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Choosing a new contact center vendor to partner with isn’t always an easy decision. It’s an exciting time for your organization – but the stakes are high. Emerging technologies like omnichannel, artificial intelligence (AI) and workforce engagement management (WEM) strengthen your ability to delight customers, engage employees and exceed business goals.
A first step many companies take in the process is to create a Request for Proposal (RFP) for contact center software. To simplify it, here are 7 tips to get the best and most critical information from a vendor so you know you’re choosing the right partner.
1. Decide if an RFP is the right tool for the job.
The RFP process is often triggered by companies when an existing supplier isn’t meeting your needs now or you need to validate your vendor’s abilities to support your future strategy — and you want to see your options. A formal RFP will specify your business and technical requirements — and then compare the most important vendor capabilities so you can identify and select the best products or services.
The RFP process is a complex undertaking, so don’t initiate it too often or rely on it exclusively as a sales tool. For example, an RFP isn’t necessary for simple questions that can be answered in a sales meeting. In these cases, an RFP could work against you, deterring prospective bidders who feel it’s not worth the time or resources.
2. Introduce yourself.
Every RFP should start with general information about your organization before describing your current technological state, the customer service challenges you’re facing and your desired end goal. Include information about timelines and milestones, existing commitments to vendors and any other teams that engage with customers, such as marketing and sales.
The more you share, the better view the vendor will have of your customer experience (CX) ecosystem. And that will result in better answers so you can make the best business decision about your call center software purchase.
3. Research contact center vendors.
A vendor is a long-term partner; you don’t want to jump into that relationship without some background information. Consider the company’s history, its technology partner network and its roadmap for the future. For example, if you do business abroad, does the vendor have global relationships? Unexpected delays can occur if they don’t have local partners to navigate certain telecom and regulatory environments.
While there might be opportunities for future negotiations, it’s better to get licensing, pricing and terms up front. A reputable vendor can help manage your migration to the contact center software, so ask about the support it offers during and after your transition.
4. Understand your core requirements versus the company’s core technology.
Not all cloud contact center software is the same, so thoroughly investigate the core technology of any provider. Cloud-native platforms provide flexibility, scalability and agility to expand with your business. This includes being able to keep up with consumer changes, market shifts, tech innovations and changes in business strategy. Ask if vendors can help you build a business case to measure your total cost of ownership or ROI so you can plan, prioritize and achieve your specific business outcomes with the new contact center software.
Cloud systems should also give you API access to easily connect to marketplace apps and access any of your data for use in other internal systems, business intelligence or customer data platforms. Look for an all-in-one platform that’s extensible, offers continuous innovation delivery, meets security and privacy standards, and is accessible through a single interface.
5. Consider omnichannel and journey management.
Cloud solutions use journey management for a consistent, seamless and personalized omnichannel customer experience, which means you must be able to access multiple data sources. This omnichannel approach helps you predict the next-best actions and then route those customers to the best-available resource.
You can’t fully manage journeys without easy access to real-time insights. Increased pipeline velocity, abandon rates, established KPIs and time-to-resolution are just a few data points you’ll want to measure in contact center software.
6. Consider your RFP and workforce engagement management needs jointly.
Improving CX starts with prioritizing employee engagement. A cloud contact center software with proper WEM capabilities creates an employee-centric organization, simplifies operations and improves performance.
When thinking about WEM capabilities, you’ll need tools to streamline operations, including workforce planning, scheduling and forecasting, and capacity modeling for cost prediction. Keep quality assurance and compliance simple with tools for interaction and screen recording, Voice of the Customer, and speech and text analytics. Finally, make employee performance central with gamification tools, and deploy learning, training, feedback and recognition capabilities.
7. Choose a secure, trustworthy and compliant solution.
In a world of data breaches and identify theft, never overlook trust and security. Products and services should be continually re-certified and re-registered and in compliance with the laws and regulations where you do business.
When evaluating contact center software, consider the vendor’s change management practices. Strict policies, including built-in safeguards that limit access to your data stored in content repositories, should protect against internal threats. Vendors should also continually test and review code using a variety of tools and vulnerability assessments that ensure the appropriate and up-to-date fixes are in place to maintain a high security posture.
Critical Decisions Require Critical Thinking
Modern CX systems are increasingly powerful with applications, connections and developer resources that yield new competitive benefits. Choosing to level up your contact center software is an easy decision. But knowing which provider to partner with requires more evaluation.
Many vendors have viable solutions, so it’s important to determine which ones meet your unique needs. Using an RFP simplifies the process, standardizes your vendor comparison process and positions you to make the best-informed decision.
Once you’re ready to begin your RFP for call center software, download our RFP practical guide.
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