Your Payments Deserve the Best Support Possible

CalendarDecember 2, 2021

Times have changed, haven't they? It will soon be standard for every enterprise-grade automated payment solution to include a support framework that serves both buyers and their suppliers adequately.

Unfortunately, most current solution providers haven't made that happen.

Providers bring value by offering organizations a solution that enables secure and efficient payments. But in order to differentiate themselves—especially from banks—they must provide superior support that bridges the gap between automation and service, and mutually benefits buyers and suppliers.

What makes a winning support framework?

Automated payments should begin proper support long before the release of the first payment. On the buyer side, a tech support team should install and configure their solution according to their specific requirements. Any solution worth its salt doesn’t take more than than an hour to train an organization’s cross-functional team through its first payment run. After that training, the tech support team should remain available to buyers, to address payment issues and questions. 

On the supplier side, a payment provider’s support team should enable suppliers to receive electronic payments. Furthermore, the provider should be able to enroll each supplier only once into the provider’s growing cultivated network of payment-enabled companies.

They continue to enable new suppliers as part of their service agreement. Without proactive and ongoing supplier enablement and support, the percentage of suppliers that can be paid electronically diminishes over time. That percentage decline represents pure missed opportunities for the buyer.

The payment data management difference

To ensure successful and timely payments, you need to securely collect, store, and continuously manage your suppliers’ information, including:

  • Remittance contact information

  • Remittance receipt method

  • Accepted payment methods

  • Validated banking credentials for ACH payments

Managing data is one of the many ongoing manual AP tasks that drains your team’s time and resources, and it poses a potential security risk to sensitive banking information. What alternatives do you have?

Bank-provided ACH solutions don’t offer ongoing supplier data-management services. Some will enable vendors initially, or do yearly outreach campaigns, and their customers remain responsible for securely storing and maintaining the data as it changes over time. Providers that require suppliers to maintain and update their own data in a separate portal generally find that the suppliers simply don’t bother. So your AP team gets stuck with the data-management task over the long term. That shouldn’t be good enough for you.

Supplier relationships are critical to your organization’s growth, so your payment provider needs to update supplier data continuously in real-time in order to give your suppliers the highest level of support.

Your suppliers are customers to your payments provider

Your payment provider should enable your suppliers from launch. As you add new suppliers over time, your provider should reach out and present them with their enrollment options. This outreach enables your organization to see, on average, over 80% of its payment volume (in dollars spent) paid to your suppliers via card and ACH.

Beyond that, every business day, your provider’s support team should do the following:

  • Field payment status calls and emails from suppliers

  • Validate bank information to protect suppliers against fraud

  • Educate suppliers on the value of receiving card payments

  • Follow up on and, if necessary, modify unprocessed card payments;

  • Provide support for payment issues and specialized suppliers—both domestic and international

The bottom line

If you use a software-only or bank-provided solution to automate your payments process, you’ll see limited effectiveness due to the lack of a substantive service offering. Both your AP team and your suppliers deserve the full support that gives your organization an invaluable competitive edge.