Selecting a vendor to work with when outsourcing your customer service program is a huge decision and entails a lot of research and consideration. A request for proposal (RFP) helps simplify the decision-making process.
An RFP is a summary of your call center needs and requirements and is used to solicit bids from potential vendors. By issuing an RFP, you help ensure vendors provide the answers and information you need to properly compare candidates and choose the best vendor for the job.
It also reduces the time spent considering glossy pitches that look great on paper but fail to truly address your needs, as well as asking for additional information that you need to make your decisions.
But for your RFP to be effective, it must be clear and ask the right questions. To help you with this task, here is an example of what you should include in your RFP to help you find the right customer service partner.
#2 - Response guidelines
The first thing you will want to include in your RFP is a description of your business and what you are looking for. This will help vendors determine whether they are a good fit for your business and help them address the information that’s most relevant to you.
Next you want to tell potential vendors how to submit responses. This includes the channel for submitting responses, such as an email, online form, paper copy, etc. If using email or hardcopy submission processes, be sure to include the contact information of the vendor’s main contact, such as their email or physical address.
In addition to this information, you will need to include a due date, any formatting requirements, what needs to be submitted and a contact for vendor questions.
You also want to explain that any failure to meet these response guidelines may result in rejection of the submission.#3 - Responsibilities and confidentiality
To ensure both you and your vendor’s business information is kept safe, you may also want to include phrasing explaining that:
- you may ask for clarification of any response;
- responses will be considered confidential and proprietary to the vendor;
- and information in the RFP is proprietary to your company and must be kept confidential.
You can also include other legal and financial stipulations in this section that will help avoid any issues in the future. An example may be that costs associated with responding to the RFP are the responsibility of the vendor and your company will not be charged in any way.#4 - Evaluation and selection
This section will explain your criteria for selecting a vendor. Generally, you’ll want to state that your criteria includes multiple factors. This can include price, qualifications, quality and anything else you deem appropriate in the situation. You can also stipulate that vendors must demonstrate their product before any final decisions are made.
You should also include phrasing that ensures your right to prioritize or adjust requirements in the best interest of your business.#5 - Vendor response
This is when you get to the good stuff. In this section, you will ask your vendors questions so that you can collect the information you need to make the best decision possible. What information you collect will depend on your specific needs, but can include:
- Vendors legal name, address, phone number, email, and website
- The name and contact information for the person submitting the proposal
- A description of the vendors background including:
- Ownership structure
- Acquisitions and mergers
- Years of experience providing services outlined in RFP
- Number of employees
- Number of customers
- Financial information that shows current and future financial health including financial statements, ratings, etc.
- What competitive advantages the vendor offers
- Whether the vendor uses third parties to deliver any of the services outlined in the RFP
- What payment terms you are looking for and what the vendor can provide
- Explanation of how services are implemented including:
- Methods of implementation
- Expectations of your company throughout the process
- Communication channels
- Examples of reports, training records and other documents that will be provided to you throughout deployment and the remainder of your working relationship
- Whether the vendor uses professional or technical service partners to implement their projects and necessary contact information
- Whether you will have a project manager
- Process for dealing with issues within the scope of the contract during implementation
- Who from your team will be needed to help with implementation
- What testing processes do you use before implementation
Support and ongoing service
- How the vendor manages relationships with clients
- How your company will interact with their call center team
- How will information be shared, especially when same day assistance is needed
- Data on same day support follow up and resolution times, along with explanation of company philosophy regarding same day support
- What service can be expected on accepting ticket submissions
- How tickets are prioritized and what is the vendors ticketing process
- Whether or not 24/7 support is available to your company
- How new information, updates and changes are released
- Whether the vendor has zero downtime maintenance
- What type of risk mitigation plans the vendor has in place
- Fee structure
- How many accounts each support team manages
- Communication channels covered by support
- Whether any services are handled by third parties and the necessary contact information
- Key metrics like average CSAT
- The type of training the vendor provides to employees
- Description of product, service and capability releases from past 12 months
- six month roadmap
- Call center vision
- Any other questions related to the specific services you need
- Description of the security structure used to protect information
- Copy of Security Policy
- Whether the vendor is PIPEDA (Personal Information Protection and Electronic Documents Act) compliant
Depending on your specific call center needs, this information can be expanded upon or condensed. The goal is to ensure you have the information you need to make the best decision possible.
Interested in learning more about building an RFP that can help you find the right otusourced contact center for your specific business requirements? Download our free contact center RFP tool kit today.