A Thing
The Green SheetGreen Sheet

The Green Sheet Online Edition

July 09, 2012 • Issue 12:07:01

Inspiration

Do you still love me?

If merchants are wondering whether you still exist, the dust buildup on your relationship has obviously reached critical mass. At this point, the next merchant level salesperson (MLS) to flash a smile could literally sweep the dust under the rug and start anew with the merchants you count for your residuals month in, month out.

Merchants today face inordinate challenges with changing consumer expectations, pricing pressures and competition from big-box retailers. The last thing they need is lackluster support of a vital link to profitability: a POS system that should connect them with customers, track inventory, accept present and future forms of payment, and have an excellent backup system - you.

When was the last time you reached out by phone or in person to the individual merchants in your portfolio? If you haven't interacted with them in some form during the past six months, you're missing the mark. Shifts in payment technology are happening at such a rapid pace, many merchants are feeling overwhelmed by the deluge of new possibilities. They could use a hand.

Merchant outreach

If you own a larger ISO, you probably have departments dedicated to customer service, technical support and security. The departments are likely staffed with folks who routinely resolve merchant POS issues. Why not deploy these same teams to strengthen merchant connections and reduce attrition?

One way to accomplish this is to designate one day each month when a specific team will make outbound calls to merchants. If it's the technical support team, have each person on the team contact a certain number of merchants and find out whether merchants are having any technical issues related to equipment or if their POS systems are living up to expectations, functionally. Document issues that come to light during the calls, including matters resolved, suggestions and follow-up needed, if any.

As you rotate teams each month, customer service members could pose questions about how quickly and effectively their team has resolved issues in the past and what areas might need improvement. The security team could assess merchant awareness of Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard compliance, determine what steps merchants have taken to protect their systems, and discuss resources and solutions your company has to offer.

On the other hand, if you are an MLS operating with a staff of one or two, merchant outreach can be integrated into your weekly routine. It may not be a full day, but schedule a block of time that allows you to connect with enough individuals so that in a year's time most merchants in your portfolio have heard from you.

By reaching out to merchants in this manner, you will open up a new level of dialogue. Realizing their opinion counts, the quiet majority who seldom speak up unless there is a serious problem will now have a voice that could improve the way you operate. Some of the best ideas come from those who avoid the fanfare and drama. Your task is to coax them into revealing their thoughts.

The simple and unexpected act of showing you care can profoundly affect the way merchants perceive you and your business. If you make the connection, the next competitor who struts in to greet your merchant should be met with a perfunctory, "No, thanks. I'm very satisfied with my service." end of article

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