Creating a Customer-Centric Payment Experience
Your business needs cash to function, and that means making sure your customers pay their bills on time. In the current crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, it can be tricky to demand payment from customers when you know they’re struggling just as much as you are. We know how delicate that interaction can be, but it’s still vitally important that you keep money moving in.
One of the most helpful things you can do to make sure that your customers and clients pay you on time is to make sure that paying is as easy as possible. If you send them an email reminding them that their account is overdue, but they have to pay by business check, they then have to go through the process of ordering those checks, authorizing them, and shipping them. They might forget or put it off until later, and you won’t get paid.
With a huge portion of the country now working from home, convenience is even more important than ever. Business owners everywhere are trying to learn how to run their businesses from afar, and the last thing you want is to make that harder for them than it has to be. Here are some ways to make the payment experience as easy as possible.
Accept Multiple Forms of Payment
There will always be traditionalists that want a paper check they can photocopy for their records, but that line of thinking will have to quickly fall by the wayside in the digital age. Customers want to pay quickly, easily, and digitally. They want to pay from their phone or laptop. And they don’t want to install new apps or sign up for new accounts to do so.
Make payments more seamless by accepting it in whatever form your customers want to pay it. If they have a credit card, you should be set up to accept it, whether online, in person, or over the phone. If they’re using an online-only bank, you should accept transfers. If they still want to send a check, you should be able to accept that, too.
Don’t forget about third parties, either. Many storefronts allow customers to pay with their financial information they’ve already saved with Apple, Google, Amazon, or Paypal, alleviating concerns about giving their financial information to yet another store.
Finally, think about when and where customers want to pay you. Let’s say you’re on a call with a client and they mention that they have an outstanding balance. They say that they have their business credit card on them right now and would like to settle up. Can you accept that info over the phone? If not, do you know where to direct them? The fewer steps between them and a successful transaction, the better.
In today’s digital, distributed world, more and more people will be making transactions that are completely online. When they do, you need to be able to reassure them that their payment information is secure.
One way to do that is a method we’ve already mentioned: using third-party payment services. Apple, Amazon, Google, and Paypal already use world-class encryption and security measures when they handle payment information, along with the name recognition to go with, you can piggyback off of that security for your own transactions.
If you’re not using a third-party service, encryption is a must. Companies like Verisign, GeoTrust, Thawte, and the Better Business Bureau offer certifications that will help your customers trust that their money is being handled securely.
Don’t Require Registration
Occasionally, you’ll try to make a payment online, only to be told that you need to create an account or log into an existing account. You can’t remember your password, so you try to recover it, but then you can’t remember your recovery email address. Frustrated, you give up and decide to do it later.
This is a real scenario, and it’s one you absolutely want to avoid for your customers. It’s also completely unnecessary. Instead, offer people the means of paying by invoice number or account number alone.
Avoid Declined Payments
Having a card declined is a major annoyance for any customer, and it can easily lead to a customer walking away from a purchase permanently. If a customer is genuinely low on funds, there’s not much you can do, but that’s not the only reason that a card gets declined.
Some cards are declined because customers don’t know which information they’re supposed to enter or in what format, so one of the best steps you can take is to ensure that the information you need for each credit card is clear and easy to enter.
If their payment is genuinely declined, you should have a protocol in place to reach out to those customers to ensure that they’re still able to complete a purchase. You could offer an alternative means of paying or offer to process the order manually, for example.
Keep Your Branding Consistent
Finally, don’t forget to keep your branding throughout the checkout process. Some websites use third-party checkout systems, but without bothering to change their appearance to match the rest of their buying experience. It can be jarring and it undercuts the consistency and strength of your brand.
The payment process is a crucial part of the customer’s journey, and making a few minor adjustments to that process can dramatically improve your customers’ experience and keep them coming back for more.