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.
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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