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Friday, February 5, 2021

U.S. processor survey finds merchants underwhelmed

The J.D. Power 2021 U.S. Merchant Services Satisfaction Study, released Feb. 4, 2021, found payment processors could do more to meet the needs of merchant customers. Findings were based on 3,253 small business customers of merchant services providers surveyed between September and November 2020. They rated their processors according to 12 key performance indicators.

Researchers noted several key performance indicators (KPIs) had below 50 percent meet rates, which spotlights opportunities for service-level improvement. These KPIs addressed client interactions, equipment and technology, funding speed, and fees, according to Paul McAdam, senior director of banking and payments intelligence at J.D. Power.

"In recent years, merchant services providers have introduced technology innovations that make it easier than ever for small businesses to accept card and digital wallet payments," McAdam said. "This past year demonstrates that the technology is consistently meeting market needs, but achieving real, lasting customer satisfaction is as much about service levels as it is about technology."

Shifting processor landscape

The J.D. Power study pointed out that recent FIS, Fiserv and Global Payments mergers and pandemic-related economic pressures will continue to affect small and midsize businesses. For example, Bank of America Merchant Services customers were impacted when Bank of America ended its joint venture with Fiserv, which had been providing services to small business customers. The cumulative effects of organizational restructuring and economic pressures underscore the need for tailored customer-facing strategies, researchers noted.

Noting that banks have a natural advantage in providing merchant services to small businesses, due to existing relationships, researchers found that all four leading bank brands had declining customer satisfaction scores in 2021. Payment processors had the lowest satisfaction scores of all categories surveyed, with the exception of Elavon (+38 points); FIS (+31 points); First American (+27 points); North American Bancard (+16 points) and Fiserv (+15 points). Two specialist brands, Intuit QuickBooks (+13 points) and CardConnect (+5 points), also reported improved satisfaction ratings.

J.D. Power researchers also found that payment specialists and fintech players are improving customer satisfaction and outperforming banks and processors by providing easy, reliable and secure card and digital payment options and understandable fee structures.

Survey highlights

Micro small businesses were least satisfied and ecommerce merchants were the most satisfied with overall service quality, researchers found. Following are additional survey highlights:

  • Declining service satisfaction: Satisfaction levels were lowest among businesses that were impacted by COVID-19, particularly with regard to contact center representatives; automated voice response (IVR) services; underwriting and onboarding; and cost of service.

  • Rising confidence in tech: Small business customer satisfaction with technology functionality, reliability and ease of use were the highest-scoring factors in the study, researchers found.

  • High ecommerce satisfaction: The 851 ecommerce merchants surveyed outperformed all other sales channels in the areas of overall satisfaction with merchant services providers, especially with timely resolution of service requests and clarity of pricing and fees. This group also had the highest level of understanding of their payment processing options and pricing structures.

For more information about the U.S. Merchant Services Satisfaction Study, visit jdpower.com/business/resource/us-merchant-services-study . end of article

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