5 ways payment systems impact the customer experience
What do your customers really want? It’s a simple question, but the answer can redefine the way you do business. Smart organisations create competitive advantage by placing the wants of the customer first and managing their customer experience from start to finish.
Why are payments so crucial to the customer experience?
Customer experience is defined as the interactions that occur between a customer and an organisation throughout their relationship. These interactions occur through all stages of the customer lifecycle.
Collecting payments is critical to the customer experience for one reason. It is the time when the customer evaluates your value proposition and acts on the buying decision.
This may be for a one-off purchase or a recurring payment, but that payment gives the customer the opportunity to reflect on whether they are receiving value from your business relationship.
At that point, the customer can either agree to continue and remain loyal or terminate the relationship it’s critically important that once a buying decision is made that the payment process is as easy, seamless and secure as possible.
Unfortunately, many organisations fail to recognise the importance of payment processes when mapping out and designing the ideal customer experience. In doing so, they may be losing customers and cash flow at a critical phase.
Whether customers are checking out on an e-commerce site, paying a bill or setting up a recurring transaction, the process must be seamless and straightforward. A company’s choice of payment provider can support or undermine this goal. Therefore, it’s essential to consider how your payments provider plays a crucial role in delivering a fantastic customer experience.
- Payments are the most frequent touchpoint between you and your customers
A common mistake is to think of the payment process as a transaction, rather than a touchpoint. This downplays the power of a seamless payments process to capture new customers and make or break essential customer relationships.
Payments are a critical touchpoint – a part of the customer journey requiring careful attention and nurturing. Each time a customer reaches a checkout page or pays a bill, they have a moment to reflect on whether the effort needed to make a payment is equal to the value they get from the company. If it’s too difficult or cumbersome, customers may abort the payment process and go to a competitors website. Confusing, lengthy or complicated payment processes can overshadow other positive aspects of a transaction, including the perceived value of an otherwise trusted brand.
This is especially true when it comes to recurring payments. Subscription services are growing in popularity across industries, but customers aren’t likely to maintain ongoing relationships if the monthly payment process isn’t simple, secure and straightforward. In these relationships, the initial process of gathering leads and securing signups is only one of many critical touchpoints over the lifetime of the customer relationship. Each payment is another touchpoint, and a negative payment experience could lead to termination of the account at any time while fears around end-to-end security often stop potential customers signing up in the first place.
- Customers expect different ways to pay
Convenience and a variety of payment channels are essential to modern consumers. Therefore, a company must take into account the flexible, multi-channel shopping behaviours of modern consumers when choosing a payment provider. Young consumers, in particular, want personalised shopping experiences, including the freedom to decide how to pay every time they do business with a brand. Eg via the internet, mobile devices, IVR or call centre.
Modern businesses are customer-centric and rely heavily on interactions tailored to the needs of individuals. Although companies still control the shopping environment, marketing messages and price of the goods and services offered, it’s essential to provide customers with a sense of control throughout the process. This includes offering multiple payment channels, such as credit cards, online debit payments, mobile payments and payment through branded apps.
Attempting to provide every possible type of payment channel can be overwhelming and might not even be possible if you have outdated payment infrastructure that lacks flexibility. A flexible Enterprise Payment Solution can allow you to personalise the customer experience, ensuring a secure, seamlessly designed payment process.
- Customers expect fast payments
Customers often know what they want before they begin the shopping process. Customers rarely enter an online shopping environment to browse. More often they shop for a specific need, find what they want and click through to the checkout.
Any delays, bottlenecks or errors at the point of payment almost guarantee an abandoned cart. The speed of the payment process is a reflection of the overall quality of service a company provides, and few consumers have the time or patience to deal with a complex system. The faster a transaction can be completed, the better.
Checkouts with multiple pages are becoming a thing of the past as customers shift toward a desire for one-click options and apps offering instant payment methods. Additional clicks mean additional time, and customers may view their time as more valuable than anything a brand can provide.
- Integrate your payment gateway with your brand
If a customer encounters a payment gateway with a completely different style than a brand’s website, it’s an immediate red flag. Failing to create a seamless transition can raise doubts about authenticity and security, leading to abandoned carts and driving customers to seek another source for the products and services.
Whenever possible, companies should choose payment gateways with highly flexible options for integration and customised branding. This can take the form of customised iframes and desktop workflows that connect your brand seamlessly with a secure payment process ensuring customers maintain trust throughout.
- Don’t make them jump through too many hoops
First-time customers have the potential to become loyal customers if they have a positive buying experience. Many don’t want the hassle of creating an account before checkout, especially if they’re not familiar with the company and aren’t sure they’ll be making more purchases in the future.
This puts businesses in an awkward position when it comes to retention. Offering a guest checkout can minimise cart abandonment but may also lead to fewer long-term customer relationships. However, forcing customers to sign up through a gateway with strict formatting rules and too many required fields, may turn away more customers than it converts.
The best way to resolve the conflict is to allow customers to check out as guests but offer incentives if they choose to create an account, such as a first-time customer discount, exclusive coupons or one-click checkout for future purchases with advanced tokenisation services.
Improving the payment process with these five criteria in mind can transform the way customers view a brand. Flexibility, reliability, trustworthiness and speed are all essential factors in choosing a payment gateway and creating the seamless interactions the modern consumer craves. Whereas a bad experience can leave a lasting negative impression and drive customers to competitors, a good experience reflects well on a company and has the potential to establish lasting relationships with customers.