By Nicholas Cucci
Network Merchants Inc.
The payments industry can be hard to navigate. Today, even the most experienced payment professionals can feel besieged by new rules and regulations, unintended consequences from legislation, security requirements, technological advancements and increased competition.
For some traditional ISOs and merchant level salespeople (MLSs), these changes to our industry have not only caused anxiety; they have also led to loss of business. But change is not always bad.
Those who embrace it can thrive. With the right attitude and sound business decisions, modern payment professionals will increase business and establish stronger bonds with their existing merchants.
In particular, merchants lacking industry experience are overwhelmed and unfamiliar with our practices. For example, without proper guidance, merchants mistakenly set fraud thresholds too high or low, inadvertently removing good transactions or permitting fraudulent transactions and chargebacks.
ISOs and MLSs can fill the gap. They are the backbone of the industry and well suited to solve most merchant challenges. What can the modern ISO or MLS do? Study the industry. New technologies emerge every day. When mobile payments were in their infancy, who would have envisioned millions of people paying their bills and shopping from mobile devices?
Keep offerings simple, and offer your merchants educated control by adding a personal touch. Don't simply sign the merchant for a Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard compliance program.
Explain why they must be compliant and what this will help them safeguard. New data breaches pop up regularly; keep your merchants at the forefront of compliance.
Research a system that will work for you and your merchants. Is it a multitiered reporting system? Does the merchant reconcile only through QuickBooks? Could he or she benefit from mobile processing? With all the smart phones on the market, merchants of all types can find solutions. They may even be able to use mobile devices instead of terminals for payment acceptance.
ISOs can get back to basics by sprucing up their marketing campaigns. The ultimate goal of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well that your product or service sells itself. An underlying concept of marketing is trying to satisfy customers' needs, wants and demands. When creating your marketing campaign this year, keep the four P's of marketing in mind: product, price, placement and promotion.
When pricing your product or service, make sure it's competitive. Be selective in choosing the channels (placement) that will best reach your potential customers. Then promote your services to those channels to raise awareness among your target market. For example, ask whether you should start with advertisements in an industry magazine, press releases or blog posts.
Quality customer support is key. Companies work hard to build quality products and services, but many do not realize customer support is the Achilles heel of the company.
Customers will abandon your business if your support misguides them; you will also see a decline in customers if you outsource your support. If your support isn't top notch, you will wind up with frustrated customers, reduced sales and an increase in cancellations.
The fastest way to grow your business is by the spoken word. Generally, a company's performance is based on its customer support team. How many times have you heard from a friend that XYZ Company was great? XYZ may have accepted your product return without question or fixed potential problems before they occurred. You are more likely to remember that positive buzz than negative word of mouth.
However, one bad experience can ruin any future business with a customer. When a company's support team fails, the company's foundation begins to crumble. If you lose the credibility you worked so hard to build, your business will come to a screeching halt. So never forget that great service is the key to a successful business.
Nicholas P. Cucci is the Director of Marketing for Network Merchants Inc., a graduate of Benedictine University and a licensed Certified Fraud Examiner. Cucci is also a member of the Advisory Board and Anti-Fraud Technology Committee for the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners. NMI builds e-commerce payment gateways for companies that want to process transactions online in real time anywhere in the world. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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