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

As the former manager of an 85-person accounts payable shared services center, I know first hand that AP’s reputation often gets tarnished for problems that were not caused by AP. Communicating and consistently delivering results that meet realistic and attainable expectations though, can go a long way toward building and maintaining a powerful shield to protect AP’s reputation. 1. Establish realistic attainable standards [unordered_list style="circle"] How do you define great AP customer service? What does the deliverable look like? What are your organization’s circumstances and culture, and what resources are available that you can access to deliver service? Do the available resources support customer service levels that meet the definition of great AP customer service you stated in 1.a. above? Create service level standards that can be sustained by the available resources. [/unordered_list] 2. Set expectations by communicating your standards to your vendors with enough frequency and targeting to get through the clutter they experience. [unordered_list style="circle"] Terms Invoice submission, processing cycle and workflow considerations Payment processes and options [/unordered_list] 3. Hire right [unordered_list style="circle"] Look for the right skill sets and remember: the skill sets required for a great AP processor are not the same as for a great customer service person Look for attitude Look for coach-ability [/unordered_list] 4. Prepare [unordered_list style="circle"] Train — make sure your team understands the AP process and organization policies and is...

Self-service has become a key initiative in customer service in nearly every industry. We see it in booking hotel and air travel, online banking, human resources, employee expense management and online shopping. A study by Aspect Software and the Center for Generational Kinetics found that “across every generation, online customer service is currently the most preferred type of customer service.” The study reports that for “Millennials,” from the age of 19-37, the preference for online self-service is even stronger. In addition, the study found self-service that resolves a customer’s issue can improve a company’s reputation. The study also showed that “65% of Americans say they feel good about themselves and the company when they can solve a problem without talking to customer service.” Self-service applications empower customers by removing many of the barriers to engaging in transactions. With self-service, customers are able to transact business when and where they want — not only from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM, Monday through Friday. And, from the business perspective, self-service applications do the job at a greatly reduced cost. So, can accounts payable join the self-service movement to empower its customers, improve their experiences and cut costs? The answer is yes, with a vendor self-service portal. Rather...

For many of us, it doesn’t seem that long ago that if we wanted to plan a vacation we called a travel agent. Or, if we wanted to buy a new book we walked into Border’s Bookstore. Or, if we had a bank transaction we walked into a bank, stood in line and talked with a teller. Since the prevalence of the Internet, all that is changing. Many people now book their travel online directly with the airline or hotel or on Expedia, Travelocity or a multitude of other online travel sites. And, think how much money airlines are saving with their customers checking in online before they leave home or at check-in kiosks at the airport. Books are often purchased on Amazon or downloaded directly to a tablet or reader. If you want to deposit checks or make withdrawals from your bank, you can do it all through ATMs and avoid “live” tellers completely. Many grocery stores even have a self-service checkout line where customers scan their own merchandise and pay via credit card to avoid the wait in lines. Customer self-service is a win-win for everyone. The organization saves money by not having to hire people to answer phones and respond to emails. Customers get what they want...

If you are like most accounts payable professionals, you are constantly challenged to introduce automation and other best practices to reduce invoice-processing costs, cut head count and improve productivity. While many AP operations are considering various types of AP automation to achieve their goals, most AP departments do not have vendor self-service portals at the top of their automation to-do lists. In fact in a recent survey, 89% of companies reported that they didn’t track how much it costs to answer invoice payment status inquiries. The problem may be bigger than is generally realized. InvoiceInfo customers have been able to reduce headcount by as much as nine employees and add real dollars to the bottom line through the implementation of vendor self-service portals. And, the issue is expected to become even greater. According to a recent article published in The New York Times, “Big Companies Pay Later, Squeezing Their Suppliers,” “a growing number of the world’s largest … companies are asking their suppliers to give them as much as four months to pay their bills — even though they typically require payment from their own customers in 30 days.” If this approach becomes widely accepted, the volume of inquiries received by...

[vc_row][vc_column width='2/3'] Over the last several years, vendors' interactions with AP have changed significantly. One of the results of this change is increasing vendor expectations of accounts payable departments. Among other things, vendors want the ability to receive and deliver information now. They don't want to call or email AP departments for invoice inquiries to be put on hold or have their calls returned days later. They want answers immediately. They don't want to fill out paper onboarding documents or fax back paper W-8s and W-9s. In addition to wanting immediate service from AP, today's vendor representatives do not hesitate to contact senior management or post on social media to complain about relatively minor issues, often caused by the vendors themselves. Watch this information-packed program to help you: [unordered_list style="circle"] Understand today's vendors’ expectations and how to manage them Learn how to create service level agreements that work for AP Develop tools to communicate more effectively with vendors Learn how to deal with difficult personalities Learn how to deal with difficult personalities Discover qualities to look for when staffing vendor-facing positions — it may surprise you Unravel the mysteries of vendor communication metrics [/unordered_list] In some cases vendor expectations are out of control, but remember the customer...

Here are some specific tips from survey respondents who were asked to share their best ideas for how to maintain great relationships with vendors and other P2P customers in regards to payables: [unordered_list style="circle"] Give it your best and always make internal and external customers as happy as possible. Get it right the first time. Resolve issues in a timely manner. Provide accurate information on a timely basis. Communicate — let them know what is happening and also help them understand payables processes and how those interact with other systems/processes. Be responsive, respectful and accountable. Always have a great policy. Always have an open relationship. Always tell the truth about the status of payment. Always understand you are dealing with money. Process requests and invoices timely. Provide excellent service and educate vendors and internal customers about policies and procedures. Respond promptly and courteously. Relationships are built on trust and honesty. For internal customers, have regular meetings to discuss process enhancements and educate on AP procedures. For vendors, utilize self-service portal tools. Pay on time. Be responsive and timely to their inquiries. Communicate pertinent info timely. Most important factors are pay timely and accurately; capture all available discounts. Provide internal customers with...

[vc_row][vc_column width='2/3'] Self-service is a key initiative in nearly every industry. From booking hotel and air travel to online banking and shopping, it’s a win-win for everyone and has become a way of life for all of us. Self-service gives us the service we want quickly and easily without having to spend time on the phone listening to music while waiting for the next available representative. By the time you call an organization and answer all the questions they ask in the phone tree, you hope you can get to the correct person who can help with your needs. And, in the meantime, you may get redirected to someone else and hope that you aren’t disconnected. Or, have you sent emails to organizations asking for help only to find them unanswered? Or, the answers you do get go to your junk mail? Self-service lets you complete your transaction in a fraction of the time spent waiting for a live person or an email response, and it’s hassle free. So, can accounts payable join the self-service age to empower its customers, improve their experiences and cut costs? Many AP managers say yes! Instead of vendors calling or emailing accounts payable and buyers to find out if the invoice has been received, processed,...

[vc_row css_animation="" row_type="row" use_row_as_full_screen_section="no" type="full_width" angled_section="no" text_align="left" background_image_as_pattern="without_pattern"][vc_column width="2/3"][vc_column_text]Now, suppliers with questions about invoice receipt and payment status can find the answers they need on the Web — without the need to interrupt valuable AP staff time! A self-service application can also help streamline your supplier onboarding. Watch this webinar to learn how a vendor self-service portal lets you free up your staff for more important tasks by transferring the handling of vendor invoice and payment inquiries and onboarding to a secure, self-service, online location where vendors can serve themselves — quickly and easily. Watch this informative 60-minute webinar to explore how a self-service vendor portal can help you: [unordered_list style="circle"] Provide timely responses to vendors questions at a fraction of the cost of manual customer service Streamline vendor onboarding — a win-win for AP and vendors Have your portal up and running quickly and inexpensively without large IT or ERP investments Reduce the number of telephone calls, emails and faxes regarding invoice receipt and payment status that your AP staff handles Improve vendor customer service so the supplier gets immediate response without having to spend time on hold, leave voice mails or follow up Service all of your accounts payable customers 24/7...

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.


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.


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!


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.


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.


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.


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.


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!


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.


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.