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The importance of SLAs and Soft Skills


What is a service level agreement (SLA)?

A service level agreement is a plain-language agreement between the Service Provider and the customer (whether internal or external) that defines the services to be delivered, the responsiveness that can be expected, and how performance will be measured.

SLAs define contractually agreed upon terms for services including things like uptime and support responsiveness. For instance, promising customers 99.9% service uptime or a response from support within specific hour(s). In addition to formalizing service expectations, SLAs set forth the terms for redress when requirements are breached.

The importance of the Service Level Agreement (SLA)

SLAs are a foundational agreement between the IT team and customers that are important in building trust. They manage customer expectations and allow the IT support team to know which issues they are responsible for resolving. With SLAs in place, there is mutual understanding of service expectations. Implementing SLAs can benefit both parties in numerous ways that include:

  • Strengthening IT’s relationship with customers – SLAs ease the concern over risk, which improves trust between parties. By defining what happens in the event of a breach, they reduce uncertainty.
  • Formalizing communication – Conversations with stakeholders about IT issues can be difficult. Non-issue specific phone calls ten times a day or, on the other hand, allowing a customer to quietly stew over their unspoken expectations for service performance. An SLA enables stakeholders to have structured conversations based on already agreed-upon terms.
  • Improving productivity and morale – SLAs define the urgency of incoming requests. They focus IT teams on which incoming issues matter the most.

MarPoint Approach

At MarPoint, via an SLA, we are committed to provide our customers with 24/7/365 services and via an automated ticketing system to meet and exceed their expectations regarding the quality of service/response time and issues troubleshooting with standardized procedures: Our SLA times are standardized depending on the nature of the event such as:

  • Issues that do not affect connectivity or core services
  • Issues that do not affect connectivity, but affect core services
  • Issues that affect connectivity
  • Change requests on functionality
  • Issues regarding problems on central infrastructure that do not affect core services
  • Issues that affect endpoints critical communication
  • Issues that affect endpoints non- critical communication

The importance of Soft Skills

The coronavirus pandemic has highlighted the importance of soft skills, both in customer service and in the wider maritime business. In a world where employees were plucked out of offices and in their homes, being a good communicator was extremely important. For teams to thrive, they must be able to communicate regularly and with ease. They must have someone they can turn to in their team – someone to answer questions or listen to them when they are struggling.

Soft skills are usually related to people social skills, social intelligence, and emotional intelligence. For a long time, hard skills have been the ones most in-demand by employers.

However, things are changing

In the maritime industry, people are starting to realize the importance of soft skills and the value they bring to the business. This is even true in departments where hard skills are extremely important, like IT. Studies have found that employers are more likely to hire someone who meets the experience requirements for the role and has soft skills than someone who exceeds the requirements (in both experience and qualifications) but has poor soft skills.

Why?

Because teamwork is extremely important. People want to work with likable people who will make their job easier, and communication is a key part of almost every job. During the pandemic customers were (and are) experiencing a range of complex emotions, and emotionally intelligent people are better able to build a rapport with these customers. They can understand their unique wants and needs better than employees who lack soft skills.

The following are the 7 soft skills:

  • Emotional intelligence – Do you have empathy, self-awareness, and social skills? Can you regulate your mood and emotions? Are you able to stay motivated and motivate others?
  • Team player attitude – Are you active in team discussions? Do you brainstorm ideas? Are you respectful of others’ boundaries?
  • Growth mindset – Can you persevere when you hit roadblocks?
  • Adaptability – Can you adapt to change without it disrupting your workflow or your sense of self? Can you make decisions without going to the manager with every question that pops into your head?
  • Responsiveness to feedback – Can you listen to feedback and take it on board without becoming defensive?
  • Active listening – Can you listen, really listen, to your teammates and customers?
  • Work ethic – Do you do tasks without being asked? Or do you just do the bare minimum that your job requires?

Despite the challenging times we are facing and economic uncertainty around the globe, MarPoint continues to expand its operations, to develop new innovative products and provide excellent Maritime IT Services to its customers.

As system administrators, we interact between the end user and the technology.

At MarPoint, we believe that the best IT support professionals understand people, just as well as they understand the IT.