SOCAP International

Best Practices for an RFP

Here are some key steps for identifying the right fit for a contact center partnership.

There comes a point when most customer care professional will be faced with the request for proposal process. Here are some helpful tips on the RFP process, as recommended by a major manufacturer that was looking for a new contact center service provider. The full RFP process document can be found here.

Developing the RFP

  • Understand why the change is being considered. Be sure that areas for improvement are sufficiently addressed in the RFP.
  • Engage the enterprise in the RFP creation process. Assemble a comprehensive, multidisciplinary team with representatives from all relevant divisions and departments.
  • Seek meaningful insights into contact center provider mission, vision, culture and operations.
  • Decide whether to include penalties if key performance indicators are not met.

Soliciting Bids

  • Understand the provider landscape. Do the research necessary to identify leading and emerging contact center companies.
  • Vertical industry and special purpose websites and related information services may facilitate getting the RFP to companies not otherwise identified in research.
  • Determine the importance of proximity.
  • Leverage SOCAP and its network of business partners for distributing RFPs and identifying top contact center providers.

 Assessing Bidder Responses

  • Key performance indicators (KPIs) provide a “first blush” view of a provider’s capabilities, but not every client workload is the same in terms of difficulty or amount of support needed.
  • Assess the bidder’s approach to system security and how well personally identifiable information is protected.
  • Consider whether the bidder is making sophisticated use of social media and integrating it into customer contact channels.
  • Once noncompetitive bidders have been eliminated, consider asking finalists to prepare a detailed presentation responding to a real-world business scenario you provide
  • Analyze finalists’ offers using SWOT techniques or other approaches to determine relative strengths and weaknesses of competing offers.

Transitioning Operations

  • Anticipate bumps in the road. Allow a generous cut-over period for the new provider to take responsibility for handling 100 percent of operations.
  • Develop a plan that keeps the out-going contact center provider engaged until the newcomer is up to speed. Financial incentives can keep departing personnel motivated.
  • Expect overly optimistic performance assurances from the newcomer. KPIs may decline in the early going as provider personnel come up to speed.

Other Lessons Learned

Plan to rebid the contact center contract every three to five years. Doing so keeps the incumbent competitive and fosters continual process improvement for contact center operations. Retain old RFPs and use as templates for re-competitions.

Do you have useful tips, best practices or lessons learned that you can share about the RFP process? We’d love to hear from you. Send your ideas to CRM Magazine at socap@socap.org.