Home // Blog

Use the RFP to Challenge Contact Center Vendors

Requests for proposals (RFP) have been the foundation of procurement processes for decades. The assumption has been that vendor responses to the same set of requirements will allow a more balanced evaluation and selection process. RFPs also instill a sort of security by helping the communication service provider (CSP) feel assured that little is left to chance.

If this is true, you’re not challenging your prospective contact center vendors enough to find the true differentiators that can result in the best choice.

Here are a few reasons to encourage contact center vendors to color outside the lines:

  • Your company may not be up to speed on the latest process innovations in service delivery
  • A vendor that gives you exactly what you ask for is giving you a preview of the lack of new ideas they may be bring to the relationship
  • “The way you’ve always done it” may not be providing the optimal type of service delivery to meet business objectives
  • Your customers are continuously changing which means your requirements could be obsolete by the time the vendor selected is put in place
  • Rather than designing an RFP solely to collect information about whether or not a vendor can meet specific requirements, consider adding a few sections that probe for strategic capabilities and foresight about the future.

A few examples:

  • Ask the vendor to describe an operational implementation where their team encountered an unexpected challenge and for an explanation about how it was resolved during the ramp up.
  • CSPs must not only retain customers, but expand share of wallet. Ask the vendor how they plan to train and empower agents to achieve high performance in these areas.
  • CSPs have a tremendous volume of data about their customers. Ask the vendor how they will actively use the data to improve the customer service experience.
  • Ask the vendor what they think is the biggest change coming for the industry and how they will prepare to address it.
  • Asking open-ended questions that invite strategic thinking and the sharing of expertise can yield insights beyond the requirements and specifications your team chose to include in the RFP. The future is no longer three-to-five years down the road. It’s tomorrow, next week or next month. Selecting a vendor based on what you know you need today may not help you identify the vendor who is the most agile or the one with the most inherent flexibility in processes and workflows to make adjustments as the industry changes.

The Internet of Things will introduce new potential for subscribers, as will mobile broadband. Extending network value by creating cloud computing services for subscribers can also shift business models and create new revenue streams. The home network offers new opportunities for the creation of on-demand and online products and services that will cater to changing tastes in how subscribers consume entertainment, secure their homes, manage power and replace what’s in their refrigerators.

As these changes become mainstream, CSPs have unique opportunities to provide and support new service delivery to customers. The contact vendor you select should be able to demonstrate their capacity for helping your company to evolve the customer experience as it brings these next-generation services to market.

By using the RFP to challenge contact center vendors, you’ll find that vendors with vision can smooth the procurement process by addressing stated needs and helping you to envision where the future lies. Vendors that know how to play the game and know when to step up to make suggestions that add to the process, rather than put obstacles in the way, will help your customers to make the transition to adopting future services more easily.