The Green Sheet Online Edition
April 08, 2013 • Issue 13:04:01
The long and short of service
In the payments industry, you don't have to be a super-ISO to achieve Amazonian results. The secret is to focus on the long-term picture as you conquer each new milestone.
In the explosive dot-com era of the 1990s, a number of entrepreneurs made the mistake of focusing on short-term gains. They used up their investors' resources as though the money would never stop flowing in while neglecting the fundamental business practices required to build a solid business in the new Information Age.
Others, realizing they might not make a profit during the early years while they built their businesses, strategized and used their resources wisely.
Taking the high road
In the payments world, patience and perseverance typically prevail over short-term actions that don't match long-term objectives.
For example, selling merchants antiquated POS equipment and offering to upgrade it a few months later so it will be Europay/MasterCard/Visa chip-enabled is akin to shooting oneself in the foot.
A more effective approach would be to discuss a merchant's long-range goals and offer an integrated POS system that can easily incorporate future payment technologies. Such solutions exist today.
Lowball pricing is another way to undermine merchant relationships. Instead of squeezing your margins close to zero, offer value-added services to enhance merchant profitability and payment security, such as Payment Card Industry (PCI) Data Security Standard (DSS) compliance monitoring, full-featured POS systems tailored for the markets you serve, data breach insurance, and loyalty and rewards programs.
One thing to keep in mind with emerging technologies is there will be winners and losers. The dot.com era and rise of personal computing are recent reminders.
ISOs and merchant level salespeople (MLSs) who force new technologies on merchants too early in the game run the risk of attrition when a competitor comes along with a better solution.
As we continue through the incubation phase in mobile wallet and other developing payment technologies, certain entities are likely to dominate the field, but we do not yet know which companies those will be.
At this point, the best policy is to maintain an open dialog with merchants on the merits of each system as it becomes available, so merchants will turn to your organization for answers.
Another area in which an ISO or MLS can outperform others is in customer service. Training at every level is paramount to building an organization capable of succeeding regardless of shifting economic conditions.
All payment professionals should take charge of their own ongoing training so they can be fully informed, expert advisers to their merchant customers. Much like a data breach, ineffective service to a merchant is considered a breach of confidence that can cause irreparable damage to an ISO's or MLS's reputation.
So, why not take at least one action each day that is completely in synch with your long-term objectives, as well as those of your merchants? Keep it up, and in a few years, your results could, indeed, be Amazonian.
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