve a ticket. NEW

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Using SLAs on Back-office tickets:

Since there is no customer involvement with Back-office tickets, FRTs and NRTs are not supported on Back-office tickets, only TTC and TTR are available for this ticket type.

Pausing an SLA

There is also an SLA time adjustment setting that will enable you to pause SLAs when a conversation/ticket is "snoozed" or "waiting on customer".

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These are the supported objects and metrics:

  • Conversations: All metrics available except TTR.

  • Customer tickets: All metrics available.

  • Back-office tickets: FRT and NRT unavailable & reporting is not currently supported.

  • Tracker tickets: Not available & reporting is not currently supported.

SLA rules take your office hours into consideration. For example, if your office hours are set to 9am - 6pm, and your SLA first response time is 15 minutes, a message received at 5:50pm will have an expected response time of 9:05am on the next working day.

Overriding SLAs

You can set up Workflows that will override current SLAs and apply new SLAs. This functionality would scale for support teams that have a tiered support models particularly useful in scenarios like converting conversations to tickets with the need for new SLAs to be applied.

Once you’ve added all your Workflow settings, you can simply hit Save and set live.

You can pause or delete an SLA Workflow at any time. If you do, the SLA Workflow will stop applying to new conversations. However, it will still apply to conversations that matched the rule before you paused or deleted it.

Remove an SLA

You can manually remove an SLA by selecting the three dots next to a conversation (in the inbox list of conversations) then click Remove SLA.


Inbox experience

When a conversation matches an SLA rule, you’ll see the nearest SLA target in your inbox.

Additionally you can also see other SLA metrics associated with a conversation upon hover in the right sidebar Details.

image.png

When a customer replies to the next message, the SLA target will change to the "next response time" target, if you've set one.

The SLA target will continue to count down until you reply. If you haven’t replied within the SLA target, its status will change to red. Here’s what each SLA indicator means:

  • Red: Overdue.

  • Orange: Less than 5 minutes left on the timer.

  • Grey: More than 5 minutes left on the timer.

You can easily reply to the most urgent SLA targets first, by sorting your inbox by "Next SLA target".

Depending on the options you have chosen for pausing SLAs, you’ll notice the SLAs pause upon "snooze" or "waiting on customer" ticket status.

image.png

Overriding SLAs when converting conversations to tickets

If you have previously set a Workflow for when a ticket is created → apply SLA and then convert a conversation to a ticket in the inbox, this will result in a new SLA being applied to the ticket.

image.png

When a new SLA is applied over an existing one, the resolution and closure timings will continue to count from the beginning of the conversation.

How does the overriding logic work?

Example scenarios

FRT

NRT

TTC

TTR

A conversation with SLA 1 is overridden with SLA 2.

Restarts

Restarts

Resumes

A conversation with SLA 1 is converted to a ticket and SLA 2 is applied.

Restarts

Restarts

Resumes

Applied first time

A ticket with SLA 1 is overridden with SLA 2.

Restarts

Restarts

Resumes

Resumes

When a Workflow is matched, and it wants to apply an SLA to a conversation:

  • If the conversation already has a teammate message, then the first reply timer does not start. The next response timer starts only from the next customer response.

  • The teammate will see the [SLA name] was applied by [Workflow name] in the conversation events, but they won't see a timer on the conversation card, since the first reply timer wasn't started.


SLA reporting

Access the SLAs report with combined tickets and conversations reporting readily available. This shows whether an SLA is applied and hit or missed (including overridden SLAs).

Filter down by specific SLAs or teams to see sliced data, including:

  • First response time

  • Next response time

  • Time to close

  • Time to resolution (tickets only)

image.png


You can also create custom reports using the SLA metrics & attributes for a more detailed breakdown of your SLAs reporting.

Tracker tickets and Back-office tickets are currently not supported in reports.


FAQs

How do I measure resolution time for my conversations?

Time to close metric will be helpful when wanting to better manage and measure your operational efficiency, providing data to understand and set agreements on overall handling time of conversations.


This also gives an end to end metric for tickets as well.

How do I measure resolution time for my tickets?

Time to resolve for tickets will be relevant to use when considering compliance requirements or agreements with VIP customers, on the time committed to providing a resolution to your customer.

How do calendar hours and office hours work?

All SLA metrics are set in calendar hours and will be divided by the office hours you've set, meaning:

  • If office hours are between 9am and 5pm, then the default office hours are 8.

    • 8 hours = 1 business day.

  • If you set time to close for a conversation as 24 hours or 1 day, then this will be divided by the office hours, in this case the teammate has 3 business days to close the conversation.

Learn more about SLAs and office hours.

What happens to time to resolve if I move a ticket from the "resolved" state back to "in progress"?

If a ticket is moved from "resolved" back to "in progress" and has a time to resolve SLA applied, the timer will resume, and continue counting until the ticket state is once again moved to "resolved".


What happens if I reopen a ticket or conversation, after having previously closed it?

If a ticket or conversation is moved from "closed" back to "open" and has a time to close SLA applied, the timer will resume, and continue counting until the ticket or conversation is once again "closed".

Why is my time to resolve countdown still running even after I have closed a ticket?

If a conversation linked to a ticket is closed without resolving the ticket, the time to resolve will continue running until the ticket state is changed to "resolved".


What happens if a ticket status changes from "waiting on customer" to "in progress", but the ticket is still "snoozed"?

If you have chosen to pause SLAs on both "waiting on customer" and "snooze" states, the SLA will remain paused until neither of those states apply. For example, if a ticket moves to "in progress" from "waiting on customer", the SLA will continue to be paused until the ticket is unsnoozed.

What happens in the inbox when I pause an SLA outside office hours?

When you pause an SLA, the SLA will continue to show as "paused" in the inbox, whether you are within or outside of office hours.


Can I apply multiple SLAs to the same conversation at once?

No, you can't apply multiple SLAs to the same conversation at once. However, you can link it to a Back-office ticket and you can run parallel SLAs at once - one for your main object [conversation / ticket] and one for your back office ticket.

Can I get a breakdown of all the SLAs applied per conversation?

No, a breakdown of all the SLAs applied per conversation is currently not supported.

What happens to the countdown timer when I apply a new SLA overriding the previous one?

A new SLA that is different to the SLA already applied (such as SLA 1 vs SLA 2), will completely override SLA 1. It won't add the elapsed time from SLA 1 to SLA 2, instead it will start from the most recent user message (which may be different to SLA 1's trigger message).

For example 👇

  • 19:07: User message sent SLA 1 triggered

  • 20:30: User message sent SLA 2 applied

The SLA timer would restart from the second user message at 20:30 and this would be used to measure the response time.

However, if the same SLA is applied (e.g. SLA 1 is originally applied, and then a rule re-applies SLA 1) the countdown won't restart, it adds the elapsed time from the previous SLA to the current SLA.

For example 👇

  • 19:07: User message sent SLA 1 triggered

  • 20:30: User message sent SLA 1 applied again

The SLA timer would add the elapsed time from when SLA 1 was triggered on the first user message at 19:07 and this would be used to measure the response time.

What happens to the countdown timer when a teammate sends a message when "waiting on customer"? Will it still be paused?

Yes, when a teammate sends a message when a ticket state is "waiting on customer", the countdown will continue to be paused until the customer replies.

How can I edit SLAs in Intercom?

Currently, it's not possible to edit an SLA directly. You would need to archive/delete the SLA and create a new one. Here's a help article that can show you how to delete the old SLAs.

In the Help Desk, you may notice an SLA being applied to an earlier part of the conversation, and appear that it isn't being added at the correct time. This is expected-- when Intercom applies an SLA, we set it with the 'start time' of the user's last interaction in the conversation. In some cases, this might go all the way back to the user's first message.


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