Call Center RFP: 7 Questions You Must Ask

Things rarely stay the same in CX. The NOW Customer’s demands for speedy and authentic experiences are growing rapidly, with no sign of slowing down. Right now, it’s more important than ever to stay nimble in all aspects of customer experience… and the questions you ask in a call center RFP are no exception. 

The truth is, the traditional RFP issued for customer service providers hasn’t been cutting it. The questions are often based on a decades-old contact center model, one that is misaligned with the digital world of NOW CX and focused on cost savings rather than revenue generation

The key to finding a terrific CX partner or call center is to ask questions that press on the key aspects of NOW CX:

  • Flexibility
  • Proficiency with revenue-focused metrics
  • Speed, precision

Why Write an RFP? 

One benefit to using an RFP is that it forces you to sit down and write out exactly what you are looking for in your ideal call center. A good RFP will help you avoid the regrettable situation in which, down the road, you discover that the call center you have selected is riddled with fixed costs, staffing inefficiencies, and inabillity to scale to the demands of today’s customers.

Another benefit is that call center RFPs save you time. Instead of going over your requirements with each potential outsourcer, you only need to write them down once. Potential call center suppliers can then review your RFP requirements at their convenience and remove themselves from the running if they aren’t suitable.

Important: the standardization of an RFP makes it easier to compare your different options and select the supplier that objectively makes the most sense for your customer service needs.

A great (not good) RFP will go a long way in helping you with call center outsourcing and winning over the NOW Customer.

7 NEW Questions to Ask Every Customer Service Supplier

The following call center RFP questions are focused on everything that the NOW Customer seeks from your brand (and the results you’d like to see): more flexibility, best-in-class response times, and revenue generation. 

  1. Do you have lock periods? If so, please explain why.

Why it works: Lock periods are a sign of inflexibility. If a call center still uses 30- or 90-day lock periods, they’re missing a fundamental challenge of today’s CX: it’s nearly impossible to forecast volume, and flexibility has never been more important. A contact center that operates with lock periods is more than likely inflexible in other areas as well. Tread with caution. 

  1. Please provide at least two examples of how you’ve helped previous clients increase conversion and repurchase rates on their eCommerce sites. Please include detail on how your metrics were calculated. 

Why it works: Your applicants need to know that CX is no longer a cost center, but a revenue generator. Any potential CX partners should be fluent in the metrics that reflect better buying behavior. If they do NOT have a track record of increasing conversion rates, it’s an indication that a) they’re out of touch or, worse, b) they’re dead set on their role as “cost center” for their clients.   

  1. Do you charge differently for 24/7 coverage? Please explain. 

Why it works: “Business hours” don’t exist for your online customers… so why should they exist for your contact center partner? Charging a premium for “after hours” is a strong indication that the vendor is out of touch with our on-demand world and the NOW Customer.  

  1. Are there metrics outside of the traditional first response time, first call resolution, average handle time, etc. that you would recommend we incorporate? 

Why it works: The answer to this question will tell you whether or not a contact center is adopting new metrics for today’s CX climate. Look for metrics like these in RFP answers:

  • Repurchase rate
  • Happiness of agents (via Glassdoor rating)
  • Reduction in contacts per order (traditionally, there are incentives to drive more volume into a contact center. This is not, and should not, be the case anymore.)
  1. How have you helped a CX organization strategically transform from cost center to revenue driver? 

Why it works: Customer experience is the battleground for business right now. Your contact center should be helping you achieve CX-generated revenue goals.

  1. Please provide at least two examples of how you’ve used data to guide business solutions outside of the support organization to reduce incoming volume. Do you charge for this? How do you do it (manually or through automation)?

Why it works: Creating exceptional customer experiences isn’t always and only about offering exceptional service and support. Sometimes it’s about nipping problems in the bud. And your any partner you bring into your CX operation should be tech-enabled to easily spot experience gaps, areas of friction and frequent complaints in the buying process that once addressed outside the contact center will reduce overall volume –  indicating fewer issues.

  1. Please provide detailed metrics on your performance against the following benchmarks (1) across all of your clients and (2) for clients similar to us in volume and seasonality. Please note if calculations are made on a 24/7 basis or limited hours of operation:  

Email first response times 

  • Percent (%) under 15 minutes
  • Percent (%) under 1 hour
  • Percent (%) under 3 hours
  • Percent (%) under 12 hours
  • Percent (%) under 15 minutes

Chat first response times 

  • Percent (%) under 20s
  • Percent (%) under 30s
  • Percent (%) under 60s

Why it works: You’re looking for best-in-class response times. Insist that the vendor shows success within the timeframes given. NOW Customers expect responses quicker than ever — email response times under 15 minutes and chat responses under 20 seconds are not exceptions, they are the norm.

Ready to bring your RFP into the NOW era?

RFPs may be a requirement, but they don’t have to be stagnant. 

Issuing an RFP is a key opportunity to really assess the challenges and ambitions of your current CX team. The ability to find like-minded partners hinges on the ability to ask incisive questions that serve the best interest of your business and the NOW Customer.