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The Green Sheet Online Edition

December 14, 2020 • Issue 20:12:01

Would a customer design a queue?

By Simon Fairbairn
Ingenico, a Worldline company

In our always-on world, much has been made of the customer experience and the best way to deliver it. This is nowhere more so than in the world of payments and the means by which customers can seamlessly move from choice to gratification. Historically, the sales process has been peppered with friction, particularly at the point of payment.

Designing a great customer experience is simple: put yourself in customers' shoes, and envisage how they see the world, what frustrates them and how they want their experience to be.

For payment, though, merchants have struggled with realizing this promise because where there is payment, you can usually find a queue. Equally, it is fairly certain that if customers were to design their own buying experience, it's unlikely the payment part would be top of the list, nor would they include a queue as a valuable design feature.

So, how then to balance this conundrum? After all, payment is the pivot on which virtually all trade sits within the modern economy. Should we simply accept it as a necessary evil and just a fact of life we need to live with, or could we do something about it? Would it be a better goal to pursue a genuine seamless shopping experience where the friction of payment is absent, or at least so negligible as to not evoke any form of dissatisfaction?

As with anything done well in life, it starts with design; and in this case, the design starts with the customer. What is not required is a technological response that efficiently adds whizzy new features while removing a few milliseconds in the process. Rather, a clear understanding of the outcome sought and the main elements that make up the activity are required. The customer perspective is simple: I have found my goods and would now like to enjoy them.

This means we need to consider not just the mechanical elements necessary to process a payment, but also the emotional process and the flow of senses and reactions it can precipitate. If we consider the following four design principles, then perhaps the goal can be achieved—where the best payment experience is the one you don't even remember.

  • Simple: The easiest way to avoid friction is to design it out and keep everything as simple as it needs to be, ensuring that any complexity is present only in so far as it has to be there to support compliance. Let the merchant do the work while letting customers think forward to the enjoyment of their new purchases.
  • Quick: The fastest route between two points is always a straight line, and the same principle applies when designing a payment routine. Keep it simple, minimize the fuss, ensure all aspects are designed to perform and then maintain it over time to keep it healthy. Like removing a sticking plaster, if it is over in a flash, then there is little upset to remember.
  • Choice: The options on offer must cater to the route customers' wishes to use (such as card and card scheme, credit or debit, cash, alternative payment) as well the mode of payment (contactless, online, POS, self-serve, mobile POS, for example). The range of options offered by the payments industry has been at the heart of helping the retailer get closer to the kind of experience a customer would design—anytime, anywhere, anyhow.
  • Trust: Above all else, everything in the process must exude confidence—confidence that all is well, secure, safe and will not give rise to remorse or recourse later. Our modern payment methods are transactions founded on trust, and without it as a securing foundation, all the good design in the world will simply fall away.

So, how hard can it be? We have the tools and technology at our disposal. Perhaps it's time to review what is currently on offer through the eyes of customers, testing how close your reality is to what they would design themselves. end of article

Simon Fairbairn is head of professional services/EMEA for Ingenico, a Worldline company. Take a look around the new Payments Landscape in this Ingenico white paper with a special focus on the impacts to consumer behavior: www.ingenico.com/payment-landscape-new-normal. To reach Simon, please email simon.fairbairn@ingenico.com.

The Green Sheet Inc. is now a proud affiliate of Bankcard Life, a premier community that provides industry-leading training and resources for payment professionals. Click here for more information.

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