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Article : New Year, New Contact Center RFP? 10 Mistakes to Avoid

#contactcenterworld, @BlueOceanTweets

If enhancing your customer experience is a strategic priority over the next 12 months, you might be looking at putting out a contact center RFP or RFI early in the new year. Because the partnership you have with a contact center is core to your customers’ journey with you, it’s a relationship that matters more than most client-vendor connections – so this is a procurement process that won’t follow your average templated path. In other words, the pressure’s on. But before you pull your hair out over what seems like an insurmountable task, take a breath and take a glance at the top 10 mistakes we’ve seen in contact center RFPs. Sometimes knowing what not to do makes it easier to get it right and to make the best decision for your business.

Mistake #1: Relying on a Limited Procurement Tool

Procurement software and tools promise to make your life easier and make the process more consistent. Sounds like a dream come true (and truth be told, templates for call center services RFPs have improved by leaps and bounds in just the past year or two,) but you need to know the potential limits. While some industries benefit from limits, the contact center world is very dependent on more intangible factors like cultural alignment and customer experience. These factors require some creativity when responding to and differentiating through the contact center RFP. If you’re set on using an existing procurement tool, ensure that the format and systems allow a vendor to clearly communicate their competitive differentiators and how they would structure your solution. Pro tips: Excel may not be the best choice of file formats and you will want to make it easy for bidders to add supplemental files and file types to highlight their facilities or share case studies.

Mistake #2: Not Setting Content Limits

The New Year is already a busy time; how much time do you realistically have to send out and then analyze RFP responses from potential vendors? We’re going to guess that you probably don’t want to be reading through multiple 150-page RFPs from different vendors when you have a deadline looming large. However, open ended RFP questions without setting limits or structure on answers will lead to that very scenario. We have seen all kinds of limits. For submissions that have to be emailed, you want to set a maximum file size. Bidders can choose what to prioritize within that limit. In some cases, we have seen word count limits on certain questions or page count limits on total submissions. Your procurement team and decision-makers will thank you. No one really wants to read a 75 page BCP plan in detail when a summary will allow you to assess risk just as well.

Mistake #3: Neglecting to Streamline Questions Written by Multiple Stakeholders

The perspectives of your company’s stakeholders are highly valuable because everyone will have their own expectations of a contact center partnership. Including their questions in the RFP will help you capture the big picture, but you need to ensure that they are not simply asking the same questions in different ways. Look for redundancy that might slow down the selection process. (We frequently see RFPs that ask essentially the same question several times in slightly different ways. At best, you will get multiple versions of the same answer written in a slightly different way, or even the same answer copied and pasted multiple times. In the worst case, you’ll get an answer that says: Please see the response to Question 2.3.ii. Something that will drive your adjudication panel bonkers while adding no value.)

Mistake #4: Being Too Vague About Employee Engagement

Customer experience and employee experience are closely correlated, so you want an outsourced partner who genuinely treats their employees well. An engaged contact center agent will likely be able to better connect with your customers. Achieving that level of engagement takes true commitment, so your RFP questions about employee engagement need to be specific to provide more value. Specifically, find out about the contact center’s commitment to their employees and the metrics they use to measure engagement. Ask about the engagement measurement process and ask what they do with the results. Ask about engagement trends over the past three years. Ask about exit survey results and trends. Dig deep on this one to find out what kind of an employer your potential strategic partner really is. For one of our clients, the final deciding factor at the end of a very long procurement process, was: which one of the finalists would you want to work for? You can weed out the weak links early in the process if you have strong engagement questions.

Mistake #5: Overlooking the Big Picture with Technology

It’s likely you’re already asking about technology in your contact center RFP. However, it can be easy to be too shortsighted in your questions. It’s important to recognize the outsourcer’s commitment to staying ahead of the curve in technological trends. Find out about recent platform upgrades and when the next ones are planned. How is a vendor staying ahead of new technologies? A great partner is one who can guarantee they will continue to invest in evolving technologies to enhance your customer experience even five or ten years from now.

Mistake #6: Duplicating RFP Templates from Other Service Requirements

It’s tempting to reply on existing procurement documents for the contact center RFP; this may in fact be a best practice or formal procedure within your organization. However, even the most talented procurement team may not be familiar with the intricacies of contact center operations, and using an RFP template from a different functional area, such as logistics or transportation simply won’t work. (We have even seen warehouse RFPs repurposed for call center services.) Ensure there is close collaboration between your procurement department and the operations staff who are involved the selection process.

Mistake #7: Focusing on the Wrong People Who’ll Be Doing the Work

Asking for the résumés or CVs of the mid-level operation people or specialized roles like trainers is a typical practice when sending out contact center RFPs. After all, you want to verify the qualifications and expertise of your outsourced team. However, getting too deep in these details may be a waste of time, especially if your selection process is quite long. It may be enough time for the person or people you’re checking into to move on or up in their career. Instead, focus on the more senior roles who will work on your account, since this scenario is likely to occur.

Mistake #8: Being Shortsighted Regarding Metrics and Reporting

Asking a potential contact center partner about metrics is a commonsense part of the RFP process. However, it shouldn’t stop there. The industry is evolving and the standard level of reporting is changing. You need to find out about their vision for the next iteration of reporting over the next five to ten years. What feedback is this outsourcer receiving from their clients regarding reporting? How do they act on that feedback? Your RFP needs to set up your partnership for the long-term. If you are seeking a strategic partner who can take your customer experience to a new level, focus less on asking about AHT and more about practices, processes, and reporting around customer satisfaction.

Mistake #9: Neglecting to Ask about Worst Case Scenario Customer Service

80% of your customer service is based on the everyday scenarios and finding out how a partner handles those interactions is obviously highly important. But you need to gain a solid understanding of how they operate in worse case scenarios. For the retail industry, this might be during the high volume and rush of seasonal shopping. For roadside assistance, the height of summer or depths of winter are often inundated with complex seasonality spikes and worst-case scenario customer service situations. Find out how a partner prepares for and adjusts to these cases.

Mistake #10: Failing to Ask about Management Team Tenure

Comparing the tenure of an outsourcer’s management team of the history of the company will give you insight into how they weather together in the storm. High turnover is a red flag and will create turmoil for clients.
#contactcenterworld, @BlueOceanTweets


About Blue Ocean Contact Centers:
Company LogoWe thrive on delivering critical customer service solutions that go beyond transactional interactions. As such, our goal is to enhance lifetime customer value, providing support that is a reflection of your brand promise, even in high-pressure, complex customer service scenarios.
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Today's Tip of the Day - 100% Recording

Read today's tip or listen to it on podcast.

Published: Thursday, December 7, 2017

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2024 Buyers Guide IVR

 
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Call Center Studio

Call Center Studio
Call Center Studio is the world’s first call center built on Google and is one of the most secure and stable systems with some of the industry’s best reporting. It is one of the most full-featured enterprise grade systems (with the most calling features, one of the best call distribution, outbound dialing features and integrations—including IVR, AI Speech Recognition, blended inbound/outbound calling and includes Google’s new Dialogflow and Speech API. Call Center Studio is the absolute easiest to use (with a 10 minute setup), and is the price performance leader with lower equipment cost and less setup time.


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Computer Data Services, LLC

VIRTUAL PBX
Get the benefits of an expensive, on-premise telephone system without the high price tag and annoying maintenance.

- Never miss another phone call
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- Answer your calls from anywhere

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eGain Corporation

eGain SmartIVR
eGain SmartIVR is an over-the-top solution to modernize IVR systems. Businesses can offer smartphone callers an easy choice to resolve queries via digital messaging and intelligent self-service. And they can optimize the IVR experience with end-to-end analytics.

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Virtual Phone Numbers (DID) and Business VoIP Phone Service
Whether a customer is running a Call Center business, an IVR system to take phone orders or a voice mail service bureau, he still needs inbound lines and access numbers (DIDs). These lines and DIDs give customers the ability to call in and use the service. Traditionally, these lines and DIDs were obtained through the local telephone company (i.e. Verizon, AT&T or Time Warner) and a company could only purchase numbers with area codes in the region the system resided. With VoIP, this has changed.

DID Live is an IP DID service that allows you to accept incoming calls via VoIP as an alternative to standard digital or analog lines. The service provides the same quality of sound you expect from...
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Pointel

Voice Self Service
Voice self-service can reduce cost and improve customer satisfaction. As with every system implementation, it is not the software, but the implementation that will define the success of the project. This also holds true for self-service implementations. Pointel follows a unique and proven process to implement voice self service. This process has been fine-tuned through years of experience implementing contact center and self-service applications. Pointel can design and develop solutions that will meet and exceed our client’s voice application needs. With several years of experience in Genesys GVP(Genesys Voice Platform) implementation and integration, Pointel can provide an integrated voice...
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Teckinfo Solutions Pvt. Ltd.

IVR Edge
IVR Edge is a high performance, robust and scalable ivr system that works on various leading hardware such as Dialogic, Keygoe and Synway etc. It can handle the simplest of simple to the most complex of requirements to when it come to creating an IVR. Integration with any 3rd party database, be it for banking, telecom, insurance, travel, payment gateway etc can be handled with ease. Ideally suited to create Hosted IVR and virtual patching solutions with scalabilities that can range from 4 to 128 E1’s per setup with voice recording and CDR functionality. Integration with leading text to speech (TTS) and speech recognition ASR engines add to the flexibility and functionality.
 

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