The intent of this article and video is to detail the process and workflow of a good parcel audit.
This video is all about explaining the inner workings of a parcel audit and automated recovery system, with the intent of informing companies on the overview of the parcel auditing process and the services built-in that work together to save you time and money on shipping.
More information on any of the topics detailed within this video is available on sharearefund.com within the core services section of the website.
Any good auditing service starts with the retrieval of carrier invoices. The methodology for retrieval of the carrier invoices is company specific.
- Large companies, multinationals, and fortune 500 companies with existing EDI integrations, can open an FTP data pools to pass invoices electronically. This is one way to retrieve the invoices.
- Another, more common method, is that the shipper provides the parcel auditor with the username and password for the carrier accounts, and the carrier invoices are retrieved by the parcel auditor directly from the carrier websites. Either setup is workable. The takeaway here is that the retrieval of the invoices is 100% automated, and that a good parcel auditing service provider, like Share a Refund, supports both methodologies.
With the carrier invoices in hand, the next step is to audit each shipment. A good audit includes
- Assessing each component cost assessed on a shipment,
- Validating both the application of that component cost,
- The amount of the related charge,
- Any negotiated discounts.
Take residential surcharge fees for example. Share a Refund analyzes the ship-to address on each shipment to be sure that the address is indeed a residential address, and that the discount on the residential surcharge fee was properly applied.
The claim submission service involves filing disputes and claims with the carriers for refund. There are a few points that are important to note on the claim submission.
- First is the claims must be submitted quickly, as there is a limited number of days to submit a claim, and we’ve done a whole video in the past talking about the importance of speed in the shipment auditing process.
- Another is that the claims must include the proper context that the carriers need to approve the claims. That means the correct type of claim must be filed, and the amount requested must be for the amount of the billing mistake observed.
Going back to the residential surcharge example from before, if the correct discount was not applied on the residential surcharge, then the credit amount request should be for the net amount of the refund reasonably expected. In contrast, if the residential surcharge service fee was applied on a commercial delivery, then the entire amount of the component cost is expected as the credit amount, and the dispute filed includes the amount of the refund requested as such.
Put simply, speed, type of refund, context, expected refund amount and also priority are all important considerations when filing claims. And once claims are submitted, they’re sent along to the claim verification service.
The claim verification reads the responses for the carriers on the claims submitted. While simple, there are multiple ways that carriers can deliver a response, making the processing of verifying claims more complex than might be initially apparent. A good auditing system captures all possible response types, and handles exceptions intelligently.
For example, if dispute for a service failure is rejected, then submitting a dispute on an invalid address correction might be the next appropriate step in one case, whereas in another case, resubmitting the service failure dispute again on that same shipment is better next step, and in yet another case the best action is to take no further action at all.
The decision engine built into the claim verification system chooses the next appropriate actions to take on a shipment intelligently. Very important. The claim verification system also reconciles each credit or refund to the disputes and claims on that shipment, both to validate actions taken by Share a Refund to get refunds, and to feed the results back into the system for statistical analysis. If it’s not readily apparent, I’ll just say it: The claim verification service built into Share a Refund is a big driver of how we maximize refunds, and a big part of what makes us unique in our approach. Okay, let’s keep moving in the workflow. With the claims verified and the refunds secured, the next part is reporting.
The reporting service distills all of the recent shipping, auditing, and refunding activities into easy-to-read charts. The current and best format we’ve found is to present this information in charts embedded into emails that are sent weekly to the notification contacts listed for a customer.
Interactive reports, formatted pdfs and data dump exports for more in-depth reporting and crafty excel work are available within a reporting dashboard, and all of reporting built into Share a Refund is included for free as part of the service. And any refunds reported are the basis for generating invoices as part of the online billing service.
Every online billing system has three basic features.
- See and pay invoices,
- See recent payments and
- download PDF and CSV’s.
All of that is built into Share a Refund, as expected. Some points worth noting is AutoPay is built into Share a Refund, so that making payments on invoices is easy. Also, each line item on an invoice includes the tracking number where a refund was secured and hyperlinks to the details page for shipment, where all information, including the actions taken to secure the refund are listed. Customers love this because it helps in the process of verifying refunds and the actions were taken by Share a Refund to get those credits. And this is an important distinction.
Unlike our competitors, who charge for all refunds that are delivered, even the ones that they took no action on, Share a Refund only splits for refunds on shipments where actions were taken by our system to secure refunds. This results in lower service fees. Check out the How to tell if your small parcel auditing company is overcharging you video for more information on this topic.
So to recap, the downloading of invoices, the shipment auditing service, the claim submission service, the claim verification service, the reporting service, and the online billing service are the core parts of any good parcel audit.