A service level agreement for competitive intelligence

One of the things that Aqute has been considering is offering a Service Level Agreement for the competitive intelligence that we deliver.

Suppose you were designing a Service Level Agreement for competitive intelligence, what would you put in it, and at what level would you guarantee service?

There don't seem to be many market research SLAs to use as templates. Below are listed some possible items to include. Are they sensible? What would you include?

  • Results: The data should be accurate. Perhaps 95% of any given set of data should be accurate. And/or any modeled or estimated should be accurate to within 10%.
  • Presentation: The basics should be right. If you’re making spelling mistakes, it’s going to make the client nervous about the data and analysis. But is it too 'menial' to guarantee that spelling, grammar etc will be 100% correct?
  • Timing: This should be low hanging fruit – a promise to always deliver on time. After all, it’s the vendor that sets the timeline in the first place.
  • Revisions: Should there be a promise to revise the research until the client is happy? This sounds like asking for trouble, although in fact it’s pretty much what Aqute does. Clients are unlikely to abuse the option. The alternative is to promise, say, three revisions, but what if the client still is not happy?
  • Response time: With some of our retainer clients, we promise to reply within 12/24/48 hours depending on who sends off research requests. Should this be a standard promise - e.g. acknowledge all requests within 6 hours, turn around all simple follow ups within 48 hours?
  • Confidentiality: Clients are often concerned about their involvement remaining confidential. This seems like an easy thing to promise - that the client's involvement will never be known.

For an SLA to be worth anything, there must be penalties - how should these be set? For example:

  • If we make a mistake in x% of our data, that means x% off the project price.
  • For every day that delivery is late, that's 5% off the project price.
  • If the client's involvement in a project becomes public through our actions, 50% (100%?) off the project price.

We are feeling our way around this, and realize that it may be an impractical goal to have an SLA in a service that may not be completely measurable - so all suggestions are welcome.