Managing vendor relationships can be a challenge, especially as organizations make more and more demands on their vendors, such as improved pricing, terms and shipment quality. On the back office side, vendors are being asked to invoice using e-invoicing or EDI, to accept payment via ACH, EFT or credit card and to register and work with with third-parties in order to get paid. What can accounts payable do to help improve relationships with their vendors? [unordered_list style="circle"] Pay invoices accurately and on time per the agreed upon terms of the contract or purchase order. In real estate you often hear that the most important thing is location, location, location. In customer service, the key is communication, communication, communication. It is important for AP to communicate with vendors from the very beginning of the relationship and to set expectations upfront. One way to do this is by sending a welcome packet communicating what is required from the vendor to ensure that they get paid accurately and on time. Some items that could be included: Welcome letter and informational packet; vendor registration form; proper channels for resolving problems; who and where to send invoices and what information needs to be on the invoice; policies regarding...

Introduction Is responding to supplier calls and emails taking up valuable staff time?  Studies have shown that dealing with basic supplier inquiries, such as payment status and answering suppliers’ calls and emails can use up to as much as 24% of a staff member’s time. Answering and researching vendor calls and emails is often a time-consuming and labor-intensive task. Whether vendors are calling to ask if an invoice has been received or where it is in the payment process, these calls and emails take staff away from other tasks. In addition, they disrupt what the staff member was doing when they were interrupted, which can cause errors to occur in invoice processing. When the caller is upset that an invoice has not been paid and is unpleasant, productivity and morale suffer. Suppliers can’t be faulted for wanting to know when they will be paid. And, it is usually AP’s job to provide customer service between their company and their suppliers, as well as playing an important role in managing the relationships with those suppliers. But, implementing technology to replace the calls and emails can save costs, headaches and increase productivity. This report will explain how a vendor self-service portal, sometimes called Interactive Web Response (IWR), can answer vendor inquiries...

[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] The cost to answer vendor and internal invoice inquiries can add up quickly. Whether your organization has a dedicated customer service staff or AP team members are balancing customer service duties with other tasks, there is often a big cost to this that is not always included in the calculation of cost per invoice. But, in reality, it can be an expensive cost of processing invoices. Costs include salaries, benefits, taxes, equipment, supplies and training for the customer service team, plus their manager’s time. When you have AP staffers balancing customer service with other tasks, workflow is interrupted and errors can be made. In addition, dealing with difficult vendors can be upsetting and stressful for the AP team member and wreak havoc in the department. By automating customer service via a self-service portal, as much as 80% of your inquiries can be handled online 24/7 and drastically reduce calls, emails, interruptions and productivity drain. If you want to make a case for a vendor self-service portal in your organization, metrics and benchmarking are vital tools to help you make your case.  You need to understand the metrics (where you are currently) and compare those metrics to what other companies...

Are you and your P2P colleagues tired of spending precious time answering invoice inquiry questions from your vendors and internal customers? Are you ready to automate your vendor customer service with a self-service vendor portal application, and start reducing cost and improving productivity? If so, following are 10 questions you should ask when considering a portal: How much IT time and cost will it take to implement the portal? How does data get from your ERP system to the portal? Many portals are tied into ERP systems. The risk is if your portal gets breached, your financial platform could be at risk. How will portal data be kept separate from internal financial systems to ensure security of the data? How does the user access invoice data? Depending on how password and user IDs are used, much of the time saved from not having to answer invoice-related questions could be re-spent answering password-related questions. Realistically, what is the average ramp-up time to get the portal installed and working properly? The key to a successful vendor self-service portal is getting vendors and internal colleagues to adopt it. What has been the experience of other portal users with regard to adoption? What is involved from...

Errors in vendor information increase both cost and risk. True Story How many times have you received a donation request for a worthy cause or the needy? In most cases the donation seeker is a legitimate organization, but fraud is not uncommon. In one actual instance, many companies received a letter, purporting to be from the Red Cross, requesting a donation due to natural disasters that had left the organization unable to provide support and rescue. In many companies this request was approved by an in-house manager, a general ledger code was provided and a donation check was issued and mailed. As it turned out, hundreds of thousands of dollars from well-intentioned companies went to a doctor who had set up post office boxes all over the country to commit this fraud. It took the FBI a long time to catch up with him because he would close the post office boxes in 30 days and move elsewhere. How did so many companies manage to fall for this fraud? [unordered_list style="circle"] Error number 1: No one questioned the validity of the request from what appeared to be the Red Cross; Error number 2: The address was never verified. [/unordered_list] Checking the U.S. Postal Service address verification database or...

When it comes to vendor relationships, it’s not always about paying the invoices correctly and on time. It is vital to build relationships with vendors. Following are some tips for providing best-in-class service to your vendors: [unordered_list style="circle"] When an inquiry has been made either by phone or email, respond to vendors promptly. Set a policy within your AP department to respond within xx hours and stick to it. Strive to respond to all vendor inquiries the same day, even if just to say you are working on the problem. Contact vendors if payment is going to be late. If there is a problem processing an invoice or getting approval and causing the payment to be delayed, let the vendor know up front and tell them when they can expect payment. This helps build the vendor’s trust and confidence in the AP department and your organization and can help to avoid credit holds or holds on needed inventory, etc. Hire people with not only AP skillsets, but also customer service and communication skills. Improving the level of communication in AP can make the daily tasks go more smoothly, as well as raise the perception of AP staffers and their capabilities. And, building AP’s perception and reputation as a business...

The Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) of the U.S. Department of the Treasury administers and enforces economic and trade sanctions based on U.S. foreign policy and national security goals, threats to national security, foreign policy or the economy of the United States. Many of the sanctions are based on United Nations and other international mandates, are multilateral in scope and involve close cooperation with allied governments. Sanctioned organizations, companies and individuals are listed on the Specially Designated Nationals and Blocked Persons (SDN) list and many other lists. Often companies and non-profit organizations are not aware that they are breaking laws by doing business with people or organizations on these lists and don’t check their vendors against them. As a result, many companies and non-profits, large and small, are fined for inadvertently transacting business with U.S. sanctioned organizations. Companies slapped with steep fines — many in the hundreds of thousands of dollars and even multi-million-dollar range — usually had no idea that their supplier was on one of these lists. According to the Treasury Department’s website, in 2017 OFAC levied $2 million in fines against ExxonMobil Corporation for violations of § 589.201 of the Ukraine-Related Sanctions Regulations, 31 C.F.R. part 589 (Ukraine-Related Sanctions Regulations). According...

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...

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...

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.

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