Payments are Critical for Customer Experience

Posted on August 9, 2018 Peter Mollins

I just got back from PaymentsEd Forum, a fantastic community-led event for payments industry professionals. Over 400 payments practitioners from merchants, gateways, and other related companies from around the world (literally) got together to share best practices, renew old friendships, and talk about the future of payments.

This was my first time attending the event, and I was impressed by the caliber of the sessions and in particular the enthusiasm of the speakers. As a first-time attendee, I wanted to share my perspective on the conference. And as I was thinking about commonalities across the event, there was one theme that was consistent across every session I was in.

paymentsed forum

How Payments Help Support Customer Experience

Why does a consumer return to your store or service again and again? They almost certainly have alternatives that they could move to or purchase from. But there is something about your product or service that has provided and continues to offer an experience that is compelling enough to keep them renewing or returning to purchase.

And payments are an essential part of that experience. If I can checkout efficiently. If renewals are not a hassle. If you know how to support me and provide a great experience, I’m going to keep returning. That need for a great customer experience also applies to that moment that is supposedly the least pleasant – the moment when I actually pay for the good or service.

Think of the hurdles your customer has gone through before transacting: they found your product, found your site, app, or store, they selected the product. And then, at the last mile, something in the payments process derails them from a great experience? It’s no wonder that Jordan McKee from the 451 Research cited the fact that 2/5 of shoppers have abandoned a cart in the last 6 months because of something supposedly minor like having to reenter payment information.

I think of a recent purchase of theater tickets that I made through Spreedly customer SeatGeek. Selection of the tickets was easy – I was able to compare the value vs. price efficiently. And checkout was incredibly smooth. In fact, it was so smooth that this final step of processing payment was almost magical.

Let’s take a quick tour through the sessions that I had the chance to go through on Day 1 of the conference to give you a sense for how solid that Customer Experience through-line was.

Friction of Interaction with Store Apps

The keynote speaker on the first day, Peter Lisoskie, explored the opportunities of today’s and tomorrow’s mobile-first shopping experience. In particular, he related how frustrating it can be for a shopper to purchase products in a live in-store setting – waiting in line, finding the product, etc. And that while mobile apps can improve that, they are increasingly less likely to be installed and used for some stores.

An approach the speaker recommended was to provide a vehicle for consumers to interact with a store via a multi-purpose app that populates with offers and a checkout experience tailored to where the customer is. That would allow more frictionless checkout experience, and great customer satisfaction.

Accepting Payments Where Your Customers Are

The next session I attended looked into challenges around accepting payments in markets outside of the US. We see this challenge regularly – merchants are leaving money on the table because they simply can’t transact with their customers in the markets they’re in. Friction in the payments process can be extraordinarily frustrating for consumer and merchant. They’ve reached the final step of their purchase, only to be blocked. That’s why we’re seeing merchants look to add multiple gateways / PSPs to support the countries they need.

Account Updater is About Better Customer Experience

Two sessions I went to next both explored Account Updater from different angles. First off was Sally Baptiste (Payment Operations Group) and second included a panel with experts from Adyen, Mastercard, and Bart Phelps (MailChimp). In both cases, it’s clear we need to think of Account Updater in the context of cutting friction from the payment process.

Yes, Account Updater helps to improve transaction success rates. So, for a given transaction we’re more likely to have an authorization. But there’s a larger picture to this as well that both sessions hit on – and that again is customer experience. If a consumer has to interrupt their purchase to store a new card, or call customer service, or in general be dissuaded from doing business with the merchant – it can have a major impact on their satisfaction with the purchase and willingness to return.

There’s a comparable statistic in the B2B sales world that says that half of a customer’s satisfaction with a purchase is derived from their satisfaction in the purchasing process. Account Updater helps address that by removing an easily correctable stumbling block.

The team from Jewelry Television, including speaker Jason Hembree, also looked at tactics beyond Account Updater that can help reduce failed transactions. They analyzed data to determine what days are most effective for resubmitting transactions with consumer’s approval. That led to a significant rise is successful transactions and again higher satisfaction among customers who didn’t have to bear the disruption that comes from a failed authorization.

Customer Experience – A Keynote

Industry thought leader Jordan McKee closed out the day with a fascinating set of data and insights that looked at Customer Experience in detail. As mentioned above, he cited a number of pieces of research that showed how cart abandonment rises significantly when customers need to reenter their credit card information.

Another piece of hair raising data was that one in ten shoppers have had a recent false positive decline on a card transaction. And critically from an experience perspective – one in three of those individuals were less likely to return to that merchant. Bad payments experience = bad customer experience.

To wrap up, I’ll reference a Day 2 session with Karen Coffey (First Data), Clint Cady (W. Capra) that looked at the Future of Payments. In that session, the speakers identified a switch in perspective from a payments mindset to a commerce mindset. That is, to focus on how the customer’s experience can be made to be so satisfying that they’ll return again and again. That’s the power of payments – to take something that had long been seen as a friction point in the process and to turn it into a competitive advantage for forward-leaning companies.

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