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Have You Called Customer Service Recently?

Why Vendor Self-Service Is Better

“The winner of worst response time to a customer phone call goes to … the Airlines!” With hold times of up to eight hours, airlines are the worst these days, as they try to rebound from the pandemic. But try a bank or a “service provider,” or any number of other businesses, and while it may not be that extreme, you will experience the “wait.” Maybe you will be encouraged to leave a number for a callback. But testimonials from former customer-service call-center workers are not encouraging as they relate “methods” used to “clear the queue.”

And if you hang in there and finally get through, is it to a knowledgeable person who can answer your question or solve your problem? Or do you have to escalate and go back on hold! The oddsmakers at VegasInsider could find a new revenue stream as people wager on hold times.

Of course, there’s always email. At least you’re not sitting there listening to horrible music. You can work on other things and forget about it. Until you suddenly remember it’s been three days and there’s been no reply.

Such common experience is a significant factor in the rise in popularity of customer self-service. Time is a critical and limited asset. Spending it listening to terrible “music” interrupted every 30 seconds by a voice telling you how important your call is to them is hardly endearing. (At least they could play Time.)

A Microsoft survey found that 90 percent of people expect companies to offer online self-service support. But, of course, the success of such support depends on how capably it can address the particular and probable issues.

Self-service in Business-to-Business Relations

That goes for your vendors as well. They are determined but not eager to call procurement or accounts payable (AP). They need information only you have. And typically, neither procurement nor AP is a “call center,” and many staff would rather vendors did not call and interrupt them!

The greatest argument for self-service is that it allows both a vendor and your staff to save time. Self-service won’t answer every need, but it will answer the majority of vendor inquiries. A vendor self-service portal provides vendors secure access to information on the status of invoices and payments. According to surveys by Financial Operations Networks, simple information questions make up to 80 percent of vendor inquiries.

A well-designed portal is secure, available 24/7 and allows vendors to obtain the information they want quickly. Empowered vendors are satisfied with being able to get answers on their schedule without wasting time. P2P staff experience fewer interruptions, and portals can allow a manager to devote less personnel to “customer service” and assign just those best suited to the task.

Effective vendor self-service is efficient and contributes to good vendor relations, which brings significant benefits. For example, good vendor relations can lead to better pricing and terms and a willingness to accommodate sudden supply needs or patience in an occasional cash crunch.

Unlike phone purgatory, self-service is fast, efficient and satisfying. So get your vendors to stop calling and emailing and onto a vendor self-service portal. Implementation can take just a few weeks. In the meantime, put some better music on!

To find out more about vendor self-service portals, contact us.

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