As with any contractual agreement with an external supplier, there must be attention to detail over every aspect of the arrangement, starting with the service level agreement (SLA).
The SLA should be bespoke to each employer, depending on what is important to its business. Typically, this will be based around reliability of voucher issuance, ease of administration and quality of the support provided (both field-based and over the phone).
Alison Chalmers, director of Kiddivouchers, says: “A typical service level agreement should cover areas such as providing scheme statements and invoices to employers in a timely manner, making payments to childcare providers, availability of helpline facilities, timescales for processing queries, complaints procedures and the requirement to provide necessary information to all parties involved in the scheme.”
As part of the contract, there should be key performance indicators or benchmarks in place to make sure you are getting value from the service that the voucher company is providing you with.
According to Tracy Wilson, operations manager at Co-operative Employee Benefits, these should include things like ensuring that vouchers are released on time, that telephone calls are answered promptly, that queries are responded to quickly and thoroughly and that the supplier website is reliable.
Employers often choose their own key performance indicators, which may be influenced by the level of service they have received in the past and, as Chalmers advises: “Employers should also benchmark their scheme take-up rate and the fee they are paying for their scheme.”