Financial Operations Network | The Secret to Getting Internal Support for Vendor Self-Service Don’t Ignore Human Psychology
To persuade others (IT, F&A, purchasing manager, etc.) to support an idea of yours, e.g. implementing a vendor self-service via portal, you have to consider what’s in it for them.
vendor inquiry self-service support, vendor portal, P2P alliance
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The Secret to Getting Internal Support for Vendor Self-Service

The Secret to Getting Internal Support for Vendor Self-Service

Don’t Ignore Human Psychology

When your spouse or companion comes to you excited about a new idea, do you immediately accept it? Maybe. Or, maybe — if you have celebrated a few anniversaries — you want to know more first. Your first thought is how this is “good for us” or “good for the family” or just “is this good?” Or maybe — for a few of us — candidly the question is, “How is this idea good for me?”

Before we get to meddlin’ too much here, let’s shift the scenario to work. Say a fellow manager of another group puts forward a new idea in a meeting that is great for her team, but is going to impact you and your group. There are a few things you want to know before you sign on, right?

Exactly how is it going to impact you? What’s it going to mean in terms of your staff’s time and effort, and how are they likely to perceive it? How does your support make you look? It makes sense for that other group, but what does IT think? What does the controller think? Does it really make sense for the organization? What if the benefits don’t materialize?

You naturally must ask: What’s in it for us? And what’s in it for me?

The same holds true, of course, when you flip that around — when you are the one with a bright new idea.

If that idea is vendor self-service, there’s good news: you can gain the internal support you need. But you have to show how vendor self-service is going to help the other stakeholders. They want to know what the benefits are for them.

You see the benefits of a vendor self-service program that allows vendors to look up their invoice statuses themselves. You are convinced it’s the way to go[1]. But you realize the decision is not simply up to you. What you’re proposing will to some extent or other impact IT, purchasing, and your boss.

So, you have to know what’s in vendor self-service for them. What’s attractive about it from their particular point of view or responsibility? How will it benefit them to support you in this? They are going to ask what’s in it for them, whether out loud or just to themselves. You want to be ready to tell them.

You’ve already explained to them the benefits of vendor self-service from your and your vendors’ perspectives:

  • 80 percent of vendor inquiries are “easy” questions that despite their simplicity, are taking AP’s time to look up and reply to; vendor self-service means those inquiries go away. That means significant time/cost savings for AP. (For a cost analysis, see Making a Case for Vendor Self-Service Portals.)
  • For vendors, it means easily getting answers right away, when they want them, without having to involve someone else in the process; it saves them having to wait for an answer to an email or voice mail. For the 80 percent of straightforward questions, they get an answer now, when they want it. They’re happy.

So, good for AP and for the vendors!

What about internal stakeholders critical to supporting the idea? What’s the benefit to them, given their particular responsibility? How will it make their lives easier or enhance their position in the organization to support implementation of vendor self-service?

For purchasing, there are a couple of important benefits. First, just as for AP, it will eliminate calls and thereby save time. Not every vendor calls AP with his or her inquiry. Often vendors call their contact in purchasing, who then has to call AP, adding another layer of interaction to get a simple question answered. According to an APP2P Network survey, a median 40% of calls come through purchasing. So, the purchasing manager has staff time and resources at stake as well.

In addition, purchasing wants the company to maintain good relations with vendors to make interactions smoother and provide a degree of leverage in renegotiations. A self-service program that makes vendors happy is a win for purchasing. By supporting you, the purchasing manager solves a couple of problems and looks good to their manager and their staff.

What about IT? It always has a full plate and new initiatives often hit an IT hurdle. But vendor self-service has a very light IT footprint. In the best self-service solutions, all that is required of IT is initial due diligence and security check, then to set up the regular data transfer. That’s it. They get credit for setting up a system that saves the company time and money and they don’t commit to a big, scope-creep development project!

As for AP’s boss, whether controller, finance director, etc., the benefits of establishing vendor self-service to the organization should be readily apparent (show him/her the numbers!) and getting all onboard in order to realize those benefits goes in the “win” column for him or her.

To make this happen, you have to do the homework: track and document the metrics, pull reports and articles together, prepare and make the case. But make the case through the eyes of each of your partners in the decision-making process. Understanding and communicating what’s in it for them will get them onboard. And when you’ve done that, you come away looking good as well!

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


[1] If you’re not convinced, your lack of conviction will cause you to fail to gain the support of others. But the fact is our culture has moved to effective, satisfying self-service in many areas, and the expectation to have that same experience in business settings continues to spread, especially in the younger generations that now make up the vast majority of the work force! For more, see Articles and White Papers under InvoiceInfo’s Resources.



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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