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Eliminating Vendor Phone Inquiries in Accounts Payable

Introduction

Once considered the primary method for vendors to communicate with Accounts Payable, providing phone support for vendor inquiries has fallen out of favor as other methods have become both more efficient and less costly.  Even with the most sophisticated phone systems where basic requests for payment status can be answered by a chatbot, providing quick access to a live person can be costly and is often an unnecessary level of vendor support.

Select this link for a separate article on the topic “Implementing a Global Accounts Payable Help Desk”.

iPolling Results Review

A recent Peeriosity poll examined how Peeriosity member companies receive inquiries from vendors, and the status of efforts, if any, to eliminate phone support for vendors.

The poll results indicate that for 75% of Peeriosity member companies, email has the highest volume of inquiries and is the preferred method, with an additional 10% indicating that email is the highest volume of inquiries, however it is not the preferred method.  Only 10% reported that the phone has the highest volume of inquiries, with no responses suggesting inquiries using the phone was the preferred method.  Here are the details:

The next polling question asked about the status of efforts to eliminate phone support for vendors.  Interestingly, 32% of companies haven’t considered eliminating phone support, with an additional 24% considering the idea of doing so.  For those considering this approach, 29% have implemented for all vendors, 5% have implemented for most vendors, and 5% have implemented for some vendors, with an additional 5% who have approved this approach, but they have not yet implemented.

A few of the comments from members include:

  • All vendor inquiries are by email. When we implemented Helpdesk there was no phone support built. We also use a vendor portal where vendors can see invoice and payment status, but there is no interaction. We are trying to drive vendors to this portal for basic self-service questions.
  • Approximately 70% of all queries are now self service via the portal & an automated BOT. The remaining 30% filter through to a ticket via the live chat, and/or place your question with a reply to follow via email. Phone calls are only for critical cases where the query is extensive, so we propose a time and date, and one of the agents will contact the vendor, vs spending ages on the chat.
  • Queries from vendors are addressed to those who have direct interface with the vendors, not to the back office. Hence, we receive mostly all inquiries after escalation via e-mail.
  • We receive inquiries from our Suppliers via email or a portal (webform) that generates a ticket.
  • Email to our shared services provider to answer queries. Some suppliers can view data directly in our e-invoicing platform. We’re looking at implementing systematic remittance to companies.

 Closing Summary

As Peeriosity member companies implement new technologies and approaches to resolving vendor inquiries without human intervention, there remains the question regarding the preferred methods for receiving vendor inquiries.   For Peeriosity members, the highest volumes are by phone for only 10% of poll respondents, with 85% reporting that email inquiries have the highest volume.  We expect this trend continue, with vendor inquiry volumes using the phone support continuing to diminish, with more companies moving to eliminate phone support for most if not all vendor inquiries.

What is the primary method at your company for receiving inquiries from vendors?  What approach have you taken to eliminate or reduce the need for live person phone support?

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

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 “iPolling” 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 Mail, members can easily communicate at any time with others who participated in iPolling.

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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