Contact Centre Purchasing Process
In this academy course, you’re going to learn how to make the best possible purchasing decision for your organisation.
After watching this series of videos, you’ll be equipped with a step-by-step structure to guide your way through the decision-making process.
Armed with this knowledge, you’ll be able to get the right solution up and running for your team – on time, and on budget.
We’ll cover the ROI process, defining your specific needs, how to get the most out of a demo, and much, much more.
I’m Dave O’Leary, and I’d like to welcome you to the contactSPACE academy!
What is the purchasing process?
I have personally witnessed far too many organisations choose software solutions that don’t meet their actual needs.
They end up wasting massive amounts of money, trying to fit a square peg into a round hole, before giving up, and eventually going back to the market.
Now, why does this happen?
Put simply: these firms didn’t take the time to understand the purchasing process.
Here’s a list of key factors to consider, which you can use to set yourself up for success.
First, identify the business problem you’re trying to solve, and define it as clearly as possible.
Most often, in the context of the contact centre, your outcomes are centred around one or more of the following areas:
- Maximising efficiency – spending more time talking, and taking a strategic approach to managing your data.
- Achieving your business goals – whether this be sales, fundraising, renewals, or other objectives you can place a dollar figure on.
- And the customer experience – creating seamless interactions between your team and the customer.
Secondly, you want to consider the stakeholders involved, and how they will contribute to the final decision that your team ends up making.
It’s important that you have a strategy that defines how you will consider the needs of all of the people, up and down the chain.
This way, you’re taking into account what everybody needs from the system – from the end-users, to the person who will approve the final decision.
Next. think about who will champion the change in your organisation.
Who will be responsible for executing the evaluation process, and ensuring that the right decision is made?
Assigning responsibility is of critical importance.
Finally, think about your timeframe for getting a solution in place.
This comes back to the outcomes you’re trying to achieve.
If you’ve defined a real business need that your new solution will solve, it’s in your best interests to get it up and running as soon as possible.
Each month you delay will cost your business real money. Often, the most costly decision is a delayed decision, or no decision at all.
At the beginning of your journey, you should set a concrete deadline for your decision to be made. This holds you accountable, and ensures that the project doesn’t end up in the too-hard basket.
To summarise, the purchasing process does not have to be complex – it just has to be well-planned.
With the right structure in place, you’ll be able to find a solution that meets your business needs.
Confirming the value
This is what it boils down to.
How will your new contact centre solution deliver real value to your business?
To confirm what success looks like, it’s crucial to calculate your return on investment, or ROI, prior to committing to a new solution.
The key to confirming value is to think not just about the hard, measurable benefits, but also the intangible benefits of upgrading your system.
Think about the effect the software could have on team morale, or the customer experience.
Think of improving the capabilities of staff, allowing them to achieve their outcomes more quickly.
Now I’ve spent years helping contact centres achieve better outcomes. And in that time, I’ve learnt an incredible amount from these folks about what makes their teams successful.
Here’s something they’ve taught me, that I’d like to share with you.
The cost of somebody leaving your team is around one to three times their annual salary.
Attrition is the number one contact centre killer.
In order to minimise your turnover, you want to empower the users to perform their role to the best of their ability. Your solution should give the team leaders the visibility to identify your best performers, and use their insights to help those who need support.
Imagine the benefits of a solution that takes minutes, not weeks, to train new staff how to use.
Having an intuitive solution provides an incredible amount of flexibility, because the onboarding process is a small cost, not a major expense.
You may also want to improve the quality of the conversations that you’re having with your customers. This could be achieved by something as simple as calling them at the right time, or delivering the right data to the right agent at the right time.
Where you are today might be a good place that works, but is not efficient, or not as effective as your team could be.
What’s the cost of not being great?
If you can identify these intangible benefits, and proportion some notion of tangible benefit to them, you’re well on your way to calculating a great ROI.
Projecting the costs and benefits of switching your solution, or purchasing a new one, is a fundamental step in the decision-making process.
However, it’s also critical to perform a deep dive into the different business outcomes you’re trying to achieve.
This way, you’ll be able to make the best-possible decision for your organisation.
First of all, you want to identify and prioritise the business outcomes that matter to you and your team.
Keep in mind, a “bucket of features” won’t necessarily enable your team to be successful.
It’s important to consider the overall experience – how your frontline users and team leaders will actually interact with the system, and how it empowers them to be successful.
Share your most important business objectives with vendors as you go to market.
As a vendor, what matters most to us is getting to the bottom of how we can help optimise your business processes.
This is actually how we provide value.
You don’t just need a contact centre system – you need a solution that will help your team achieve better outcomes – whether it be more sales, better relationships, or any other objective.
It’s a good idea to map out your business processes, and show vendors exactly what you’re trying to achieve.
This way, you’ll be in a much better position to find a solution that fits in with how your organisation operates.
If certain vendors focus on their bucket of features and widgets and give you a one-size-fits-all demonstration, it’s likely that they don’t really have your objectives front of mind.
Remember: whose business outcomes matter most?
Here’s how to pick the perfect contact centre solution.
You need to develop a systematic approach to comparing different solutions, based on a set of concrete evaluation criteria.
First of all, make a list of key scenarios that the solution must thrive in. Then, test how it responds in each of these situations.
For example, you may need a solution that can easily handle the segmentation of numerous data sources, and the different ways to interact with those customers.
If managing multiple data sources is something that’s important to you, emphasise its importance to the vendor.
Ensure that the solution thrives in this scenario in the demonstration.
We’ll discuss how to prepare for the demo a little later in this course.
You also want to define the key functionality that you actually need.
You may want the ability to handle multichannel contact, take phone-based payments, or collect data through an IVR.
However, you cannot evaluate different solutions based entirely on the bucket of features that they offer.
The features you do end up purchasing cannot just be nice to have. They must help your team achieve specific goals, and add real, tangible value to your contact centre.
I’ve heard far too many firms buy for the roadmap, only to never utilise these features. You have to be pragmatic.
The functionality you go for must be relevant to your immediate plans if it is to deliver immediate value. You need to think about the added complexity that each new feature adds to your setup, versus the benefit it is going to deliver for your team.
We’ll show you exactly how to handle decision-making complexity in the next video.
The decision-making process can seem almost infinitely complex.
Often, there are so many stakeholders involved, and so many perceived risks in making a change, that it can be difficult to complete the process properly.
You also have to understand the technical complexity of the solutions you evaluate, which can prove difficult. How do you translate industry jargon into real, tangible results?
Here’s how to cut through the complexity.
The place to start is thinking about the functionality that will actually add value to your organisation.
I still remember the first proper flat-screen TV that I bought.
In the shop, it looked great – it had fantastic speakers, brilliant clarity, and it supported HD TV.
However, when I got it home, something came up that I hadn’t considered.
Navigating free-to-air channels, DVDs, cable, games, and eventually Netflix was a real hassle.
And why? Because each channel had a different remote.
The problem is, in the buying process, we’re often lured by the bucket of features.
It’s human nature. We all want to have the latest and greatest thing, because it’s easy to attribute value to tangible value to tangible objects, or products.
But it’s also important to think about the functionality that matters to your team.
For most teams, there’s little point in defining every little detail of what a great solution looks like.
Instead, think about what your priorities are, based on what would add value.
Also, think about the complexity associated with your current system. How could you simplify your setup?
To assess your current level of complexity, the first step is to think about the technical challenges facing administrators.
For example, how easily can they change how the interfaces look?
How intuitive is the system to use? How long does it take to onboard new staff?
Remember, complexity is relative. Your current solution may not seem at all complicated, until you compare it to the options on the market. This is why getting a good demo is so important.
We’ll show you how to make the most out of a demonstration a little later in this course.
Importance of connectivity
I’m a new user who has just joined your contact centre team.
It’s my first day making calls, and I’m keen to hit the ground running.
I’m raring to go, and I want to show you what I can do.
What information am I going to be presented that will enable me to achieve incredible outcomes?
Your ultimate goal is to create knowledge workers.
Knowledge workers are users who have everything they need in front of them to achieve awesome results.
Knowledge workers don’t need hours upon hours of training to be successful.
They’re already armed will all of the information they need to begin a truly engaging conversation, not just a normal phone call, each and every time.
With this information in-hand, your team can get into a rhythm, which supports better selling and better support.
We’ve seen one of our customers triple the efficiency of their fundraising team by adopting the philosophy of the knowledge worker.
This organisation realised that if they were to continue growing, they had to move beyond legacy solutions that were unable to provide the connectivity their team needed.
Key to their success was moving beyond static, plain scripts.
Instead, they chose to provide their users with dynamic, visually-appealing CallGuides® that integrated key customer data, including prior interaction history.
Armed with this information, staff were able to better-engage with each and every contact, leading to an incredible uplift in the results they were achieving.
It’s important to think about what users really need to know in order to deliver better-quality conversations.
You may want to use prior call and conversation history to enable your team to better-personalise their interactions.
It’s also important to consider how you will keep the conversation on-message, without relying too heavily on scripted material.
It’s not enough to purchase a solution with integrations tacked on.
What matters most is how the system actually turns this data into information that your team can use to be successful from the moment that they come on board.
Making the most of a demo
We’ve performed countless software demos for a range of different organisations here at contactSPACE.
We know what makes a good demo, and what makes a bad one.
Here’s how to get the most value from a demonstration, and ensure it covers all the bases.
The most important thing is to give yourself plenty of time to prepare.
Before the demo, you should communicate your needs with the supplier, and think about what business outcomes you’re trying to achieve, and how the new solution will help you reach these objectives.
This is how you will ultimately evaluate the content of the demo.
You want to determine whether or not the software has been proven to help you achieve the outcomes that you’re after.
To perform an apples-to-apples comparison between different solutions, you need to ensure consistency in your evaluation process.
Imagine interviewing five different candidates for a new role on your team.
If you were to ask each of them a completely different set of questions, how would you be able to evaluate objectively?
This is why good preparation is so important.
Here’s how to ensure consistency in the evaluation process.
Prior to the demo, you should prepare a detailed criteria sheet, listing out all the crucial things you want to see demonstrated.
Each item should be given a weighting, based on its importance to the effectiveness of your business.
Typically this sheet would include key functionality that you need to see, as well as the intangible benefits that matter to you.
For example, how intuitive is the system to use, and does it allow you to do things quickly?
During the actual demonstration, make detailed notes against this criteria sheet, to evaluate how the solution performs in the areas that matter most.
And remember – a demonstration should be an interactive process. It shouldn’t just be the vendor selling you a bucket of features.
It’s about showing you how the software works to solve your problems and achieve the outcomes you are seeking.
And be sure to ask questions. My sales team and I love to show you what our solution can do.
Here’s why I am speaking with you today.
We recognise that for some teams, the most appropriate contact solution isn’t necessarily going to be contactSPACE. And that’s OK!
We want to help you find the right system, that’s going to be a great fit for your team. And that’s what matters to us.
If you’re keen to learn more about how we manage the evaluation process here at contactSPACE, give us a call! We’re always down for a chat.
And while you’re here, be sure to ensure in the contactSPACE Academy, and we’ll show you even more exclusive insights into contact centre best practice.
I’m Dave O’Leary, and I’ll see you in the next one. Take care!
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