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:
- Has my invoice been received?
- What is the check number or payment number?
- Has my invoice been approved?
What does this tell us? Well if you find that answering customer service inquiries is taking up more of AP’s time than it would like to give to it (and who doesn’t?) there is an important bit of information here.
The most frequently asked questions are straightforward, simple questions, whose answers sit in your system as simple data items. If you are handling these questions manually, you are looking in the system, seeing what’s there, and then relaying it to the customer. This is also true of the “middle of the pack” questions. So a basic “look up and reply” covers 1) the majority of questions and 2) the questions most frequently asked.
The least frequently asked questions, on the other hand, are a bit more complicated. They require more than a single data point in your system. You need to do a bit more work to be able to answer the customer in these cases.
But there is good news in all this if you are looking into automating customer service. Because most questions are easily answered by looking at a piece of data in the system, customers with access to a self-service portal can quickly get their answer themselves. AP does not have to be a “middleman” slowing the process down, not to mention stopping other work to do it.
AP still needs to intervene on more complicated questions like “Why was this short-paid?” or “What’s included in this payment?” But those also happen to be the less frequently asked questions. If AP only has to field those questions and not all the others, AP gains time savings.
The survey also finds, by the way, that 25 percent of the surveyed organizations currently have a vendor self-service portal. The leading reasons they list for implementing an online self-service portal are to “reduce phone calls and emails” and to “handle more productive tasks.” Makes sense.
To see how InvoiceInfo’s vendor self-service solutions can benefit your operations and your company click here to request more information or call (678) 335-5735.