Friday, April 27, 2012
The Electronic Transactions Association, in conjunction with public relations firm Trevelino/Keller, conducted a merchant survey in February 2012 to measure awareness of the ETA and its Certified Payments Professional (CPP) program. The survey also asked merchants to rate certain attributes of their merchant service providers (MSPs).
Preliminary findings from the survey, revealed during the ETA's April board meeting, suggest merchants are generally satisfied with their MSPs.
Of the 827 merchants who responded, 607 met the research criteria. Qualifying merchants had to be small to midsize businesses that accept credit card payments and use ISOs or merchant level salespeople (MLSs) to obtain payment services. The breakdown of merchants by channel included 57.7 percent brick and mortar, 15.3 percent online and 27 percent with both channels.
Merchants were asked to rate their MSPs in four areas:
1. Product knowledge 2. Customer service 3. Clarity or understandability of statements and contract 4. Honesty and/or integrity
"In each of those categories the differences were very small," stated Thomas Goldsmith, ETA Director of Communications and Public Relations. "The largest plurality, ranging from 42 to 47 percent, said they were satisfactory in all categories. About 25 percent rated their MSPs as good. The excellent rating ranged from 16.1 to 22 percent. So, the satisfactory, good, excellent rating represents about 88 to 90 percent."
Only 10 to 12 percent of respondents rated their MSPs as either poor or inconsistent in the four categories. Common frustrations voiced by this segment included failure to mention hidden fees, flip-flopping on pricing and lack of knowledge about the merchant's business.
When merchants were asked if their MSPs were delivering products or services other than credit and debit card processing, nearly 22 percent answered yes. "About 78 percent of the merchants said their merchant service provider sells them nothing but credit and debit processing," Goldsmith noted. "They're not selling anything else."
To help ISOs and MLSs enhance their offerings in today's changing payments climate, the ETA hosted the Mobile and Connected Commerce program during its Annual Meeting & Expo held recently in Las Vegas, and the program was well attended, Goldsmith noted.
Data culled from the survey also revealed 9.6 percent of respondents were aware of the ETA's CPP program launched in 2011 (180 individuals earned the CPP designation in the first round of testing conducted in October). More than 14 percent of merchant respondents reported being familiar with the ETA itself.
"What we're probably going to do is come back in the fall and measure those same questions again and see how much progress we made," Goldsmith said, adding that through periodic surveys, he intends to track progress in these areas over time.
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