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Article : Which Comes First: The Contact Center Site Visit or the RFP?

#contactcenterworld, @BlueOceanTweets

Would you buy a house without first walking through it? Even fully armed with an exhaustive list of property details, features, and listing information, would you really be comfortable forking over your hard-saved down payment and signing on the mortgage without at least taking a tour? Unless you’re a daring risk-taker, the answer is probably not. You need tangible reassurance that your new home will be the best fit (and won’t end up costing you more than it’s worth.)

The same must be said when you’re looking to build a strategic partnership with a new contact center outsourcer. Before you sign that contract, due diligence is required to make sure it’s the right fit. The contact center RFP is essential, of course, but the contact center site visit is invaluable. The question is, which comes first? The RFP or the site visit?

The Contact Center RFP Process

The RFP is all about discovery, scoping out exactly what functionalities, capabilities and infrastructure you require a partner to fulfill. It will tell you almost everything you need to know, from the experience of the account managers on your project to the training processes of the frontline agents to the intricacies of the technical solution. The RFP process helps you shortlist the number of outsourcers you’re willing to consider.

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But the RFP falls short in two places.

First, as valuable as it is at describing all the objective features of the program, it is pretty much entirely useless at telling you much about the culture and environment of the outsourcer. Even if you include questions asking about those very details, no answer can truly capture the intangible nature and personality of a dynamic work environment. And that work environment is what nurtures and supports the frontline agents as they interact directly with your customers. Ensuring that a partner’s culture and environment is a fit with your program requires a site visit.

Secondly, the contact center RFP timeline is by necessity a time-consuming process. Estimates of 4-6 weeks may seem generous but are rarely long enough. The worst part is that you have no guarantee that your short list at the end of the RFP process will even include partners whose environment is the right fit. A real estate listing might tell you the square footage, number of rooms, and age of the house, but it won’t reveal the "character" of the house, how its layout feels, or the integrity of the foundation like a tour and inspection will. Likewise, an RFP can be just as shortsighted, leaving you with a couple of shortlisted options that may not fit the bill once you finally get around to visiting them. And that would put you back at square one.

The Contact Center Site Visit

Time is money. The potential for set-backs in the RFP process is enough to reveal the true value of the contact center site visit. It might even be enough to prove it should happen first. Once you’re certain that the intangible features of a contact center have been met, the RFP process becomes much more certain and effective. Here’s what you should be looking for:

  1. A true contact center partner is seeking a mutually beneficial relationship with their client. That means they’re going to want your insight and collaboration regarding the agenda of your site visit. Is this a team you can envision collaborating with on a daily basis? Are they demonstrating trust and transparency, encouraging their employees to interact openly with you? If, instead, management is controlling, using your visit as just another opportunity to pitch the sale, be warned that you may not be getting the whole story.

  2. A Friendly Atmosphere. Remember, these people will be taking care of your customers. If the atmosphere is anything but hospitable, can you expect a positive customer experience? Look for friendliness and warmth not only in conversations but also in body language – and across all levels of employee, from agents through to management. Tension or disengagement are warning signs that this may not be the right fit.

  3. A Nurturing Environment. Being a contact center agent can be tough. These are the people dealing with complaints, unhappy or frustrated customers, and nonstop phone calls. A contact center partner needs to help their agents from burning out and becoming disengaged. A nurturing physical environment is most definitely part of that; it’s the difference between working in a drab builder-beige cube farm or windowless-dungeon and working in an engaging workspace with loads of natural light and attention to the small details of design. Ask yourself the question: can you picture yourself working there? If you answer yes, that’s a good indicator that your company and the contact center are probably culturally aligned.

When it comes down to it, the decision-making question in choosing a contact center partner is, "can you work with these people?" If there’s close cultural alignment between your teams and your environments, then the answer is almost certainly, "yes." But ascertaining that alignment is only possible through an in-real-life site visit. Once you have a handful of yeses on your hands from a small number of outsourcers, it will likely speed up the RFP process and decision-making.

But what about the expense? The expense of site visits is probably the number one objection to scheduling them before the RFP process. In all honesty, we’re not denying that conducting a number of site visits can get costly when you figure in travel and accommodations, not to mention the time of whomever is visiting. However, those costs are a small drop in the bucket compared to the investment you’re making in a new contact center partner. When you’re trusting "strangers" with the intimate and ongoing relationship with your customers, that initial cost of a site visit is inconsequential compared to what you’re willing to invest to ensure the greatest customer experience. Finally, wouldn’t you rather dismiss the bad fits first rather than risk they make it to your RFP shortlist in the place of worthier opponents?

Partnering with a Contact Center Outsourcer

At the end of the day, finding the best-fit partner for your outsourced contact center is paramount to success. How you go about finding that best fit will be a unique process that reflects the nuances and individual requirements of your organization. However, the site visit is invariably the piece of the puzzle that ensures cultural alignment, the foundation to your partnership.

#contactcenterworld, @BlueOceanTweets

About Amy Bennet:
In her current role as Director, Communications for Blue Ocean, Amy oversees external marketing and sales communications as well as internal communications for the 600-person contact center. In that role, Amy continues to push marketing strategies and activities to new levels, creating attraction and consideration for Blue Ocean in the global contact center market. She plays an integral role in keeping the multi-generational workforce engaged and informed while contributing to the organization’s cool culture.

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 - Assisted Transfers

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

Published: Monday, July 31, 2017

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2021 Buyers Guide Automation


Agara is an autonomous virtual voice agent powered by Real-time Voice AI. It is designed to have intelligent conversations with your customers, vendors, and partners without any assistance from human agents. It can handle a wide variety of calls including inbound customer care calls, outbound lead generation calls, appointment scheduling calls, and overdue payment recovery calls.

Agara is available for several industries including banking, insurance, retail, e-commerce, airlines, and telecom. Powered by advanced Real-time Voice AI that understands speech in real-time, automatically determines the right process to follow and guides the caller along in the process with natural conversation.


EVA Voice Biometrics
Powered by Auraya's patented ArmorVox engine, EVA is a voice biometric extension that provides secure and seamless identification & verification capabilities for Amazon Connect. EVA provides delightful customer experience by removing the friction of providing PINs, passwords or secret information in order to prove caller identity. EVA comes standard with active and passive modes and a simple yet powerful agent interface. This allows for personalised self-service and a more friendly and efficient experience when interacting with an agent.

Outdated security methods such as PINs, passwords and security questions have become insecure and unreliable. Forgetting passwords and security answers o...
(read more)

Call Adapt

Soundboard Software
Call Adapt is a cloud-based digital soundboard application designed for contact centers. It works with any type of call and integrates with your existing dialer system. Powered by smart audio technology, Call Adapt gives your agents the ability to converse with customers in real time using programmed keyboard shortcuts. The result is perfect pitch delivery and less time spent on repetitive tasks.

Consilium Software

Consilium UniCloud™
UniCloud™ is an intuitive platform that allows Enterprises to deploy and manage their Unified Communication (UC) and Contact Center (CC) services with ease and entire provisioning can be completed in seconds using this comprehensive tool supporting digital transformation. The latest release 7.0 of UniCloud™ is a multi-tenant platform that transforms the delivery, management, and integration of collaboration and contact center solutions, for both Cloud and On-Premise deployment models.
With its single-pane-of-glass views and quick provisioning tool, UniCloud™ is instrumental in reducing the time to provision an entire multi-cluster Cisco collaboration platform, including contact centers (C...
(read more)

eGain Corporation

eGain Solve
Proven, Easy, and Guided Journey to Automate Customer Engagement in a Digital+AI World


Automated Language Testing
Emmersion offers automated assessments to quickly and accurately test speaking, writing, and grammar fluency in 9 languages and counting. We help contact centers improve CSAT scores by screening for top talent and retaining top performers.

OpsTel Services

The SPEED solution solves for service level issues while cost optimizing the environment with automation.

Provides an enhanced way to speed up & optimize invoking temporary agent skills configuration changes into the contact center environment.

Speed allows you to schedule both future changes & temporary changes that auto-revert back to the original state when scheduled time expires.

Speed features:

*Automated / Scheduled Temporary Agent Skills Configuration Management
*Immediate Temporary or Reoccurring Schedule Skills Configuration Changes
*Easy to Use/Operations Administration Focused
*Descriptive Monitoring Activity Dashboard
*Detailed “End to End’ Audit Trail and Perfor...
(read more)

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