Vendor Inquiries/Self-Service Archives - Financial Operations Network
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Vendor Inquiries/Self-Service

When a vendor does not receive an expected payment, they contact you to find out what’s up. If payment has been late in the past, many vendors will not wait until payment is due. They’ll call to confirm that you got their invoice, or to ask when to expect payment (putting you on record). There are many reasons for vendor inquiries. But there is a correlation between imperfect processes and vendor calls. The most commonly identified challenge to good “customer” service is some aspect of the procure-to-pay (P2P) process itself, says Financial Operations Networks’ 2020 Accounts Payable Customer Service Survey. Get the Big Picture, then Drill Down Vendor calls and emails can point you to problems in your procure-to-pay process. Pay attention to the frequency and type of inquiries you are receiving. Don’t just answer the individual questions. Step back and look at the big picture. It’s tough to do when you are scrambling just to get all the inquiries addressed. But sometimes you have to push back the urgent to focus on the important. What is behind those questions? Have you got a gap, or gaps, in your P2P process? Seek out the root cause of the problems and address them. Maybe it’s sequencing. As...

Disruption happens. And when it does, expectations are replaced by uncertainty. In the case of the Coronavirus, that uncertainty has no apparent endpoint. The consequence is tremendous anxiety. If you are a leader, your staff looks to you for direction. Leaders must manage the anxiety that can lead to bad decisions or behaviors[1], and decreased productivity. In the aftermath of 9/11, businesses realized the importance of disaster recovery and business continuity planning. Many companies without it did not survive. The difficulty of such planning is that it cannot see that for which it is supposed to prepare. Planners draw up plans against best-guess scenarios such as fires, floods and earthquakes. Now those scenarios include terrorist attacks and mass shootings. It's a grim job, and planners labor in the face of the unknown. But who anticipated the possibility of a pandemic shutdown? Very few. Nine months in, there is still a lot of uncertainty. The end is not yet in sight. What can leaders, whose crystal balls are no better than their staffs, do to manage the anxiety and keep things moving? How do you provide direction, inspiration and hope? You don’t have all the answers. But in the face of the uncertainty, you have...

Are you looking to solve a problem through technology? When shopping for IT solutions, the first step is to figure out what functionality you really need. Having identified the problem, it is often helpful to talk through solutions with colleagues in your own and other organizations. Talking to vendors also can be helpful—they have expertise worth tapping. Just be clear about the "discovery" phase versus the shopping phase. When you have a clear idea of what you need and have identified vendors that might offer the solution, here are seven things to think about: full cost, ease of implementation, user accessibility, security, flexibility, scalability, and support. Full cost: Understand how the solution is priced. Don’t ask, “What’s the cost?” but “What’s the total cost? What comes standard and what is extra?” Don’t get surprised by hidden costs. Implementation: How long will it take to implement? What will it require of your internal IT department? What will it require of your staff? Of other users? What is the average ramp-up time to get it working properly? User accessibility: How easy is it to access, and how intuitive is it to use? What kind of training is necessary? Who will handle that? Depending on...

Working from home is challenging productivity. Several factors play into that challenge. Leading issues are children, space, privacy, lack of time boundaries, and importantly, the lack of professional social connection. Stanford University Economist Nicholas Bloom, a noted work-from-home advocate, expects a productivity decline in the large shift to remote work, at least for a time. He also posits a dip in new ideas tied to the lack of interaction with other workers. Bloom is quoted by Adam Gorlick in a Stanford News article as saying in-person collaboration is necessary for creativity and innovation. Several surveys indicate productivity and morale challenges to those who have suddenly found themselves clearing space to work from home. A survey by the Global Association of Risk Professionals (GARP) found that despite companies’ adaptions and successes in shifting to a remote workforce, respondents report problems. They’re working more but feeling less productive and engaged. Hours are irregular, and workers are feeling stressed. IT workers are an apparent exception, according to a survey by Sectigo. “… nearly 50% of those polled reported that productivity had increased since they were asked to [work from home] WFH, while 35% "feel it's stayed consistent," and only 16% noted an actual decrease in productivity.” But...

Statistical Law Can Uncover Fraud Do you know what happened 140, 82, and 25 years ago? No, not other pandemics!  Those are the numbers of years ago a mathematician and statisticians first discovered, then rediscovered and finally proved a statistical law that has fraud-busting application to accounts payable. The mathematician (and astronomer) was Simon Newcomb. In 1881 he published a paper that showed that in a group of naturally occurring numbers, contrary to assumption, not all numerals (1, 2, … 9) appear with the same frequency in the first digit place. Rather, lower numerals occur more frequently and higher numerals less frequently. In fact, the numeral “1” occurs 30 percent of the time, whereas the numeral “4” occurs about 10 percent of the time, and “9” only 4.5 percent of the time. Some of you have heard of this before, thanks to the statistician that got involved in our story nearly 60 years after Newcomb. His name is Frank Benford. The phenomenon, called the “law of anomalous numbers” or “significant digit law” is more commonly known as Benford’s Law. In 1938, Benford built on Newcomb’s observations. He demonstrated that the frequency of each numeral appearing in the first digit position, and in the...

Working successfully from home requires more than secure Wi-Fi, a VPN and video conferencing. And younger workers are finding it more difficult than older ones. That is according to a new survey by Engine Insights, commissioned by Smartsheets. When the workforce suddenly shifted from working on-site to remote locations, organizations first focused on getting everyone set up with access to the systems, software, data and connections they needed to continue working. Security, as InvoiceInfo and VendorInfo have discussed, is a crucial but challenging aspect of that. But accessing necessary systems, software and files only supplies the workers with their usual tools. They need more than that. According to the survey, 75 percent of the overall remote workforce “feels less connected,” these days. And there are some generational differences of which to take note. That sense of disconnection is higher among the younger generations, with 82 percent of Generation Z and 81 percent of Millennials saying so. Sixty percent feel less informed and again, younger workers feel it most: 74 percent of Gen Z and 66 percent of Millennials, vs. 53 percent of Gen X and 50 percent of Baby Boomers. And though workers feel disconnected and out of the loop, they nevertheless say time spent...

Overnight, working remotely became "a thing." Essential industries were allowed to keep operating, but everyone else had to stay home. In 2020, fortunately, many could stay home and still work. Working remotely has been less easy for accounts payable. Even companies with a high degree of automation still have some paper coming in. Others are less automated. And checks, according to a 2019 AFP study, still account for more that 40 percent of supplier payments....

The value of electronic versus manual procure-to-pay processing has never been more evident. And the notion of “touchless” processing takes on new meaning in the current context. As people and organizations look at “opening back up,” many are facing the reality that opening up cannot mean returning to things as they were back in January. What we’ve succeeded in doing is getting a handle on the virus to the extent that medical services and facilities are not now facing a whelming flood. They’re more confident that they can handle the flattened rate of those in need of serious care to beat the virus. That’s all. The virus is still here. And every time we think we know who’s vulnerable and who’s not, some new manifestation pops up and surprises. It’s still unclear how the arrival of summer may affect the virus, and predictions of recurrence in the fall are not encouraging. Already Germany is seeing a rise in R factor to 1.1—it needs to be at 1 or below, i.e. each infected person is only infecting one or less other people, to keep the spread in check. But back to touchless processing. The fact is, “touch” is not the only concern in transmission....

[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][vc_column_text] It’s January 22nd — Do you know where your New Year’s Resolutions are? A startling story in the news last week declared that people have already given up on their resolutions. What? Aren’t we just getting started?  According to a 2019 survey by a social network for athletes (admittedly, a select audience), January 12th is the day folks begin to lose steam in pursuit of their resolutions. Take heart though—not everyone quits that early, and depending on the study, more than the oft-repeated eight percent can see it through to success! Failure to keep resolutions does seem to be something of an annual national pastime.  More than 150 years ago Mark Twain wrote: “New Year's Day--Now is the accepted time to make your regular annual good resolutions. Next week you can begin paving hell with them as usual…. Thirty days from now, we shall have cast our reformation to the winds and gone to cutting our ancient shortcomings considerably shorter than ever. We shall also reflect pleasantly upon how we did the same old thing last year about this time.” Indeed for some, making resolutions is a game played for fun on New Year’s Eve or New...

We're going to take a break from our usual focus on vendor inquiry self-service, vendor onboarding, compliance and vendor relations. Instead, here are a few fun facts for the busiest shopping (and shipping) season of the year. (Have you finished your holiday shopping?) Can you name the top ten retailers? Here they are, according to the National Retail Federation’s Stores.org: 10. Albertsons (Boise, ID)   9. Lowe's Companies (Mooresville, NC)   8. Target (Minneapolis, MN)   7. CVS Health Corporation (Woonsocket, RI)   6. Walgreens Boots Alliance (Deerfield, IL)   5. The Home Depot (Atlanta, GA)   4. Costco (Issaquah, WA)   3. Amazon (Seattle, WA)   2. The Kroger Co. (Cincinnati, OH)   1. Wal-Mart (Bentonville, AK) You probably guessed number one. How many of the others did you get? (Who knew two drug stores place ahead of Target?) Of course these days, a lot of shopping happens from the coziness of our own couches. Online shopping continues to grow. So who are the leading e-commerce companies? Here are the top five, according to CreatingaWebSiteToday.com, a website devoted to helping you build a successful website:   5. The Home Depot   4. Wal-Mart   3. Apple (Cupertino, CA)   2. EBay (San Jose, CA)   1. Amazon Guessing number one was easy, but did you guess number 3? Number 5? Of course, with all that online activity, retailers need to get the stuff to...

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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