What’s driving your Contact Center RFP timeline? Is your current outsourcing contract expiring soon? Are you switching vendors? Have you reached maximum capacity with an in-house solution? As you prepare to launch an RFP process to find the right partner for your customer care program, understanding the vendor side of the process can help you engineer a timeline that will help your potential partners deliver carefully considered responses that address your specific needs. After all, you are ultimately entrusting your new partner with your most precious resource – your customers.
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In our industry, we see every variation of a Contact Center RFP timeline. It will come as no surprise that when outsourcers receive an RFP with a deadline ten days out, what they tend to submit is a “cut and paste” basic, boiler plate response. If you want a thoughtful, custom response, consider what happens on the vendor side: finance, business development, workforce management, and client services will consult and collaborate to come up with the necessary details for their response. With a manageable timeline, those functional areas will spend time crafting a solution that they believe gives them a competitive edge. This is good for you. If you have a complex customer service process, you don’t want to create a timeline too rigid, eliciting generic, vanilla answers. Also consider the time required to select your vendor, negotiate the contract, sign the deal, and implement the program to the production stage. The response requirement date must be early enough to allow ample time for these steps before the actual project begins.
It’s 2014; ask potential vendors to electronically mail you their RFP responses, this provides more time for the vendor to produce a quality response. Consider providing an option for large files to be delivered by Dropbox or YouSendIt. Determine when submissions are due and clearly state this within the RFP.
Keep in mind that a vendor’s real timetable begins once all information is available to them. An overall timeline of four weeks to distribute and collect responses from vendors is a good baseline to start with. Allow 4-5 days for vendors to come up with questions, and 3 days for your team to respond to those questions. Giving vendors more time may allow them to be more creative with their proposals, as well as allow them to customize their proposal to fit your specific needs.
Need help with the Contact Center RFP process? Check out these other RFP resources: