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Selecting The Contact Center Cloud Vendor That is Right For Your Organization

Theresa Tisdale, VP Contact Center Operations, Equity Lifestyle Properties
Theresa Tisdale, VP Contact Center Operations, Equity Lifestyle Properties

Theresa Tisdale, VP Contact Center Operations, Equity Lifestyle Properties

With 60 percent of contact center servicing migrating or planning to migrate to a cloud-based environment, it is not surprising when your organization wants to move in the cloud direction.

It is both exciting and daunting. Your organization is open to investing in a cloud platform, but it is daunting as you realize you are not sure where to start. You have heard many good things, and probably some horror stories about migration, and the purpose of this article is to help.

Take your time. The migration and integration will be painful, and you want to be sure you select the solution that will deliver the organizations long term goals.

1. Gather a cross-functional team to help broaden your perspective. Regardless if the contact center is the business or supports the key business, cross-functional support and input is necessary to ensure project success!

- IT – key partners with APIs to prem based technology and the new platform

- Telecom – key savings in 800# per minute rates, routing and skill setups

- HR- people and change management

- Finance – funding, ROI, capital and expense planning

- Accounting – timing on-prem based contracts and new spend

- Operations – end users will need to be comfortable with the ease of use and functionality

- Brand – what will the new customer experience be?

- Website – chat, customer-facing knowledge base

- Marketing – how can your organization leverage the new tools

- CRM – integration into the cloud technology to gather customer touchpoints

- Reporting and Analytics – ensure export, integration, and migration of data

  ​Be sure to have your internal resources ready for kickoff and that the finances are in place for the project to go live   

2. Gather information on your existing premise-based solutions from the cross-functional team.

- What do you like?

- What are the existing contractual obligations?

- Are you at the end of life?

- What is the cost of doing an upgrade to the premise-based solution?

- What services do you not offer but would like to offer?

3. Do your homework. There are a lot of articles out there by prominent survey firms that will help you begin the search but look deeper. What is right for the most may not be right for all.

- Read user reviews of the potential vendors

- What are the SLA’s for service and response time

- What is the uptime

- What new positions do you need to create in your organization to care for this new technology?

- Is the training offered onsite or web-based

- How long does it take to stand up the platform

4. Can you migrate to 100% cloud? If you are in a position to do this, it may be easier for you long term. All integration points interconnected. It sounds like a dream come true!

- Will you need to take multiple steps while the ROI (return on investment) on your current premise-based platform has been completed?

- Will the disruption to the business be too great to migrate all contact center channels at one time?

- Can the prem-based systems connect to the cloud via APIs?

- What single component is the most important to your business?

o Do you have a premise-based Work Force Management tool that you want to retain?

o What are the vendors’ capabilities with connecting to that platform?

o What products does the vendor offer that may allow you to replace that key technology in the future?

5. Narrow the vendor selection

- Where do you think you will land?

o Full cloud for all contact center channels and interactions

o Partial cloud partial premise-based solutions

- Customer feedback reviews

6. Design RFP with Cross-Functional Team

- Have a high-level design of the RFP prior to bringing the vendors on site. This will allow the cross-functional team to be aligned on what they are seeing and looking for in the demonstrations

- Items that you may include in your RFP

o Functional Requirements

o ACD Capabilities

o IVR

o Visual IVR

o Dialer

o Chat

o Email

o SMS

o Quality Management/ Optimization

o Workforce Management

o Integration/ APIs

o Customer Surveys

o Applications – Agent, Supervisor, Administrator

o Reporting and Dashboards – standard and custom

o Data Centers

o Telecom and Data Infrastructure

o Service Availability and Disaster Recovery

o Desktop computer requirements

o Softphone

o Security policy and procedures

o Intrusion detection

o Project management

o Training

o Documentation

o Support

o Pricing

o Labor rates for out of scope work

7. Vendor demonstrations

- Once you have narrowed down your selection invite in the vendors that are at the top of your list

- Bring the cross-functional team together for demonstrations

8. Select top 3 vendors to send Request for Proposal

- Provide a deadline on when you expect to have the proposal returned

- Once received ensure that you review the RFPs with an attention to detail looking for items that will call out potential costs that are not included in the monthly subscription fee. Some examples could be:

o Cost per minute on 800#s

o Storage fees for #800 #s – these can range from $1 to $10 per phone number per month

o Costs for detailed integrations like IVR workflow when payment is passed to a payment gateway

o Two-way text set up

9. High-level overviews with a larger cross-functional team

- Create a deeper dive vendor discussion with an expanded cross-functional team for the following areas:

o IT – the team will want to discuss integration, storage, security, PCI, PII, response times, data exports

o Telecom – prem-based versus cloud, phone number transitions, non-contact center agent (back office) phone numbers, faxes, billing

o CRM – capabilities, view, and options

o Operations – end user views, reporting, access, access levels, set up, training, chat, knowledge system, service levels, business user versus vendor actions, quality monitoring, dashboards,

o IVR – workflow, payment gateway into legacy systems, ease of design, PII and PCI

o Workforce Management – omnichannel forecasting, staffing, real-time, quality management, shift bids, shift trades

o Data and Reporting- omnichannel reporting, data export, migration, dashboards, speech analytics

10. Make the decision

- Once you have received the RFPs back with the pricing and all the deep dive vendor reviews have been completed, it is time to make the decision. Create a rating based on:

o Installation costs (one-time costs)

o Subscription costs (normally billed monthly per user/ per phone number)

o 800# cost per minute fee if the vendor takes over from your current service provider

o Ease of use within your environment

o Need to have components (WFM solution, replace PBX, call back assist, text, chat)

o Nice to have

The timing on when the project should begin and the end will be discussed at this point. Be sure to have your internal resources ready for kickoff and that the finances are in place for the project to go live!

My journey down this path has been a true learning of the industry that I have been in for 20 years! I hope you found this helpful and enjoy your own journey!

Check Out: Top Cloud Consulting/Services Companies

See Also:

Top Contact Center Technology Solution Companies

Top Contact Center Technology Consulting/Service Companies

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