01 Nov Vendor Self-Service: Valuable to You, Valuable for Vendor Relations
If you do not have a portal to enable self-service by your vendors, you should.
Why? Vendor self-service is valuable to your accounts payable group or department in terms of cost to provide customer service to both your internal and external customers. It’s also valuable in regard to your supplier relations.
Consider the following three ways vendor self-service is important.
First, in what Forrester has dubbed the age of the customer, your customers expect it. That is, they expect ease in doing business — and this includes AP’s customers.
The digital revolution has changed the way people transact and interact. The assumption is that information is readily available and easy to get. This notion is reinforced by daily experiences from shopping to banking from our mobile devices. Those consumer experiences bleed over into business expectations: “If I can handle all my personal accounts easily myself, why can’t I handle our business accounts that way?”
What’s more, while technology has been revolutionizing the way things are done, generational demographics have been shifting as well, accelerating certain expectations in the workforce. According to Pew Research, in 2015 Millennials are now the largest generation in the work force, with 53.5 million, versus the Gen-Xer’s 52.7 million, and the Baby boomers’ 44.6 million.
The generation that has grown up with mobile devices is now the biggest group in the workforce. If they have no grasp of the seismic shifts that have taken place while they came of age, they have little patience for what strikes them as incompetency, whether in consumer or business mode. Gen-Xers, meanwhile, learned to be fast adapters as they grew up and they keep up. It’s the Boomers, often still making the decisions, who need to understand and respect the change in expectations.
Second, self-service is good for suppliers (as well as for AP’s internal customers). It becomes easy for suppliers to provide the information you need to set them up for payment. And it puts power into their hands, enabling them to find out invoice status or payment date quickly and easily, without having to make a phone call or wait on an email response. They like it.
Third, it helps AP. The 80/20 rule applies in supplier inquiries: 80 percent are easy-to-answer questions about status — simple information inquiries — while 20 percent involve problems of some complexity requiring human involvement. A portal can relieve your staff of that 80 percent of the call and email interruptions, and only have to deal with the 20 percent that really require their attention. That’s a big decrease in distraction, enabling them to remain focused on higher-value work. So a vendor portal saves AP time and money.
When companies enter into a relationship, their people hope for the same thing — that the benefits of doing business can be realized without a lot of friction or pain. Vendor self-service is a means to that important end.
To see how vendor self-service solutions can benefit your operations and your company click here to request more information or call us at (678) 335-5735.