Financial Operations Network | Measuring the P2P Customer Service Journey
In the realm of payables’ customer service and vendor relations, there are three kinds of metrics to look at, and chances are you’re already looking at one and maybe two of them ...
Vendor Relations, metrics, P2P metrics
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Measuring the P2P Customer Service Journey

Measuring the P2P Customer Service Journey

Customer service is an increasingly consequential aspect of accounts payable. And according to a Financial Operations Network survey, most AP departments — 88 percent — rated their own customer service as either good or excellent.

Good news? Not so fast. Only one in five had ever asked their internal customers and just one in ten actually surveyed their suppliers for feedback on their service.

In any area of consequence it is important to know how well your team is actually performing. Sure, self-assessment is important and common performance metrics will be a major indicator. But there’s more to look at, and asking your customers how you are doing provides a “reality check” you won’t get otherwise!

Areas to Measure (You May Be Part Way There Already)

Metrics are a tool to help you understand where you stand currently and identify issues you need to address. Don’t think of them as “one more thing” you ought to be doing, but as a handy utensil to make it easier for you to do what you want to get done. Metrics will tell you where you are currently and help you identify and prioritize issues; they are useful in goal setting, and can be used to measure and demonstrate improvement.

In the realm of customer service, there are three kinds of metrics to look at, and chances are you’re already looking at one and maybe two of the kinds.

The first are your key AP performance metrics, led by the paid-on-time rate. (Spoiler — there’s going to be a correlation between a high paid-on-time rate and the number of your customers who are pleased with your service!) Many other key performance indicators will give you a picture of your operation’s effectiveness and efficiency, which go a long way toward satisfying customers.

You can also learn a lot by gathering metrics from customer inquiries. How many inquiries are you getting? What format are they in (email, phone, etc.)? How much time do you spend on each inquiry? How many inquiries are resolved in one contact? What are the reasons for the inquiries?

Your system may make tracking this information easy. But if not, create a simple spreadsheet for individual staff members to use to keep track. These metrics will provide a trove of information that you can use to identify and prioritize issues. Another option is to use InvoiceInfo’s AP Customer Service Activity Survey — a simple, desktop application your team can fill out in seconds as they handle inquiries. The AP Customer Service Activity Survey is available to you at no cost. If you are interested in learning more, click here to request your AP Customer Service Activity Survey.

The third way of measuring your customer service is to survey your customers, both internal and external. Often we don’t know something because we have not asked. Take a lesson from consumer-based companies, who are asking their customers for feedback all the time.

The KISS principle applies: keep it short and simple. Consider conducting a brief survey of all your customers. Ask them to rate your service on: setup/enrollment; timeliness; accuracy; overall service; and communication. Give them a three-or-four point scale from poor to excellent to rate your department.

Also include an open-ended question or two, such as “What do we need to improve or do differently?” and “What are we doing well?” Or leave space for additional comments. These open-ended invitations for comments can yield valuable information.

Such a short, simple survey will give you a starting point. Surveys can be set up easily in readily available survey software, and can be included in emails.

Another approach is to do ongoing surveys of customers one by one as you communicate with them. Include a very brief survey as you communicate with customers via email or at the conclusion of a phone call.

Quit trying to manage by intuition and noise or you may be managing the wrong things. Get and use metrics. These measures will help you see and understand your situation and enable you to improve your payables customer service. As the great tennis player Arthur Ashe said, “Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.”

To see how InvoiceInfo’s self-service solutions can benefit your operations and your company click here to request more information or call us at (678) 335-5735.

 



Stop Calls and Emails, Enhance
Service and Increase Profit!

InvoiceInfo saves labor hours and cost by helping suppliers and internal staff easily and instantly get answers online to their invoice-payment questions.

If you are like many finance leaders today, you are being challenged to reduce costs more quickly. InvoiceInfo delivers real bottom-line results almost immediately, allowing you to deploy your customer service staff to focus on more productive, bottom-line oriented tasks.

Let us show you how InvoiceInfo's vendor self-service portal can help your organization eliminate invoice inquiry emails and calls while enhancing service to your accounts payable customers.

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Get Up and Running Quickly and Seamlessly

InvoiceInfo and VendorInfo are standalone applications that can be up and running in as little as two weeks, with little or no IT resources required.

The faster your online portal is up and running, the sooner you will start reaping the benefits. InvoiceInfo and VendorInfo are dedicated solely to helping AP and procurement departments slash the time and expense of servicing vendors, while improving customer service for their suppliers.

InvoiceInfo and VendorInfo are simple solutions with big results. They are easy to implement and easy to use. Here’s how one customer described the process: “You give vendors a URL, provide instructions about what they need to know and tell them to go use it.” It really is that easy.

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Improve Productivity with a Self-Service Solution

For most organizations, deploying a technology solution is a significant investment, and like most investments, the decision point ultimately comes down to the expected return on that investment.

According to a recent benchmark study by The Accounts Payable Network, 60% of AP customer service calls are from vendors while 40% are from internal customers. Vendor issues actually make up even more of the AP call volume than the 60% identified. Many times when a vendor has an issue, the vendor contacts their buyer or purchasing representative, who in turn contacts AP. Even though the call comes from an internal customer, the question originated with the vendor.

Vendor calls affect productivity in your organization exponentially. When vendors call the requisitioner, they are affecting that person’s productivity. Your internal customer’s productivity shrinks when fielding the vendor’s call and again when making the follow up call to AP and getting back to the vendor. Finally, AP’s productivity suffers as a result of the internal customer’s call, the payment status research and the follow-up communication.

With a minimal investment of IT time and talent, you can start reducing customer service calls and expense in a matter of weeks. In addition, you improve vendor relations since you are giving your vendors what they want — answers to their questions immediately — a win-win for everyone involved!

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Easy and Economical Solution to Serve Vendors Around the World

InvoiceInfo can help you provide best-in-class customer service to your vendors around the world at a fraction of the cost.

Many organizations today have offices and operations throughout the world and are dealing with many time zones, different languages, and in some cases multiple ERP systems. InvoiceInfo currently supports different languages and can easily work with multiple ERP systems in different locations.

The key to good customer service is to provide the information that the customer wants when they want it. Whether your customer is a vendor waiting for a payment or a colleague that needs information on payment status, they want their information right away. If your organization has vendors and offices in other countries, they can be challenging and expensive to serve. But, with InvoiceInfo, your international vendors and internal customers can access the information they need when they need it.

With InvoiceInfo, you won’t have to staff your customer service team with 24-hour coverage in multiple languages to provide high-quality customer service around the world.

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Enhance AP’s Role As a Strategic Partner

Learn how InvoiceInfo can help AP do more with less while continuously improving productivity and bottom-line results.

Many automation technologies such as scanning, workflow, e-invoicing, ACH, and electronic invoicing require significant investments of money, time and talent, making it difficult to get buy-in from upper management. Not InvoiceInfo!

If your goal for your AP department is to reduce costs quickly, call or email us today to learn more about how InvoiceInfo can help you achieve this goal through a quick, inexpensive and easy implementation of a vendor self-service portal.

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Enhance Vendor Relationships

InvoiceInfo helps suppliers’ AR departments with simple and convenient access to invoice payment status online at a cost savings for all involved.

It may seem that the organization paying the vendor should hold all the cards in the relationship. But sometimes the opposite is true. Past-due payments and customer service perceptions can harm supplier relationships and disrupt the supply chain.

Your vendors and vendor relationship managers are living in a dynamic, fast-paced environment, so when invoice information is required, it is needed quickly and expected to be of high quality. With InvoiceInfo, your suppliers get answers to invoice inquiries real time, 24/7 with no need to leave messages and wait for responses. Studies show that confidence in data increases when suppliers access invoice and payment information themselves.

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Give Procurement and Buyers the Tool They
Need to Respond to Vendors Quickly

Not only can InvoiceInfo be used by suppliers to learn the status of invoice payments, it can also be used internally within your organization.

In addition to reducing calls from vendors regarding invoice status, you can also reduce internal emails and calls from co-workers wanting to learn the status of invoice payment, and save time and effort and boost efficiency and productivity across the organization. Studies show that 40% of AP customer service calls are from internal customers. Many of these are from requisitioners who have received calls or emails from the supplier checking on payment status. These calls are often more expensive for the company because the internal staff member has taken the call or received an email from the supplier, contacted AP for the payment status and had to return the call or email the supplier.

By providing the vendor with a convenient and credible online option to get the answers it needs regarding payment status, you can eliminate multiple calls/emails between the vendor and the requisitioner saving time and money.

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Eliminate Difficult Vendor Calls and See
Productivity and Staff Morale Soar

Reduce invoice payment inquiries and “promote” your vendor service team to more satisfying and profit-producing tasks.

By sharply reducing inbound calls and emails regarding receipt and payment status that your AP staff must handle individually, your staff can focus their efforts on more productive, cost-saving activities, learn new tasks, feel more confident and boost their careers.

According to a recent American Express survey on customer service, more than one-third of consumers have lost their temper with a customer service professional in the past year. Of those who lost their temper, three in ten “hung up the phone.” Your staff will no longer have to deal with difficult collectors who can be upsetting and disruptive. Your staff will feel that their time and talents are being put to better use and will feel better about themselves, their jobs and their organization. Reducing these calls can be a real productivity and morale booster for your AP department!

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Simplify and Streamline Vendor Onboarding

According to Price Waterhouse Coopers, the average organization spends about $20 in labor to file each paper document, approximately $120 in labor searching for each misfiled document and $220 in re-creation of a document.

Wouldn’t it be great to have all your W-9’s, W-8’s and other registration documents completed online and instantly filed online for easy access when needed? With Vendor Self-Service Onboarding Module, VendorInfo, you can onboard your new vendors in one convenient location and eliminate paperwork and hassles.

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Verify the Accuracy of Vendor Information and Stay in Compliance with IRS and Treasury Department Regulations

Government regulators are increasing the complexity of regulations and penalties associated with vendor-related non-compliance.

Penalties for incorrect 1099’s have more than doubled in recent years. Over the last several years, OFAC has levied more than $1 billion in fines against American companies or subsidiaries that did business with restricted businesses, organizations and individuals on its SDN list. In addition to fining these companies, the Treasury Department posts the names of infringing organizations along with fines paid.

VendorInfo Onboarding Module verifies the accuracy of vendor information and helps protect your organization by avoiding embarrassing penalties and fines.

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