By Dee and Emily Karawadra
While embarking on a new year and new decade, we've been reflecting on what has really made a difference in our business. The past decade was full of exciting times in our industry. As ISOs and merchant level salespeople (MLSs), we have all weathered a lot as merchant service providers in the ten years.
When the decade began, we were just placing mobile terminals, and cell phone technology was hit or miss. Now this sphere has exploded, giving us easier ways to bring payments to non-brick-and-mortar businesses. Technology has expanded businesses into the mobile market, making payment acceptance fast and easy. We also saw the implementation of EMV technology and chip card issuance. And we saw that checks did not go out of use as predicted, but rather ACH became a common transaction mode for many businesses.
What did we learn from this decade of change? Here are a few initiatives that helped us weather the storm of change in our industry.
Technology is ever-changing, and it continually brings new challenges and opportunities. The payments technology of five years ago is now considered old and outdated. There is no doubt an essential way to stay on the competitive edge and keep acquiring new merchant accounts is to offer the latest and greatest technology.
We did this in our business by strategically partnering with processors that had the best technology we could find in the industry. As we grew, so did our partnerships. We sought out the key players in the verticals we were targeting: hospitality, retail, petroleum, POS VARs, ecommerce and restaurants. This enabled us to grow our niche markets with a solid program and resources to support our merchants. Investing in the technology that helps run our office is also a place where we stepped it up in the last decade. Customer relationship management (CRM) software was not often heard of prior to 2000; today the marketplace is swimming in office management systems trying to streamline all aspects of business.
We took on the project of creating a proprietary CRM to aid in managing our merchants and sales partners. We have found the money and time invested was well worth it. The ability to have all information on all processors accessible via one platform was huge for our support staff, as well as for the MLSs needing to communicate with merchants and have a back-office in their own home.
Sales in our industry is not what it used to be. The days of telemarketing and sending out mailers are gone. In the past decade, people in all walks of life emerged from My Space and embraced Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Snap Chat, LinkedIn and many more social media apps. This has influenced every facet of contemporary life. We now hunt for jobs on social media, buy and sell items through social media-powered marketplaces, and make friends and connections via our phones. It only makes sense that those of us in the payments business have to market differently to obtain new customers and sales agents.
We, at Impact PaySystem, were late to the social media and digital marketing game. We spent time deliberating, not knowing what the attrition rates would be for obtaining new merchants via digital marketing. We have now come to embrace networking via social media and all it has to offer. We found that word of mouth is now a referral on a social media site or being tagged on a local business. We welcome this and manage it on a daily basis now. We learned to adapt and continue to do so. Prioritize service Service has been the focal point of our ISO. It's the reason we opened our ISO 20 years ago. Being sales agents in the field and not having the support we needed from the processor we worked with was the impetus behind forming Impact PaySystem.
We brought the processors' systems in house and began managing the merchants ourselves. We developed technology to bring all aspects of managing a merchant from all our processors to our office. All the effort was to better support our merchants. They don't have to call into the processor and sit on hold. They get a real person and systems in place to assist them.
We strive to provide exceptional service to all our customers, and that includes merchants, ISOs, MLSs and other resellers. We have seen two decades now in our business, and the one constant is that good service does matter.
Evolving and adapting to the times takes resilience. Educating yourself on the changes in the industry will always pay off. The best way we have found to do this is by staying active in the industry by attending regional shows like those produced by the Southeast Acquirers Association, Northeast Acquirers Association, Midwest Acquirers Association and Western States Acquirers Association.
The networking opportunities provided by these shows have been beneficial to us. Plus, these organizations do a great job of incorporating plenty of pertinent education, technology and networking into just a couple of days.
In addition, we take advantage of the training our processors offer, always striving to stay informed. The opportunity to know the people behind the scenes at the processors has been valuable to us, as well. Good luck in your next year and decade – and stay in touch.
Dee Karawadra is president and CEO of Impact PaySystem, and Emily Karawadra is the company's chief financial officer. Since 2001, Impact PaySystem has been a leading provider of payment processing technologies and services to merchants throughout the United States. Through alliances with payments industry leaders such as Chase Paymentech, First Data, Buypass, Sage and more, Impact PaySystem offers tailored solutions to meet the unique needs of each merchant. Dee and Emily will welcome your questions and comments at email@example.com and firstname.lastname@example.org, respectively.
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