Three Ways AP Automation Service Providers Can Improve Customer Satisfaction

Ma-Keba Frye  |  March 4, 2020   |  AP Automation  |  Data & Technology  


Automated invoice processing has helped AP departments streamline manual, costly, and time-consuming processes. As with any automation, the industry enables businesses to work smarter, not harder. But that doesn’t mean AP automation service providers are finished with innovation – to stay competitive, they need to operate at their best and measure up against their customers’ success metrics. To improve customer satisfaction, these three actions are key:

1. Eliminate paper invoices

We live in a digital age where automated invoice processing has paved the way to widespread efficiency. Yet despite available technology, 55 percent of invoices are still received manually, many from electric, natural gas, telecom, and waste suppliers. Paper invoicing involves a laundry list of time-consuming tasks, from retrieval and data entry to manual reconciliation and approval.

55 percent of invoices are still received manually, many from electric, natural gas, telecom, and waste suppliers.

Processing paper utility invoices is labor-intensive, error-prone, and costly. By eliminating this process, AP automation service providers can substantially improve efficiency, free up manpower, and reduce costs — benefits that can then be passed on to the customer. 

While we’re several years away from 100 percent paperless processing, within three years, one-third of businesses expect to make their supplier payments electronically, which is simplified with front-end automation. 

2. Enable straight-through invoice processing

Straight-through processing (STP) completely automates the transaction process from start to finish by receiving the utility invoice from the vendor directly into the AP system, ready for payment. This eliminates human intervention related to mailed invoices, reduces error risks, and expedites utility invoice payments for your customers. 

Enabling STP not only improves invoice processing speed and saves money, but it also increases productivity by enabling your customers to reallocate staff time to more strategic functions. Thus, fully automated invoice processing allows for a better customer experience overall.

3. Improve KPIs

There are several key performance indicators (KPIs) that AP departments use to track their efficiency. Maintaining a baseline for performance enables AP automation service providers to ensure that customers are receiving the best service possible. A few KPIs that AP automation service providers should focus on are:

Average invoice processing time

Understanding how much time it takes to process an individual invoice provides insight into how much money is spent on late fees and how productive the process is. Focusing on this area can result in reduced costs and increased productivity.

Cost per invoice processed

The average cost to process a single invoice is $11.57. Cost is one of the driving factors behind why many companies implement AP automation solutions. The cost to process invoices reflects how operations are running and where there’s room for enhancement. With invoice processing costs ranging from $1 to $21, it’s clear that there are still opportunities to improve. 

Invoice exception rate

Invoice exceptions can bring the AP process to a halt, requiring time to identify and fix the issue. More invoice automation will significantly decrease exception rates, but it doesn’t completely eliminate them due to possible discrepancies on the supplier’s end. Digitized invoice data makes it easier to keep an eye on this area so that problems can be resolved quickly. 

Understanding these metrics and how you stack up will allow you to evaluate your processes and identify areas for improvement. By performing well and regularly assessing performance, AP providers can ensure that their goals align well with the expectations of their customers. 

Keep customers happy with automated invoice processing

Customer satisfaction can make or break your business. Doing your due diligence to ensure that things are running smoothly on the backend is essential to providing quality service and keeping customers happy. 

Utility bills are often left out of automated invoice processing because of disparate formats and lack of participation in supplier networks. That ends today. Are you ready to streamline your utility invoice processing? Contact us to learn how our utility invoice automation solution can help you grow your business and increase efficiency.

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About Ma-Keba Frye

Ma-Keba Frye is a Content Marketing Associate at Urjanet, assisting with content development and execution. When she's not writing, she enjoys reading, listening to music, and volunteering.

Tags   AP Automation   |   Urjanet   |   Utility Bills   |   Utility Data   |