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Looking to replace or review your contact centre technology or telephony environment?  Here are some snappy tips to set you on your way.

Understand your business requirements

Most companies look at the capabilities of their current technology and operational processes, and use this as the basis for their business requirements. This approach inevitably leads to a sub-optimal solution because there’s so much more functionality available today that a business could benefit from – and may not even know exists.

A better approach is to go back to basics, understand your actual needs and wishes in business terms, then look for a solution to meet those needs.

Specify your needs clearly and in detail

Most vendors offer the same “baseline functionality” (call recording, voice mail, queueing, routing etc).  The real difference is in the detail, pricing and the value adds. 

Write your requirements in detail – what you do as well as what you don’t need – but in unambiguous language that a vendor will clearly understand. Going to a more granular level at this stage will make shortlisting easier.

Know who can meet your needs

Once you understand your real business needs, there are two ways to approach the market.  An open tender invites responses from any and all vendors that believe they can meet most of your needs. You are likely to get a large number of responses (particularly if the requirements are specified at a high level), and it will take a long time to evaluate them.

A closed tender restricts the respondents to a small number (say, three to five) that should be able to best meet your needs. You select the vendors to respond but, unless you have a good understanding of the market, there’s a real danger that the tender will just go to the “household names” – whereas the optimal solution may be one of the newer players. This is particularly true in the cloud or hosted space where there are a variety of excellent international vendors that have entered the Australian market relatively recently.  Using an online service such as Matchboard can provide invaluable assistance with the high level shortlisting phase.

Objectively evaluate the responses

To effectively shortlist at the next level, you need a methodology that objectively evaluates the responses, and takes the relative importance of each requirement into consideration. Remember, many unsuccessful vendors will request feedback as to why they were not selected and an objective assessment method will assist in providing this feedback, and provide input into any business case or board paper that may be required.

Include a demo and presentation

A hands-on demonstration and presentation of the shortlisted solutions allows you to evaluate how the solution will meet your needs, and how easy the solution is to use. It will also allow a more subjective assessment of the vendor and their staff, ensuring there is a good cultural fit for your organisation.  Remember – the technology will last for many years, so this is a long-term relationship you are entering into.  Also critical to evaluate is not just the technology, but the level of support and service you will receive when there are issues – which there inevitably will be in any implementation and ongoing BAU.  

An independent external advisor can be highly beneficial in this phase, to validate some of the vendor’s claims as well as provide intelligence on market feedback, commercials and past performance. Most businesses are able to evaluate and select a suitable technology solution for their contact centre, however engaging an experienced, independent third party can significantly shorten the process and lead to a better outcome with more business benefits.

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