Business buyers and sellers have personal lives, and their experiences as consumers have set up expectations in their professional worlds. Modern technology has led to a redefining of customer experience, which has become central to business transformation and a differentiator for success.
All this began with technology-based companies like Amazon setting a very high bar in customer experience. And both your purchasing department personnel and your vendors’ personnel have developed expectations based on their Amazon and other similar experiences. They bring these expectations to the workplace, which accounts payable must recognize. Meeting or failing to meet expectations affects vendor relations.
Salesforce Survey Says
A major survey by Salesforce finds that expectations among business buyers exceed those of consumers. In the Salesforce study, 81 percent of business buyers say that the experience a seller provides is as important as its products and services (versus 79 percent of consumers).
And 69 percent of business buyers “expect an Amazon-like business buying experience.” In contrast to this, however, only 27% of business buyers say companies generally excel at meeting their standards for an overall experience. So there’s room for improvement!
Vendors, like buyers, have the same experiences as consumers and bring the same kind of expectations to business. For example, when vendors interact with accounts payable, their expectations are influenced by their experiences elsewhere.
Expectations in Vendor Customer Service
What are the expectations? It’s the ease of doing business. That means minimal friction in the procure-to-pay and order-to-cash processes.
Minimal friction means processes are clear, straightforward and work smoothly. It also means customer or vendor service is accessible and pleasant. And it means self-service capabilities that allow customers or vendors to find information quickly and easily for themselves whenever possible.
Besides Amazon, consumers have online banking and a plethora of other apps to meet their needs and interests quickly and easily. However, when consumers are at work, as business persons, they’d like that same availability of information in the business context.
What Vendors Want
In the case of vendors, they are often anxious to know if you received their invoice, paid their invoice or when you have scheduled to pay it. That information resides in your system, but in many cases, it requires interaction with an accounts payable staffer to find out. And that often means delay thanks to phone or email “tag.” It’s not frictionless.
However, vendors don’t have to call or email AP if the customer has a vendor portal with up-to-date information. Instead, a vendor can go to the vendor portal and, unassisted, access the information needed. That’s “no-friction” service. Vendor portals save both customers and vendors time and hassle.
Not every vendor question is a simple one. With a portal in place, there is still a need for good “customer” (vendor) support via other channels, with responsive personnel. But vendors can probably get answers to 80 percent of their questions for themselves through a portal.
That makes them happy and contributes to the overall relationship experience, making them likely to maintain it. And where the vendor relationship is excellent, it also tends to be very favorable to the customer organization.
Enhance Reputation Along with Vendor Relations
A good relationship also avoids reputational damage caused by “negative reviews” going out over various social media and other sites. However, the study did have a fascinating finding countering the prevailing view that unhappy customers are more likely to share their unhappiness than happy customers.
The study found that while 62 percent of customers share bad experiences, 72 percent share good experiences. So, there’s a positive incentive to do well, not merely a negative one.
A portal is an opportunity to satisfy your vendors’ expectations and enhance relations. Make it easy for your vendors to get what they want and need.
InvoiceInfo has an app for that—to find out more about vendor self-service portals, contact us.