Mary Arnold, Author at Financial Operations Network - Page 5 of 9
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Author: Mary Arnold

What are the most common inquiries you get from your accounts payable (AP) customers? And are those questions the same ones received by other AP departments? InvoiceInfo’s new survey on AP customer service can tell us many things about AP customer service across organizations, including whether our challenges are common or not. One of the many questions this new survey addresses is the kind of inquiries that AP receives. Specifically the survey asked 150 organizations to rank in order of frequency the most common inquiries received from vendors and internal colleagues. The results do not surprise, but it’s always good to get a “reality check” to what we think is so. Two questions vie for the most frequently asked. You probably already know what they are. Narrowly taking the top spot is the question, “Has my invoice been paid?” This is followed closely by, “When will my invoice be paid?” These two questions led all others by a very significant margin. On the flip side, the least frequently asked question is “Why was the invoice short-paid?” Asked more often than the short-pay question but less frequently than all others is: “Which invoices are covered on the payment?” Three questions rank in the middle scores between “most” and “least” frequent: ...

Survey Says … A day in the life of procure-to-pay is seldom dull. Perhaps one of its livelier aspects is interaction of the payables team with its “customers,” i.e. those whom accounts payable serves internally and externally. Payables customer service is a necessary part of the job, and depending on a number of variables, can be very challenging. A new survey from InvoiceInfo captures the current state of affairs in accounts payable customer service. The report looks at a number of questions and issues involved in customer service. The identification by respondents of the challenges of customer service is interesting not because it reveals something startlingly new, but because it provides a picture of the current state of affairs. That state is one that will be familiar to anyone with much experience in payables. The survey question on challenges allowed for respondents to write responses in their own words. Quantifying the responses, familiar issues emerge. The results can be divided into two types of answers — those that addressed the larger context of the procure-to-pay (P2P) process, and those focused specifically on customer-service issues related to payables. Taking the former first, roughly half of respondents described some P2P process issue as being their biggest customer service...

Do your experiences as individual consumers affect your expectations back at the office in your business-to-business (B2B) interactions? It seems likely that they would — once you’ve experienced a certain level of service in whatever context, your expectations undergo a reset and the bar of expectation rises across the board. Indeed as reported in Accounts Payable Customer Service and Vendor Relations in the Age of Self-Service, e-commerce expert Scot Wingo coined the term “Amazon Effect” to describe the ever-rising level of customer expectations. A 2017 study brought further confirmation. The study B2B Customer Experience: Winning in the Moments that Matter by KPMG Nunwood, a subsidiary of KPMG, focuses on the B2B customer experience. Customer experience has become increasingly important in business. As the report’s executive summary observes, it is “becoming the prime source of competitive differentiation.” One of the findings of the study is that indeed the rise of consumer expectations for customer experience does spill over from the business-to-consumer (B2C) world to the business-to-business (B2B) world. The study includes a look at the phenomenon of “consumerization,” where consumers carry their continually escalating expectations from the B2C world to their B2B relationships. Whether consciously or unconsciously, people served well in their consumer experiences bring higher...

Such is the reaction of more than a third of participants from ages 18 to 65 in a customer service survey conducted by The Center for Generational Kinetics and Aspect Software. Rather a severe judgment! Granted the study Consumer Experience Revolution 2015: New Research on Millennials and Technology Shows Customer Service Is About to Change Forever was a consumer survey on customer service. But as is argued in Accounts Payable Customer Service and Vendor Relations in the Age of Self-Service, positive experiences in our private (consumer) lives tend to transfer higher expectations over to our business lives. Hey, if Amazon knows exactly what I ordered, why don’t you? (Did you know that UPS now shows you, on an online map real-time, the location of the truck bringing your package to you?) So it is that accounts payable’s customer service faces high expectations in its interactions with its internal and external customers as a result of those customers’ experiences elsewhere in their lives. The survey referenced above, repeated in 2016 and 2017, looks for generational differences. Businesses are trying to learn to serve customers across different generational groups. But the general dissatisfaction with customer service is trans-generational! Patience with waiting for customer service is getting...

A Wizard to Help You Help Vendors Help You! Getting a tax ID from new vendors is an important part of vendor onboarding. Best practice is to get it up front. And the best way for the vendor to provide its tax ID and tax classification is to complete and submit it to you on an IRS form with the requisite information, namely IRS form W-9. Or is it the 8233? Or W-8BEN, or the W-8BEN-E? Or maybe the W-8ECI, … EXP, … or IMY? Oh my! It’s not surprising that your new vendor might not know which form to fill out for you. For that matter, do you know which form is the correct one? If the vendor is a U.S. entity subject to payment reporting, you probably know they should submit a W-9. But if the vendor is a non-resident alien, should they complete a W-8BEN or an 8233, for example? (You are clear on the uses of each, right?) And what if they are a foreign vendor? How likely are they to know what form to use? Do you know which form they should use? (Have you ever had to send back the form they provided because it was the wrong...

A new survey conducted jointly by InvoiceInfo and IRSCompliance reveals what companies are doing in their vendor onboarding process and how they’re doing it. The good news is that a majority is doing at least some of the right things. Fewer, however, are doing those things right, or at least in the most efficient and error-reducing ways. The full survey is available, but here are a few results highlighting some key responsibilities of vendor onboarding and methods. In most instances, a vendor must be added to the vendor master file in order to get paid. But consider what that also means: once in the master file, a vendor can be paid! Checks can be written or electronic payments issued to that vendor. Adding a new vendor to the master file is therefore consequential. With this in mind, there is some positive news in the survey. A majority of organizations — 54 percent – require multiple levels of approval for onboarding new vendors. Further, 63 percent of survey respondents validate new vendors prior to purchasing from them. Still, that means more than a third are purchasing before validating, though perhaps not necessarily paying. The news is a bit better on the tax front: 91 percent of...

If your accounts payable department wants a motto, it might go with Semper Vigilo — “always vigilant.” Threats to businesses abound and given that accounts payable issues payments, it is a prime target for criminal perpetrators of all kinds. In addition to prevention of myriad fraud schemes, AP must also ensure information protection as well as avoid unwitting payments to sanctioned entities. This, of course, involves compliance with the U.S. Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Asset Control (OFAC). OFAC keeps track of and enforces U.S. sanctions on countries, entities, and persons — including drug traffickers, WMD dealers, dirty diamond traders, organized crime syndicates and, of course, terrorist organizations. Sanctions aim to enforce U.S. policy, prevent criminal activity and combat terrorism. (It’s a real thing — see one shared services director’s story in Avoiding the Men in Black.) You’re familiar. And you’re compliant, right? Or do you just think you are? How are you managing your compliance? It’s not enough to run your list against OFAC’s SDN list once in a while, or even (you thought of this) to check your new vendors against the list. Of course, you are adding new vendors all the time. Those need to be checked and you’re doing...

The New Year has begun. And as generally happens this time of year in the northern hemisphere, it’s cold. Along with the cold comes colds and flu (apparently worse this year than usual). Winter weather and the cold-and-flu season can mean snow days or sick days — lost time just as the year gets rolling. And AP’s time is precious! Suppose you could save time? Suppose you could make better use of your time? There’s at least one way you can. You know that the once-heralded notion that productive people are good at multi-tasking is beyond suspect. Research is finding not only does doing multiple things at once slow you down, it lowers your IQ and possibly your EQ (emotional intelligence quotient)! And while the resulting mental impairment was thought to be temporary, according to Travis Bradberry, author of Emotional Intelligence 2.0, new research suggests the damage may not be temporary! [1] Yikes! By the way, it’s not new knowledge that multi-tasking is inefficient. More than 2,000 years ago Publilius Syrius said, “To do two things at once is to do neither.” We work better and smarter when we focus on one thing at a time. In accounts payable, there are a lot of tasks...

It’s December – the season of lights, the season of giving. That sometimes means gifts from suppliers who want to say, “Thanks for your business.” But suppose the circumstances were switched? Suppose the tradition was for accounts payable to give gifts to suppliers? What kind of gift might suppliers appreciate? Well, imagine a credit and collections group in their last meeting of the year. They’re just wrapping up when one of them says, “Hey, do any of you send gifts to your customers in December?” A few comments are made in the affirmative and the negative when a supplier named Ted speaks up: “I know what gift I’d like to receive from our customers. To be paid faster throughout the next year!” “Ha!” says Harry with a roll of his eyes. “Who wouldn’t?” A third supplier, Elaine, warming to the idea of receiving a gift as well as giving one, observes: “Well, what we’d really like is an easier and faster way to find out if the customer got our invoice, and when we will be getting paid. You know – self-service. A way that avoids our having to call and leave messages, or send emails and not know if they got them...

Vendor Information Collection and Validation As she crossed the company parking lot early one morning, the director of shared services saw them. Men in black. Two of them. As she neared the building entrance, they approached and addressed her by name. She was afraid this day would come, and it finally had. They flashed their federal credentials, and she welcomed them up to her office. They were there to talk about a payment she had authorized. As it turned out, the payee was on a sanctions list of the Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the U.S. Treasury Department, and the SSC director and her company were in trouble. This really happened. So maybe you’ve heard of OFAC’s sanctions lists? The U.S. government has lists of individuals, organizations, and countries with whom it is illegal to do business, including narcotics traffickers, diamond smugglers, rogue regimes, terrorist organizations, et cetera. Various lists are aggregated and published, and transactions monitored by OFAC. If you run afoul of the list, it’s going to cost you. Banks, in their compliance, effectively screen payments for the government. They’ll find out if you slip. So what are you doing about it? Are you screening your supplier list? The SSC...

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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