Article : Top 10 Mistakes to Avoid in Writing a Contact Center RFP (Request for Proposal)
We know what it’s like to be pulling your hair out over writing a call center RFP. When you’re under pressure and your time is stretched thin, it can seem like an insurmountable task. And yet, it’s vital to the health of your company to choose a contact center partner that is the right fit. Unlike other vendor relationships, this one represents the face of your brand and becomes an extension of your team, so a strong RFP is key to successfully outsourcing your call center.
That said, when faced with a looming deadline, it’s easy to make decisions in writing the contact center RFP that simply don’t serve you in the best capacity. The following are some of the biggest mistakes we’ve seen.
Relying on a Limited Procurement Tool
Using procurement software and tools can be a genius move if you want to save time and maintain consistency. However, it does run the risk of limiting how creative a vendor can be in responding to your RFP. In some industries, this is probably a good thing. But in the contact center world, where cultural alignment plays a huge role in customer experience, a little creative license is going to help you differentiate the mediocre from the outstanding. If you’ve already invested in a powerful procurement tool, be sure to provide an option to upload additional documents (with a generous file size limit). This will allow vendors to send you any "out of the box" information regarding the look and feel of their facilities, case studies, and more.
Writing Open Ended Questions without Imposing a Word Limit
Is your selection process only scheduled to take a couple of weeks? If that’s the case, we highly doubt your selection team wants to be reading 150 page RFPs from an armful of different contact centers. But that’s exactly what you’ll end up with if you neglect to impose a word limit on open ended questions. Likewise, the length of the entire document should align with the proposed length of the selection process.
Neglecting to Streamline Questions Written by Multiple Stakeholders
It can be highly valuable to include perspectives from multiple company stakeholders in your contact center RFP. It will help you capture the big picture. However, be aware of questions that everyone is asking in three different ways. Is that a strategic move to determine a vendor’s consistency in answering? Or is it simply redundant? Redundancy will slow down the selection process, so ensure that the final version is edited by a single point of contact.
Being Too Vague About Employee Engagement
There is a strong correlation between customer experience and employee experience. An engaged contact center employee who feels valued and empowered to make a contribution will be better connected at the consumer level when a call comes into their headset. For this reason, the more specific you can get with questions about employee engagement, the more valuable the RFP will be. Find out about the call center’s commitment to employee experience and dig into the associated metrics.
Asking Questions about Metrics that Are Too Broad
Questions about average speed of answer and other KPI-driven data are important. However, each client the contact center serves will have completely different metrics. An average of all of those won’t go far in telling you what to expect. Instead, focus on project-based metrics and case studies that align with your industry and type of customer service. For example, are you looking for roadside assistance or outbound sales support? These are very different worlds with vastly different metrics.
Overlooking the Big Picture with Technology
Contact center technology is a key feature of their service, so questions about their technical infrastructure are essential. But it doesn’t stop there. Narrow in on the outsourcer’s commitment to stay ahead of the technology curve. When was the last platform upgrade and when will be the next? For a successful long term relationship with your call center partner, you need to ensure that not only can they engage your customers right now, but also five or ten years from now.
Duplicating RFP Templates from Other Industries
Too often, we’ve seen the scenario where the operations person in charge of the vendor relationship must rely on the procurement department for the call center RFP. But even the most talented procurement team may not be familiar with the nuances of contact center operations, choosing to modify an RFP from another department, such as a warehouse RFP. This simply doesn’t work. Make sure there is close collaboration between operations and procurement to ensure high value customization.
Focusing on the Wrong People Who’ll Be Doing the Work
You want to verify that your outsourced team is qualified and competent to meet the needs of your company and its customers, so it’s common for RFPs to ask for the resumes or CVs of the people intended to do the work. However, it may be a mistake to go deep into this process, especially if your selection process is several months long; this would be enough time for the person or people you’re asking about to move on or move up in their career. This is less likely to happen with more senior roles, so focus on supervisory and management positions.
Being Short Sighted Regarding Metrics and Reporting
It’s commonsense to ask a potential contact center partner what they do in regards to reporting and metrics. Equally important, though, is their vision for the next iteration of reporting five or ten years from now. The industry is evolving and the standard level of reporting is changing. Your call center RFP should ask how their reporting can help you make good, long-term decisions for your business. What feedback have they received from current clients about reporting? How do they act upon that?
Neglecting to Ask about Worst Case Scenario Customer Service
Finding out how a contact center outsourcer handles everyday customer service is important, but even more vital is gaining a solid understanding of how they operate in worst case scenarios. If you’re in eCommerce, that would be during the rush of seasonal shopping. If you’re in roadside assistance, eight months of the year are fairly straightforward, but the other four at the height of summer or the depths of winter are inundated with really complex seasonality spikes. Dig into the customer service pain points to get an idea of what to expect.
Bonus Tip: Ask about Management Team Tenure
An insightful contact center RFP should touch on the average tenure of the outsourcer’s management team. Compare tenure to the history of the company. This will tell you a lot about how they weather together in the storm. High turnover means turmoil for clients.
A smooth RFP process is a chief factor in choosing a valuable contact center outsourcer.
ContactCenterWorld.com is the Global Association for Contact Center and Customer Engagement Best Practices and is the largest networking group for contact center industry professionals with over 145,000 professional members. Founded in 1999, ContactCenterWorld.com helps members improve service, performance, reduce costs, enhance sales and employee engagement.
About the Top Ranking Performer Awards
The annual Top Ranking Performer Awards was established in 2006 and is regarded by some as the Olympics of the contact center world as companies from all around the world compete for these prestigious awards and recognition. The 2016 awards are open already – details at www.ContactCenterWorld.com/worldawards
About the Top Ranking Performers Conferences
The annual Top Ranking Performer Conference was co-established in 2006 to run alongside the Top Ranking Performer Awards and is the most recommended industry conference in the contact center World. Delegates from all over the world attend and hear best practices shared by those who run centers. 4 events are run annually – one in Asia Pacific, one in Europe and 2 in North America – details at www.ContactCenterWorld.com/conferences
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About Michael Hasler:
As Blue Ocean’s Vice-President, Sales and Marketing, Mike Hasler has responsibility for our corporate brand and accountability for strategic growth from both new and existing clients. Mike’s experience provides him with understanding of the contact center industry from both the client-side and the perspective of solution-provider. Mike’s over-riding philosophy is that sustainable, successful partnerships begin with asking smart questions and truly listening to the answers. Mike applies discipline and vision to the process of building successful, lasting business relationships.
About Blue Ocean Contact Centers:
At Blue Ocean Contact Centers, we’re at the front lines of customer service. We know we play a key role in building brand loyalty for your organization, and we recognize how essential it is to deliver truly comprehensive customer support across all channels. If you need customized, high-quality customer experience solutions for mission-critical customers, you’re in the right place. We have an unwavering commitment to seamless customer service and efficient resolution. At Blue Ocean Contact Centers, our agents become your agents.
Published: Friday, December 25, 2015