by George Demou
A Customer Experience partner works with companies to define, plan, and execute an optimal customer experience. Selecting a CX partner to support your organization’s customer experience efforts can be a challenging process.
How do you choose the right CX partner that will be the best fit for your team? Many brands start with an RFP process. While you can learn a lot about a CX consultancy from the RFP process, or by reviewing a vendor’s case studies and past work, it’s important to remember that an RFP is your best thinking from your current point of view.
Here are 5 critical questions that can help you evaluate a particular CX partner that go further than the standard RFP questions:
1. What type of CX services form their core competency?
Customer experience consulting agencies each offer varying types and levels of service and can often over time develop a core competency or specialization in one but not others.
The three primary types of services offered by CX consulting firms include:
1. Strategic guidance:Most CX firms offer strategy services with deliverables such as journey mapping, voice of the customer, design and process improvement guidance. CX strategy firms are helpful in creating a comprehensive roadmap but some vendors must often hand off the logistical execution of the plan to your team or another vendor.
2. Technology advice:Some firms offer services focused on specific technologies that support the execution of a CX strategy. These include contact center technology platforms, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software or other business productivity solutions. This type of advice or evaluations are designed to help you optimize the solutions you already use and/or implement new or upgraded platforms into your technology ecosystem.
3. End-to-end support services:In rare cases, a firm offers both CX strategy and CX technology services. These firms are able to guide you through all phases of CX design, implementation and ongoing management. These customer experience firms are experts in both strategic roadmap creation AND logistical execution leveraging technology.
What needs are most important to your organization now and in the future? How experienced is your existing team and how effective will your existing technology platform be in supporting a new CX strategy? Comparing the types of services offered by vendors against your current and future potential needs may help to narrow the field.
2. Do they make the effort to know your business?
To be truly effective, a CX strategy must be tailored directly to your company’s unique goals, challenges and the structure of your organization. CX firms must also listen carefully to the concerns and changing needs of their clients to ensure the appropriate guidance and support is provided.
When comparing CX consulting firms, ask each candidate about their initial discovery process. How long is this stage? Who on your team will the potential customer experience vendor be speaking with versus working with? How experienced are they with your industry and your competitors?
If a firm takes the time and makes the effort to carefully review your business, industry, customer base, goals and current challenges, they may be a viable fit. If the firm promises to dive immediately into strategic consulting, without conducting this crucial discovery, that might be a red flag.
3. Do they have the resources to get the job done?
When comparing vendors, many organizations review the size of the vendor’s company, their staff and the expertise they possess. These are certainly key factors, but vendor resources often beyond staffing and experience.
When comparing CX firms, also consider their:
CX technology set: The type and depth of the technology that a CX consulting firm uses are important considerations. If the firm supports a wide range of platforms, they are likely able to offer a customized mix of technologies to overcome the unique challenges within your organization.
Ask a potential vendor what software solutions they use internally to manage the CX experience for their own business. Firms that effectively leverage technology internally, such as project management or business productivity solutions, often offer their clients a more efficient and effective customer engagement.
Partnerships: Most CX firms maintain partnerships with technology vendors, such as Microsoft or Genesys, to benefit their customers. The more partnerships a firm maintains, the more options they have for addressing your specific CX needs.
Intellectual property portfolio: Many CX firms develop their own intellectual property (IP) to address unique challenges commonly faced by their clients. This IP commonly includes mobile applications, middleware and software integrations. Reviewing each firm’s IP portfolio is a great way to gain insight into their solutions, as well as their development capabilities.
4. Do they build long-term relationships with their clients?
It’s one thing to develop and implement a new CX strategy. But those strategies and technologies require ongoing improvement and management as your brand and company grow over time. You need a partner that will be with you through it all.
Ask potential vendors for specific customer experience references or long-term clients. If the vendor can demonstrate lengthy, successful relationships, it may be a signal that they focus on the long-term success of their clients. It also may be an indicator that they go the extra mile to keep clients happy and are willing to adapt to the changing needs of their clients.
5. Are they financially sound?
Nothing is more frustrating than selecting a partner and beginning work only to have that partner change service offerings or go under. When that happens, you may have to start over at square one.
Compare the stability of each organization by reviewing growth, service additions and any financial records the firm is willing to share.
Any red flags during this review process should be considered with the rest of the information gathered during your discovery.
Talk to Avtex
If you are looking for a CX partner, you need answers to these key questions. At Avtex, we work hard to provide all of the information and insight you need to understand our services, capabilities, and points of differentiation within the CX discipline.
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