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I have been a web developer for quite a few years now, all my clients being acquaintances or similar. I now have a more formal client that I have recently created a website for. They are interested in a maintenance contract and would like me to create a service level agreement for them.

I am confident that I will be able to create an SLA, I have downloaded various templates that I can tweak to suit my business and their needs. I am planning to offer clients the chance to buy 'credits' at a set amount per credit. Once their credits run out, they can purchase.

They have asked me the following questions, which I'd like some help with if at all possible;

  • How would the support usage be measured?
  • How would email support be measured?
  • What kind of response times would we have?
  • Are there holiday exceptions where support would not be available?

My initial answers to the questions would be;

- I will provide an estimate of credit usage before commencing any work

- Free email support if response is under 15 minutes

- A 3 day business response time. Resolution times will vary

- Support will not be available when I am on annual leave (1 week per year)

Do these sound like reasonable answers?

The email question has me particularly stuck. Sometimes I will receive an email that I can quickly respond to and takes no more than 2 - 3 minutes for a reply. However other email queries rely on me sending instructions and screenshots etc.

Bear in mind I do this work in my spare time as I also have a full time job.

Any advice would be greatly appreciated.

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If you have a full time job, I'd make it clear that prompt support is only available during, for example, 5:00pm and 10:00pm (depending on your availability). Prompt support will mean a response (even if it's just an acknowledgement) within 15 minutes. That is the first step, as there is nothing quite like having a client calling when I'm in a meeting with my day-job's boss.

Credits are a system I haven't used, but Microsoft does. Have the client purchase the credits ahead of time, set an expiry period on unused credits, and use the credits for support incidents. I can understand why the client wants this, but you need to be sure about it - if a credit is per incident, that can be a 15 minute fix, or a 2 week fix! If it's time slots, then I'm wondering why credits and not an hourly charge.

Be aware of free email support if quick - Yes, a simple yes or no should be free. Screenshots or walkthroughs or creating extra work for yourself needs to be billed. Use your credits or hourly charge for this.

As a freelancer, it's hard to take a break, unless you have coverage. Until you do, ensure that you give the client as much lead time as possible before you take vacation so they can plan accordingly.

  • thanks for such a comprehensive answer @Canadian Luke. This is exactly the sort of advice I was hoping for. When I say they buy credits, one credit = one hour. Rather than people buying one hour at a time they can purchase 5 or 10 credits in bulk. – jonboy May 4 '16 at 19:46
  • Ahhh, that makes good sense! I've only seen credits by Microsoft – Canadian Luke REINSTATE MONICA May 4 '16 at 19:56

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