How to Create the Perfect RFP for a Contact Center as a Service Software

Pick the ideal CCaaS partner for smoother customer service operations in your contact center.

Blog PostsCloud Contact Center Software
schedule14 minute read

We’ve created this guide to help you find the perfect Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS) software. When you have Request For Information (RFI) and Request For Proposal (RFP) process requirements, it can be challenging getting started.

The following article guides you through the main information categories needed to ask the right questions when picking your CCaaS provider. Under each category, we’ve listed examples of typical questions and requests we’ve received at LeadDesk as a CCaaS provider for large enterprises, governmental and non-government organisations. Please keep in mind that your final RFP should naturally reflect the needs of your organisation, and this is a general guide.

If you need specific advice putting together an RFP for your organisation, feel free to reach out to someone at our local offices, and we can lend you our expertise.

Table of Contents

Skip to the section you’re most interested in: Why Create an RFP? | What to Include and Ask for in a CCaaS RFP | Summary

Why Create an RFP?

Skip to: The difference between a RFP, RFI, and RFQ | What are the benefits of an RFP?

Your business is growing. You need to find the perfect contact center software to manage your customer service operations. Or, it’s time to renew your contract with an existing supplier and you want to see your options.

Choosing the right CCaaS provider is a big decision. There is a lot to consider: technical features, cyber security, the vendor company’s background, pricing… How do you know the right questions to ask?

An RFP (request for proposal) is a document for your organisation to outline the requirements for a specific product, project, or service. The RFP process helps you evaluate offers from vendors and identify the vendor best qualified to complete the project.

Whether you work in the private or the public sector, an RFP is the smartest starting point for business-critical purchases such as CCaaS software. A carefully drafted RFP helps you consider all factors and reduces the risk of a bad match with your software provider.

The difference between a RFP, RFI, and RFQ

RFI = Request for information

An RFI is a preliminary document to be used when you don’t fully understand the marketplace you are entering. If you are about to purchase a CCaaS software and have no prior experience with one, an RFI is a good way to gain a wider understanding of the range of options in the CCaaS field.

RFP = Request for proposal

An RFP is a document that you use to ask vendors to propose solutions to your problems or business requirements. An RFP usually follows an RFI – typically, you would not go straight from an RFI to an RFQ. An RFP should be a lot more specific about your needs. You have to outline your business goals and identify specific requirements that are necessary for the CCaaS solution you are searching for. You need enough detail so the vendors can propose a valid solution. Still, it should be open enough for the candidates to be creative and innovative with their proposals.

RFQ = Request for quotation

An RFQ is an even more detailed document, where you handle the exact specifications you require for your CCaaS software. When you’re familiar with the software you are currently using and know exactly why you want a new one and what you expect of the new provider, use an RFQ.

While the RFP allows the vendors to suggest solutions to the problem flexibly, an RFQ is used when there isn’t much room for creativity, but rather when you want the vendor to deploy the software using predetermined specifications. In an RFQ, you typically list each requirement, asking the vendors to assess their ability to meet them.

What are the benefits of an RFP?

The RFP process lets the vendor candidates respond to you in a structured way. It also makes it a lot easier for you
to compare the most important vendor capabilities. The structure allows for weighted scoring based on different priorities. It ensures that the criteria is based on your business needs.

The RFP process helps you clarify what matters the most: the vendor’s cost estimate, their skill set, references, etc. A good RFP will land you comparable data from different vendors to help you assess their readiness. It also lets you minimise biases and form your decision on sound facts.

A data-driven approach lets you ask specific questions about supplier capabilities, certifications, pricing plans and more. You can ask candidates to suggest solutions to a specific problem.

Don’t use an RFP too often

Responding to an RFP requires time and resources from the vendor candidates. Therefore it’s important to recognise the situations when an RFP process is too complex. For example, if you only need answers to simple questions – book a sales meeting.

In some cases, mostly in the public sector, RFPs are always required in the process of making big purchases. In this situation, make sure to keep your questions focused.

What to Include and Ask for in a CCaaS RFP

Skip to: Provide Background Information About Your Organisation | Tell About Scope, Budget, and Schedule | Ask for Background Information From Potential Service Providers | Essential Requirements of the CCaaS Solution | Omnichannel and Customer Journey Features and Capabilities | Workforce Engagement Features and Capabilities | Cyber Security: How Serious Are They? | What Does the Vendor’s System Implementation, Training, and Support Look Like? | People and Services: Find Out What You Get After Signing the Contract | Ask for Customer References

We’ve compiled a simple list below of the common things you should ask for in a CCaaS RFP. While there may be other things more specific for your organisation to think of, this is a fairly comprehensive first start.

Give Background Information About Your Organisation

Start by introducing yourself! Provide the vendor candidates with basic information about your organisation. The more you share, the better the results, as then vendors can evaluate whether their software matches your needs.

Include at least the following in your company overview:

  • Business strategy and long-term business goals
  • A description of the industry your organisation operates in
  • The size and the geographical reach of your organisation
  • A brief history of your organisation
  • Who and when to contact for more information

 

Tell About Scope, Budget, and Schedule

This information is essential for the vendor. It provides the framework for your RFP and helps the vendors understand your situation—the better their understanding, the more precise proposals you will receive.

Make sure to include the following:

  • The system/service you are currently using (if any)
  • The main challenges you need help with
  • Your goals, expectations, and desired results
  • Overall budget
  • A schedule for the process with the desired deadline and some essential milestone dates
  • A deadline and guidelines for submitting the proposals

 

Ask for Background Information From Potential Service Providers

So far, you’ve been describing your own business and your future needs. Now, it’s time to ask everything you want to know about the potential vendor company.

While their technological solutions play the lead part, remember that since you’re probably looking for a long-term partnership, it’s good to dig deeper than the surface to find a reliable partner.

Ask the companies to walk you through their:

  • Overview: the company’s history, strategy, and goals
    • Differentiating factors vs. competitors
    • Locations they operate in
    • Management, organisation, and ownership
  • Financials: evidence of stability
  • R&D capabilities and investments
    • Share of revenue committed to R&D
  • Licensing and terms of use
    • Pricing model and potential for negotiation
    • Billing transparency: how is service usage defined and calculated?
    • Data ownership and retrieval after contract termination

 

Essential Requirements of the CCaaS Solution

This is where you start asking for the concrete details of the CCaaS system. The essential requirements category helps you understand how the system is built and maintained. To simplify data management and reporting, look for a one-stop platform that provides the needed features and integrates with your existing IT infrastructure.

It’s essential to review the list of demands according to the needs of your customer service operation and your IT policies. If, for example, data needs to be stored in a specific country, specify it in the RFP.

You should find out at least these points:

  • Overview of the technical architecture
    • Capacity to handle the number of agents you have
    • Underlying cloud infrastructure and data storage location(s)
    • Integration overview and capabilities: descriptions of ready-made integrations. functionalities of customisable APIs, flexibility for new integrations
    • Uptimes and performance against SLAs, including real-time service status
    • Support for multiple telco options
    • Roadmap for future development
  • Overview of admin capabilities and user interfaces
    • Tools and customisation available for admin users
    • Single sign-on
    • Description of admin and agent user interfaces
    • Support for remote users
  • Available reporting and monitoring tools
    • List of standard reports and the metrics or KPIs tracked
    • Description of how customised reports can be created
    • Capabilities for extracting data to external data warehouse
    • Dashboard and real-time monitoring capabilities and customisation
  • System maintenance processes and benchmarks
    • Testing processes and deployment of updates
  • System requirements for desktop and or mobile users
  • Quality management protocols
    • Load testing

 

Omnichannel and Customer Journey Features and Capabilities

Today’s customers expect to be able to contact a business
in whichever channel they prefer: calls, SMS, email, chat, WhatsApp, Messenger, etc. The CCaaS system should enable agents to respond to customers in the channel best suited
for the customer’s unique situation. Agents should be able to quickly see past communication with the customer to provide excellent service in every future conversation.

The best CCaaS systems adapt to your operation – not the other way around. You should be able to customise the customer journeys to match the needs of your business and agents.

Define the features and capabilities you need and make sure the system can cater to them, with questions such as:

  • What is the vendor’s approach to guaranteeing the best possible service in any customer situation?
    • How do you ensure a smooth user journey – for the agent and the customer alike?
  • What are the available automation and AI capabilities?
  • Which inbound channels does the CCaaS software support?
    • Do the channels work together natively to enable omnichannel service?
    • How can new channels be integrated into the system?
    • Does the system enable blending inbound and outbound?
  • Which outbound channels does the software support?
    • Is there a callback feature?
    • Can order confirmations or post-call surveys be sent via SMS or other channels?
    • Which dialer modes can be used for outbound calling, and how do they work?
  • How are customer queues managed (IVR, advanced call and messaging distribution, etc.)?
    • Is there support for virtual agents such as chatbots?
    • Which attributes (customer value etc.) can be used to route customers?
    • Can IVRs be customised by admins, and is it possible to use speech recognition in IVRs?
  • How are customers assigned to different agents?
    • Can agent skills be used to assign customers?
    • How does the system handle routing from webchats and virtual agents to real agents?

 

Workforce Engagement Features and Capabilities

A modern CCaaS system contains workforce engagement features that improve the efficiency of your customer service operations. Features typically range from essential shift planning to advanced tools such as gamification. Finding a system that constantly gives you the data you need to improve your operations is key.

If you already have workforce engagement systems and are happy to continue using them, ensure the CCaaS system can integrate with your existing system.

Ask these questions to make sure of the most important things:

  • What kind of workforce engagement features does the system offer?
    • Do team leaders and agents have a common, integrated system for arranging work shifts, etc.?
    • Do the tools support multiple locations?
    • Is it possible for the agents to edit their work shifts in the system?
    • Are there forecasting tools to identify potential gaps?
    • How does the system support adherence to schedule?
  • What are the quality management features, and how do they ensure agent fairness?
    • Does the system support remote listening and whispering?
    • How long are calls stored, and how can the archive be searched or browsed?
    • Is speech-to-text transcription available?
  • Are all customer conversations recorded, and how can conversations be flagged for review?
  • Are there built-in tools for leading, coaching, and managing team members?
  • Does the system use gamification or other tools to provide incentives and rewards for agents?
  • Does the system have any survey or other automated data collection tools?
  • How can workforce engagement data be used to improve operations?

 

Cyber Security: How Serious Are They?

Unfortunately, contact centers are potential targets for cyber security attacks, as they handle and store customer data. Cyber security is one of the most important considerations when choosing a CCaaS solution.

We recommend only considering vendors with the relevant security certifications. These questions help determine their cyber security readiness:

  • Does the vendor have SOC 2 accreditation and ISO 27001 certification or other relevant certifications?
    • Can customers audit the solution?
    • Has the vendor carried out any other external audits or reports?
  • Does the solution meet GDPR and TCPA requirements?
    • Is customer data encrypted at rest and in motion?
    • How is the access to, storage, and use of confidential information limited?
  • Does the vendor meet payment card industry compliance demands?
  • What information security policies, procedures, and controls does the vendor have?
    • Does the solution provide enterprise-grade security?
    • What kind of user roles does the solution offer, and how is the vendor mitigating the threat of internal attacks?
  • How has the vendor ensured that their system works 24/7?
    • Is there a business continuity plan?
    • Does the vendor provide geo- redundancy?
    • Are there multiple physical servers or a single server?
    • Is there protection against DDoS attacks?
  • How is sensitive personal information safeguarded against unauthorised access?
    • What kind of cyber security monitoring is carried out?
    • What is the process for responding to security incidents?
    • Are third-party penetration tests carried out?
    • Is the vendor using a web application firewall?

 

What Does the Vendor’s System Implementation, Training, and Support Look Like?

CCaaS software is business critical for a customer service organisation. Proven experience and a systematic approach to implementation reduce the risk of project delays and guarantee business continuity.

After the solution is up and running, the focus turns to support. The vendor’s approach to customer support and customer satisfaction is vital information for the long term.

You should ask to see:

  • An estimated schedule and project plan for the implementation
    • Resources needed from your side
    • A training/onboarding plan to help agents and team leaders learn the system
    • Evaluation of potential risks and delays
  • Overview of the vendor’s customer support, including
    • Available support channels and documentation
    • Product updates and fixes
    • Service levels
    • Availability of custom training
    • Support satisfaction figures

 

People and Services: Find Out What You Get After Signing the Contract

Technology only goes so far. It’s people who make or break a successful CCaaS implementation project and provide support after implementation. Working with a team that speaks your native language typically simplifies communication.

When planning the RFP, consider the services you will need now and in the future. Some vendors offer holistic services to complement the solution, whereas others will only focus on the technology.

You should ask to see:

  • A comprehensive description of the team and their roles
    • Language skills
    • CVs of each team member
    • Point of contact
  • Scope of professional services the company offers
    • Pricing models for services

 

Ask for Customer References

Finally, customer references are often the best evidence of a vendor’s actual capabilities. You naturally want to know what kind of customers the vendor company has had before and how they have succeeded in the projects.

For any references, we recommend asking for:

  1. Total number of customers using the solution
  2. Descriptions of similar projects: background situation, the impact of the project, and resolution
  3. The reasoning for arriving at the chosen solution
  4. The key results achieved in the project
  5. Contact information to validate the references

 

Case studies are also an invaluable source of information about the vendor. Ask you vendor for relevant case studies that closely match your needs and situation. If you’d like to browse through LeadDesk’s case studies, take a look at our case studies page.

Summary

The RFP process can feel complicated. But it is worth taking the time. Outlining your expectations will help leave out vendors who can’t meet your needs. When you specify your needs in the RFP, finding the best vendor with the right resources, skills, and expertise will be much easier.

It’s not an easy job to pick the right service provider. Choosing a CCaaS solution means making a long-term contract, and the preferred partner significantly impacts your customer satisfaction and reputation.

If you would like to see how LeadDesk lines up to fulfil your contact center requirements, book a demo meeting with a CCaaS expert today.

 

About the author

Colm Ó Searcóid

Content Marketing Manager LeadDesk

Content Marketing Manager at LeadDesk. Colm has several years of experience writing about customer experience and communication solutions like AI chatbots and contact center software.