People sometimes make the mistake of thinking that just because they have outsourced SEO, that no problem will arise on their campaigns. If you have been in business for any length of time, then you know that problems happen. This is life. And this is true in business too. Many younger professionals work very hard to "never look bad" by brushing mistakes under the carpet or, worse, trying to pin mistakes on someone else. This may work for a little while, but it never lasts.
In my opinion, the truth always has a funny way of coming out in the end. I've seen it over and over. Anyone trying to pretend that their team doesn't make mistakes is just not going to be taken seriously. And this applies as much to your SEO reseller / outsource SEO team as much as it does to your direct employees.
So what are appropriate expectations when you outsource SEO or join an SEO reseller program? It is appropriate to expect high levels of service from your vendor. If they don't provide good service, it is appropriate to question why you are with them. There are certainly other SEO outsourcers around, and the threat that you could leave your current vendor and start up a relationship with another or join a different SEO reseller program is one reason that performance needs to be solid. But you can also take this too far.
Perfection is just not possible. An appropriate level of expectation is for great customer service, fantastic business results that are measurable (i.e., not just opinion) and appropriate reactions when things go wrong. And the last one, in my opinion, is where many people miss the boat. Again - Remember that something will go wrong on every project. There just are very few perfect projects. I know I've never seen one. So the measure of a good outsource SEO partner is one that quickly recognizes that something has gone wrong and appropriately responds. What I view as appropriate response from your SEO reseller team is:
1) Quickly owning the issue if it is theirs (i.e., not passing the buck).
2) Apologizing for the mistake.
3) Trying as much as possible to make things right (not always possible).
4) Offering a financial concession if the issue is serious (and if that would even be appropriate).
And overall, you should have the feeling that they care. The caring displayed the SEO reseller team is critical. This is your outsourced SEO team being accountable to you, their customer. And as we've discussed many times on this blog, an accountable SEO outsource team that actually knows what they are doing and can move difficult search engine rankings is harder to find than you think.