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More Invoice Inquiries on the Horizon – AP Should Prepare Now

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 AP would be expected to increase as vendors press for payment.

This is supported in a study by The Accounts Receivable Network which indicates that invoice inquiries will grow in the coming years as accounts receivable departments are tasked with inquiring earlier in the cycle to gain approval and payment of outstanding invoices.

A recent survey by The Accounts Payable Network reported that 60% of an AP department’s customer service calls and emails come from vendors while 40% are from internal customers. Vendor communications with non-AP internal customers actually affect productivity in an organization exponentially. When vendors call buyers, purchasing representatives or requisitioners, they negatively impact your internal customer’s productivity which shrinks by fielding the vendor’s emails and calls, and again when making the follow up inquiry to AP, and yet again when responding to the vendor. AP’s productivity falls as a result of the internal customer’s call, the research and the follow up.

Many organizations have solved other types of service delivery problems by utilizing self-service options, such as online banking, pre-flight check-in, express shipment tracking and online hotel and airline sites. It is becoming best in class and expected, especially with millennials who live in the online world.

It is critically important to serve AP’s customers — be they internal colleagues or vendors. A self-service vendor portal can improve your customers’ experience while reducing cost. With inquiries on the rise, might now be the perfect time to explore if a vendor self-service portal is right for your organization?

To see how InvoiceInfo’s self-service solutions can benefit your operations and your company click here to request more information or call (678) 335-5735.


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