5 THINGS HINDERING YOUR DIGITAL CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE

Look, unless you’re a BA, procurement officer or masochist, putting RFPs together isn’t a lot of fun. However, the fate of a project’s overall success can truly be swayed one way or the other based on a company’s ability to effectively articulate its needs.

Below are 4 tips that extend past the standard stuff in any RFP (who, why, what, how and when), and if considered, can serve the betterment of both the buying and delivering process.

1. BE TRANSPARENT, BE REALISTIC AND BE FAIR

This is all about remembering the golden rule. While penning an RFP, keep in mind that the response, assessment and selection processes all require significant time and energy for both buyer and seller. Applying this thoughtfulness upfront will go a long way in ensuring a mutual level of respect. This ultimately improves the overall quality of responses. Be:
  • Transparent – This is not in the sense of radically sharing every intimate detail of your organization. This is more of a declaration of self-awareness by describing precisely who you are, where you are currently and where you’d like to be.
  • Realistic – Also extends from self-awareness, and represents an understanding of what’s achievable both from a participation standpoint (what your company can commit to the project), and ultimately, a realistic expectation of outcomes.
  • Fair – Provide prospective vendors adequate time to respond, and whenever possible, engage in dialogue. RFP Q/A sessions with participants can be time consuming, but undoubtedly improve mutual understanding of the needs, and will lead to better submissions. Give vendors a fair shake by providing time and attention.

2. DON'T BE TOO PRESCRIPTIVE ON THE APPROACH.

Several variables may impact a company’s rigidity on this (size of organization, procurement governance, positioning within the digital maturity model, etc.), however allowing prospective vendors the ability to propose a methodology, while extending some creative license surrounding services performed and, ultimately work delivered, is rife with positives.

Many RFPs focus too much on prescribing activities, rather than clearly articulating general project goals and long-term objectives. By doing this, companies often ‘box-in’ the spectrum of services they can/will receive from jump street, or run the risk of client-vendor expectation conflict upon project execution. (PS, any firm worth its salt will bring up these activity gaps during Discovery, anyway).

Extending a little flexibility:  
  • Creates a medium to validate a firm’s strategic capabilities, depth of understanding, and viability as a long-term strategic partner for future engagements
  • Provides a greater lens into a vendor’s working style (communication, team structure, collaboration), allowing you to ensure it jibes well with your business’ Allows for further differentiation between competing firms
  • Can serve as a mechanism for education and might result in an approach or solution you hadn’t even thought about
  • Lastly, can reduce the likelihood of change orders or scope creep as a more explicit understanding of service-level is provided at the proposal stage

3. DETAIL WHAT THE PARTNER WILL HAVE TO WORK WITH; STATE ASSETS.

As a consultant, in order to get a full picture of the requested scope of work, and to compose an informed, strategic approach to solving the defined problem(s), it’s extremely helpful to know what you have available to support the project upfront.

Assets can include audience research, analytics, survey results, customer interviews, user-test findings, and competitive or relevant 3rd-party research. They also include access privileges to digital properties, designs or corresponding strategic work.

Don’t forget about people, either – they're assets. Availability of internal talent, stakeholders, other agency relationships, and in some cases, customers, are worth detailing in an RFP, as well.

Ultimately, providing this information will narrow the aperture of scope and lesson the variability of pricing that comes back in responses from vendors.

4. WRITE TIGHT.

This one can be a bit tricky. As touched on point 2, depending on your organization, there may be very strict requirements and structure mandated by institutionalized SOPs, that can push the size, and level of effort required, to produce a response. However, whenever possible, write tight.

The goal is to effectively stipulate problems and objectives, not create an endurance challenge. By reducing RFP bloat, you lesson the burden of your response assessment, and center attention around the critical elements submitted in a proposal.

Additionally, you’re going to find a greater participation and response rate from firms, who all do a viability assessment before committing time, energy and resources to respond.

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