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Evaluating Contact Center Vendors Is Not Apples to Apples

The specifications and requirements included in a contact center RFP are often driven by the customer service executives with input from third parties and research. If the project is to support a new product or service launch or the project is based on the shortcomings experienced with an incumbent vendor, the opportunity may not be realized to the full potential for your company.
Procurement professionals are involved in evaluating and negotiating contracts on a daily basis. You know how fast things change. New developments in technology and processes, changing customer and industry trends…the list goes on. Your ability to uncover further opportunities and best-case outcomes during the vendor evaluation process can be a differentiator for your company.

Meeting the Specifications is the Minimum

All RFPs ask the vendors to provide a comprehensive view of their business capabilities and capacities and to explain why they’re different from their competitors. Every vendor will showcase their best successes and downplay their weaknesses. But if you’re only looking to meet the specifications, you’re leaving a lot of details open to interpretation that can bring misunderstanding to the future business relationship.
Your customers are the most important asset your company possesses. Looking only at the basics of being able to handle subscriber call volume or provide the appropriate staffing level does not ensure that the experience they provide to your customers will go beyond acceptable. And, in today’s marketplace, acceptable is merely table stakes.

Embark on Relevant Expertise Discovery

The vendor you select should be able to provide insights to your business. What do they know about your company? Have they done their due diligence to understand your company’s position in the marketplace and where your competitive advantages lie? What do they know about the industry as a whole, where it’s going and the issues it may face moving into the future? Most importantly, what can they tell you about customers like yours?
Just because vendors can point to other companies that they service successfully or produce good references for work provided doesn’t mean they are delivering beyond the minimum requirements of their contracts. Your business has growth plans. You want vendors that have the agility and expertise to evolve along with your business. But for your contact center, you also want vendors that will bring strategy and partnership, not simply a company that “fills the order.”

What Does the Future Hold?

Business viability is an important consideration when selecting a vendor. You want to know that they’ll be around for at least the duration of the contract. But, more importantly, you want to hire a vendor that has a roadmap or strategy for how they’ll grow their own business, not just yours. The usual process for gauging sustainability is to evaluate the percentage of their business that will be provided by your contract.
The thought process is that the lower the percentage of the vendor’s overall business is provided by your company, the better they will be able to sustain future business due to a minimal reliance on your contract as a source of revenues. That’s a faulty perception. For, without a plan for future growth, a continuous investment in research and development that will bring innovations for the products or services they provide, or an ability to sustain margins, the vendor you select could be on shaky ground. The vendor you’re evaluating should be able to paint this picture.

Apples are for Apple Pie

Obviously, carefully evaluating contact center vendors takes a good deal of effort. But with more executive boards relying on procurement as a source of strategic advantage, looking beyond the expected will pay off in better vendor relationships and higher contributions to business objectives. Leave the apples for the apple pie.