Now, more than ever, knowing how to select a contact center vendor is a critical skill for businesses that want to excel at delivering superior customer experiences (CX). Choosing a new technology partner and implementing their software solutions will impact contact center and overall business performance for years to come, so it's important to get it right.

Why is this task so critical? Because contact centers are on the front lines of interacting with customers and providing personalized, effective resolutions that strengthen relationships. Our recent research revealed that 95% of customers said customer service has an impact on brand loyalty,[i] making it imperative for contact centers to use modern cloud call center solutions.

Today's customers have expectations that are difficult, if not impossible, to meet when a business uses outdated, on-premises legacy systems. People expect digital channel options, effective self-service, seamless omnichannel experiences, 24/7 support, and personalized customer service interactions.

Meeting these customer demands is a primary driver for many businesses who upgrade their call center platforms. Modern times call for modern technology. Unfortunately, not all software implementations go smoothly. By one estimate, "Only 30% of transformations met or exceeded their target value and resulted in sustainable change."[ii]

To increase their odds of success, businesses need to know how to select a contact center vendor. This article will discuss several mistakes to avoid when choosing a new software provider.

Why upgrading your contact center technology is a competitive imperative

As mentioned, businesses are upgrading their call center systems to meet customer expectations, but that's a rather high-level concept. Let's dig a little deeper to find out why it's important to select the right vendor and software for your contact center.

In a 2020 study, we discovered that 42% of contact centers planned to invest in contact center technology, an increase from the previous year. Further, 66% of contact centers who were not using cloud at the time were planning to accelerate their move to the cloud as a result of the pandemic.[iii]

The pandemic caused a substantial shift towards cloud technology, as cloud-based systems are easily accessed by remote agents and other contact center staff. They also have the following CX-enhancing capabilities.

Rapidly scalable

Unexpectedly high call volumes can overwhelm legacy systems, which just might drop callers or give them a busy signal when volume exceeds capacity. That creates a terrible customer experience. In contrast, businesses can scale rapidly and easily when their systems are in the cloud because software vendors typically have substantial capacity their clients can take advantage of.

Highly flexible

Scalability is one of many examples of how flexible cloud solutions can be. Other examples include the ability to quickly add other software modules, easy integrations with other applications such as CRM, and easy access to operational data. This flexibility gives businesses the ability to quickly respond to changing business conditions and customer demands.

Highly innovative

Cloud solutions from the best contact center vendors include the latest, leading-edge technology, such as digital channels, artificial intelligence, omnichannel orchestration, and automation. This empowers their clients to develop creative and personalized customer experiences.

Essential for business continuity

As noted, cloud call center systems can be accessed from anywhere, which means businesses can keep the lights on despite pandemics and natural disasters. Additionally, because the vendor hosts the software and has redundant environments, system access won't be disrupted by local events, such as a fire at the contact center. Having strong business continuity means customers will have the 24/7 access to support they expect.

4 mistakes to avoid when choosing a contact center technology provider

Part of knowing how to select a contact center vendor is understanding what pitfalls to avoid. Steering clear of the following mistakes will help your software selection process be more successful.

Mistake 1 - Only evaluating the software and not the vendor

Software selections are usually highly focused on technical and functional requirements, and rightly so. Technology purchasers need to ensure their new solutions check all the requirements boxes so they're confident the software will support their CX vision and integrate well with existing systems.

However, it would be a mistake to not perform equally rigorous due diligence on the software provider. Just because they have a great product doesn't mean they will be a stable and supportive partner going forward. Organizations that know how to select a contact center vendor find out answers to questions such as:

  • Is the vendor financially stable?
  • How will they treat our organization once the sales process is over?
  • Do they have experience in our industry?
  • Do they have experience with clients of a similar size?
  • What kind of support do they offer during and after implementation?
  • How long have they been in business and how old is their software?

Knowing this information and more will help businesses choose both a great contact center system and a strong, capable vendor.

Mistake 2 - Not fully assessing transition frameworks and methodologies

Migrating from an on-premises call center solution to a cloud platform can either be smooth or bumpy, depending on the vendor's approach and experience. You should be able to choose the level of implementation support you need, ranging from no touch to high touch. And if you choose high touch, you should be confident that the vendor has the capability and capacity to make your move to a new platform a success.

Any organization in the market for new contact center solutions should find out the following about prospective vendors:

  • Framework for migrating from a setup similar to yours. For example, if you'll be transitioning out of an Avaya system, you should ask vendors about their methodologies for migrating from Avaya to their software.
  • Details about their professional services and consulting services.
  • The nature of their new user training.

Knowing these details will help ensure you're choosing a vendor that will partner with you for a smooth transition.

Mistake 3 - Not fully assessing a vendor's dedication to innovation

Technology is evolving rapidly these days, so part of knowing how to select a contact center vendor requires evaluating their commitment to innovation. You may be switching from your legacy call center system because it's stuck in the 90s, so you'll want to make sure you're not switching to another stodgy, rudimentary solution.

Industry-leading software vendors constantly capitalize on new technology by incorporating it into their software products. This enables their clients to have a competitive edge when it comes to customer service and CX. To make sure your vendor is dedicated to performance-enhancing innovation, ask the following types of questions:

  • Can you tell me about your AI platform?
  • Can you provide some examples of your solutions that are infused with AI?
  • What types of new features were included in your last two major releases?
  • Have you acquired any companies in the last two years that gave you new capabilities to add to your software solutions?
  • Roughly how much do you invest in innovation each year?
  • Do you have a team dedicated to innovation?
  • What type of third-party developer community do you have?

Choosing a vendor that makes innovation a priority will ensure your new contact center software will change with the times and that your business can offer innovative customer experiences.

Mistake 4 - Only basing selection on your current requirements

Migrating to a new contact center platform is a unique opportunity to transform the way your business delivers customer service. The right solution will give your contact center the ability to provide omnichannel experiences, effective self-service, and support in a multitude of digital channels. It also gives you the opportunity to improve CX oversight and management and enhance the agent experience.

It would be a huge mistake to squander the opportunity because requirements are driven by the limitations of the current system. Instead, it's time to think out of the box and develop a multi-year vision for customer service. If you have a 3-5 year road map, that will help ensure whatever vendor you choose has the capabilities you need, even if you won't be using them all right out of the gate.

Sometimes it's knowing what mistakes to avoid that can set you up for success.

Want to know more about how to select a contact center vendor? We can help!

NICE is in the business of making customer experiences flow, and we have a proven track record of transforming contact centers with our innovative CXone software solutions. Our commitment to customer experiences has earned the trust of over 620,000 agents worldwide, and as you know they can be a tough group to satisfy!

To find out why you should partner with NICE for your next contact center platform, visit our home page or get in touch. We think you'll like what you see and hear.

[i] NICE: 2022 Digital-first Customer Experience Report (2022)
[ii] BCG: Companies Can Flip the Odds of Success in Digital Transformations from 30% to 80% (2020)
[iii] NICE: 2020 Customer Experience (CX) Transformation Benchmark (2020)

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