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Improving Customer Satisfaction in Accounts Payable

Introduction

We’re all familiar with the statement that “what’s measured improves”.  Internal and external customers for the Accounts Payable process are willing and able to provide detailed information about problems that exist from their perspective, but many companies don’t have good methods or techniques in place to track these issues and related corrective actions.  Including customer service/satisfaction in the mix of required measurements can pay great dividends, including driving improvements in cost and productivity.  It’s all connected, so companies that ignore customer service/satisfaction do so at their own peril. 

Company Experience

A PeercastTM discussion in our Accounts Payable (P2P) research area featured a large global company with over $15B in annual revenue discussing the benefits they were able to realize by increasing their focus on customer service and customer satisfaction. 

Here are some of the root causes of poor customer services that were identified:

  • A gap in process knowledge within the customer service team
  • Multiple agents responding to follow up emails
  • Using drafted email templates to when a custom approach was needed
  • Not understanding the complexity of the inquiry
  • Internal customers who were not aware of standard processes
  • Vendors who were unable to use the Taulia portal
  • Problems with getting documents for vendor setup/maintenance
  • No auditing of emails or calls to identify opportunities for improvement

Improvement measures taken included:

  • Implemented a defect analysis framework
  • Conducted process training with response center employees
  • Conducted training for internal teams who generated high volumes of internal inquiries
  • Created a Taulia user guide for members
  • Started sending customer service surveys to internal and external customers

The results of these efforts were impressive with more than an 80% reduction in helpdesk inquiries within four years.  For details, Peeriosity members are encouraged to sign into the members’ area to view the complete presentation and listen to the recorded Peercast.

iPollingTM Results Review

A recent Peeriosity poll created using the iPollingTM technology provides insight to the emphasis Peeriosity member companies place on customer service and customer satisfaction in Accounts Payable, and their overall satisfaction with their ability to measure customer service and customer satisfaction.  The first poll question looked at the emphasis placed on customer service/satisfaction. While no company reported there isn’t much of an emphasis on customer service/satisfaction, only 21% indicated that customer service/satisfaction gets equal emphasis with measures of cost and productivity.  79% reported that while customer service/satisfaction is important, cost and productivity get more attention.

Accounts Payable Customer Satisfaction Pie Chart

The second poll question then asked about the overall satisfaction with the ability to measure customer service/satisfaction.  Only 23% reported that they were either satisfied or very satisfied, with 54% reporting they were neutral on the topic.  Of the remaining options, 8% indicated that they were dissatisfied and 15% indicated they do not currently measure customer satisfaction as a performance measure.

Accounts Payable Satisfaction Poll

Here are some of the comments from members:

  • Currently, we can only measure the satisfaction of internal clients, not external suppliers.
  • We do not have a formalized method of measuring customer service satisfaction.
  • Difficult to answer. As we manage the team to improve productivity and effectiveness, customer service and satisfaction are important. The business wants to make sure the vendors are happy, but we really don’t have a way to measure.
  • Typically, we think “and”, which includes all three (cost, productivity, and user experience). Many cost and productivity metrics improve with superior Customer Service and satisfaction, e.g., fewer tickets when platforms have high user experience. We leverage Net Promoter Score (NPS) to measure.

Closing Summary

Having a balanced-score card approach to measurement is important, since the performance dimensions of cost, quality, productivity, and customer service/satisfaction are all interrelated.  Getting to the root cause of customer service/satisfaction issues and addressing identified issues can have a dramatic impact on performance across all measurement categories.

What emphasis does your company place on customer service/satisfaction in Accounts Payable?  If you’re currently not happy with how you measure customer service/satisfaction, what steps can you take to make improvements?

Who are your peers and how are you collaborating with them?

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“PeercastsTM” are private, professionally facilitated webcasts that feature leading member company experiences on specific topics as a catalyst for broader discussion.  Access is available exclusively to Peeriosity member company employees, with consultants or vendors prohibited from attending or accessing discussion content.  Members can see who is registered to attend in advance, with discussion recordings, supporting polls, and presentation materials online and available whenever convenient for the member.  Using Peeriosity’s integrated email system, Peer MailTM, attendees can easily communicate at any time with other attending peers by selecting them from the list of registered attendees. 

“iPollingTM” is available exclusively to Peeriosity member company employees, with consultants or vendors prohibited from participating or accessing content. Members have full visibility to all respondents and their comments. Using Peeriosity’s integrated email system, Peer MailTM, members can easily communicate at any time with others who participated in iPollingTM.

Peeriosity members are invited to log into www.peeriosity.com to join the discussion and connect with Peers.   Membership is for practitioners only, with no consultants or vendors permitted.  To learn more about Peeriosity, click here.

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