Long gone are the days of simple bill payment, as are the days when the burden of action rested primarily upon the payer’s shoulders. Changes in technology have produced automation on both sides, assisting the carrier as well as the customer. In the first wave of automation, carriers modified their invoice and billing process in their TMS systems. This reduced manual labor when invoicing and allowed staff to focus on collections. Customers processed invoices in a typical fashion, by either paying in full or paying a partial amount when they felt a bill was incorrect. In the event of a short pay or past due situation, it was reliant on the customer to justify the paid amount. The customer would work directly with the carrier in order to talk through the reasoning for the past due or short amount. This would either be approved and the bill would be adjusted, or there would be a balance due issued to the customer. The key in this scenario is that the customer was responsible for invoice verification and payment amounts as well as working directly with the carrier.
In the subsequent phase of automation, customers transitioned to their own TMS solutions, which provided inherent auditing capabilities or plugins to do so. To aid customers, these integrated systems provide checks and balances to ensure that invoices match expectations and rate quotations. The best systems provide full automation; in the event that “everything” matches, payments process with minimal customer interaction. However, in cases where an invoice does not meet expectation, manual intervention is required. Understanding the time required to clear these discrepancies, many customer TMS systems have been configured to provide carriers direct access to do the work to ensure invoices match quotes or provide adequate documentation to justify a difference. Instead of a conversation to talk through any discrepancies, the carrier is often directed to “look it up in the portal”.