I just recently notched a second decade on my contact center leadership belt loop, and I’ve more than once been tasked with purchasing technology, including multiple CCaaS (Contact Center as a Service) solutions. I’ve also worked with many clients in an outsourcing relationship, helping to guide them through this process. Having seen this often enough, allow me to share a bit about how this usually plays out.
The All-Too-Common CCaaS Purchase Process
My typical CCaaS purchase process begins by building a spreadsheet with a list of required features. The list consists of our understanding of both the features our current solution offers, along with the additional items we wish our current solution offered. It might also involve some level of begging IT and other company leaders for their input with mixed success.
For some organizations, this might more closely resemble an RFP (request for proposal) process with an enormous list of questions requiring an entire army of employees at each vendor to complete. Good luck getting a timely response.
The next step involves a Google search or perhaps a desperate plea to my network on LinkedIn to find out the solutions others use. From there, time is spent poring over feature lists, both on vendor sites along with popular technology review sites to figure out which vendor is the best fit for us. This can be incredibly frustrating because no vendor will ever post what they can’t do on their website, and there’s often inconsistent formatting or nomenclature across the industry for certain features. And they almost never share their pricing publicly.
Next comes demos with highly motivated salespeople. And while the aim during the conversation is to check off all of the items on the requirements list, the salespeople either don’t know answers to certain questions, they aren’t completely truthful, or time runs out before they have to rush off to their next call. After narrowing the search, you eventually haggle on the price for a bit and then sign, or e-sign, on a dotted line.
What a fruitless exercise this is, all too often leaving us to make an educated guess and hope for the best. And how often do we spend the next several months second-guessing our educated guess? It doesn’t help when that salesperson no longer returns your calls and you’re left on your own to implement the solution.
If you’ve had similar experiences evaluating and buying CCaaS solutions, chances are that you too have wondered if there might be a better way.
Purchasing Through a Customer Experience (CX) Solutions Provider
As you may have suspected, there is indeed a better way to go about this process—and it all starts by partnering with a CX solutions provider (CXSP).
What’s a CXSP? A true CXSP partners with all of the top CCaaS vendors—not just one or two, as in the past—creating a truly unbiased approach. As opposed to agents or consultants, a CXSP has technical design, implementation and support resources to truly partner with you on the project from start to finish. The CXSP also forges partnerships with dedicated teams at each CCaaS provider so the customer gets double the technical support and expertise.
Keep this definition in mind as I now highlight the various steps in the buying process for a CCaaS solution when you partner with a CXSP.
Step 1: Conduct a Needs Assessment
The CXSP will first sit down with you and assess the technology needs of your contact center. They might ask you questions like:
- What support channels do you offer to customers? Are there any you are looking to add in the future that your current solution doesn’t support?
- Is there any new technology you’ve got your eye on? Perhaps it’s finally time to move from on-premise to the cloud, as happens to be the case with increasingly more contact centers amid a global pandemic and the rise in remote work. You may also be interested in chatbots or virtual assistants to boost customer self-service, or perhaps you’re finally looking to leverage a CRM solution to provide customers with a more personalized experience.
- What metrics are critical to your success? These might include first-contact resolution, customer satisfaction, service level agreements and more.
- What’s your budget for a CCaaS solution?
- What are your security requirements? Think PCI Compliance, HIPAA, SOC 2, single sign-on, two-factor authentication and more.
Your answers to questions like these will help the CXSP design a solution that most perfectly aligns with your needs. They can also be an invaluable resource based on their understanding of industry best practices to ensure that you’re considering the right things.
Step 2: Identify “Best-Fit” Vendors
Based on your needs and requirements, and the CXSP’s vast understanding of what’s possible in the market, they will introduce you to a handful of vendors that make the best sense. If you do have an extensive set of requirements, or even an RFP, the CXSP will be much better equipped to work through this with you than a consultant or inside salesperson at any individual vendor.
Keep in mind that the CXSP has implemented most, if not all, of these solutions recently. The salesperson, on the other hand, may know their own solution fairly well, but they will rely on hearsay and oft out-of-date competitive intelligence for their understanding of the market. And a consultant will likely just manage the relationship with the vendor at a high level.
Step 3: Negotiate a Price
Now that you’ve narrowed your search down to one or two vendors, it’s time to discuss pricing. This is where it’s important to highlight three huge benefits to working with a CXSP.
- A CXSP has current market pricing for all vendors. Because the CXSP has partnerships with all of the major CCaaS companies, they have complete, up-to-the-minute pricing details for the marketplace. This is powerful information to have when negotiating a price with a particular vendor.
- A CXSP is vested in your long-term success. Let’s talk about how a CXSP makes their money. You actually pay the technology vendor directly, and then the CXSP is compensated by the vendor on a monthly basis for as long as you remain a customer. This means that they have a vested interest in your long-term success and have no problem helping you move to a new vendor should the need arise. Compare this with the inside salesperson who gets a commission when you sign up and then is on to the next deal.
- A CXSP can secure bulk pricing even for smaller deals. The third benefit to working with a CXSP is the fact that they receive deeply discounted pricing based on the hundreds, if not thousands, of contact center seats they’ve already brought to that vendor. This means that you potentially get the pricing of a 1,000-seat contact center, even though you may only bring 20 seats to the deal.
Step 4: Implementation and Ongoing Support
You are signed up, and now it’s time to implement the service. Remember that the CXSP has a vested interest in your long-term success, so they aren’t happy unless you’re happy. This means that they are your partner through the entire implementation process and beyond.
Should the need arise for ongoing support, you could reach out directly to the vendor, but good luck getting their attention as a 20-seat customer when the vendor is focusing much of their support and development energy keeping their 1,000-seat customers happy. The CXSP, on the other hand, can reach out on your behalf and, by sheer volume, receive the care and attention of a 1,000-seat customer. Also, don’t forget that the CXSP has been through this implementation many, many times and likely may not have to go to the vendor for support in the first place.
Which Buying Experience Do You Prefer?
As we observe two contrasting technology buying experiences, it’s important to point out that what we’re witnessing here is a true transformation and shift from analog to digital.
Consider the RFP mentioned earlier. That’s a truly analog, and painful, endeavor.
Instead, we recommend using the digital tools and partnerships that technology advancements have created, allowing you to enjoy this new digital purchasing process. And don’t be surprised if partnering with a CXSP boosts your customer experience, fueling a digital transformation by bringing together unified communication, CRM, workflow, reporting, analytics and more.
If you’re somewhere in the midst of this process, or plan to be soon, perhaps it’s time to find a partner—a customer experience solutions provider, that’s laser-focused on the success of you and your customers. Contact LANtelligence today to begin the conversation.