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Table of Contents

Lead Story

No train, no gain

News

Industry Update

Heartland clamps down on breach

Heartland's call to action

Money launderers game for online merchants

Friendly fraud raises fears

2009 Calendar of events

Features

Strong LINC in the payments chain

One council, one voice

Selling Prepaid

It's a wide, wide world of prepaid

Prepaid in brief

The prepaid landscape for 2009

Lessons learned from European prepaid

The benefits of tax refunds on plastic

Views

Make security a small-merchant priority

Scott Henry
VeriFone

Revisit that elevator speech

Biff Matthews
CardWare International

The long fingers of PCI

Ross Federgreen and Rick Allen

Education

Street SmartsSM:
Remain in service? Be of service

Jason Felts
Advanced Merchant Services Inc.

Stand by your plan

Jeff Fortney
Clearent LLC

Helping merchants help themselves

Christian Murray
Global eTelecom Inc.

Collecting opportunities

Curt Hensley
CSH Consulting

Totally tailored presentations

Daniel Wadleigh
Marketing Consultant

Get the FUD out of PCI

Tim Cranny
Panoptic Security Inc.

Company Profile

ProPay Inc.

ACH Payment Solutions

New Products

When taking debit becomes a snap

Snap-on Mobile Payment Device
Company: Motorola Inc.

A mobile printer for the payments jungle

EM 220
Company: Zebra Technologies Corp.

Inspiration

Ditch the dark side

Departments

Forum

Resource Guide

Datebook

Skyscraper Ad

The Green Sheet Online Edition

February 09, 2009  •  Issue 09:02:01

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Street SmartsSM

Remain in service? Be of service

By Jason Felts

As merchant level salespeople (MLSs), you make the sales. But it's your job to keep them as well. It's often said it's easier to keep customers than replace them.

But that doesn't always hold true. Certainly no company, including Advanced Merchant Services Inc., is perfect. We make mistakes, and so will you. The question becomes: Will you go out of your way to resolve problems to retain customers?

Seven key principles should be remembered to ensure customer service.

The forum speaketh

I sent a question regarding customer service to GS Online's MLS Forum. Here was the response.

"Be available if there is a problem, concern or question, and respond to an inquiry as quickly as possible. Visit all clients in person - at a minimum of quarterly.

"Communicate any developments that could or do affect a merchant, including PCI DSS updated info.

"Make a merchant clearly understand that you are providing far more than a monthly statement. Provide free paper to accounts that warrant it. Offer add-on services - as is often said, the easiest customer to market to is the one you already have.

"A vitally important component of providing exceptional service is that your ISO/MSP can do the same. Fortunately, mine excel in both customer and tech support.

"All of this leads to very high levels of retention, especially with larger accounts; they are much less likely to have an interest in reviewing or supplying the info for another processor's bid. And if they do, they are much more likely to call you before switching."

- Robert Dickerson

"It is far cheaper and easier to maintain the accounts you have, rather than always replacing one that left with a new one. I give all my merchants free paper, and I deliver.

"Let me explain this a little more. When I give my merchants free paper, I give them enough to last three to four months at a time. I have two reasons for this.

"First, they keep in contact with me every three to four months. Second, I trade paper for referrals... .

"I tell my merchants to focus on running their businesses, and I will take care of the credit card processing. They call me for everything: billing problems, tech support, anything.

"I recently had an ISO call me because they had questions for the merchant and the merchant told them to call me. I did not have the answers, so I did a three-way call with the merchant and ISO. Point being: A little service goes a long way."

- Sonny Gartin

"I've always believed that service is the most important issue in merchant processing. This past New Year's Eve, one of my restaurants called me at 9:30 p.m. because they ran out of paper and didn't realize it was their last roll. They were desperate.

"Good thing I'm a loser and I was home instead of at a party. I drove half an hour, dropped off the paper and went back home. They told me this is the reason they throw out everyone who walks in the store peddling credit card processing."

- Rob Appel

"It seems that we sometimes forget that service is the reason that we get paid residuals. So, naturally, the better we service our accounts, the greater the longevity will be for our existing customer base, and the more referrals will flow in from happy merchants. As others have pointed out, there is nothing like a personal visit to the merchant's location.

"A smile, a handshake and a warm 'thank you for your business' goes a long way in maintaining loyalty. If you have merchants that are long distances away, a telephone call every three to four months to make sure all is well with them means a lot.

"I answer my cell phone seven days a week, even when I am in the middle of pitching a prospective new account.

"Of course I keep it very brief, and before I hang up I tell them, 'You see, as I told you, I am not here just to get you good competitive rates on your processing fees, but also to give you top-notch service. I always answer the phone promptly in case one of my merchants is having a problem with his or her credit card terminal, as I would for you.'"

- David Hanlin

"Jason, the main 'service' item I provide - besides the obvious answer all calls, return all calls promptly, et cetera - is conducting a two-times per year (and sometimes quarterly) business review.

"What I do when I land an account is show them their net effective rate with their current processor and what I believe will be their new effective rate with us. After the first three months of processing with us, I conduct a business review by pulling their statements and reporting to them how we are doing.

"In all cases, their new effective rate is lower than their previous supplier and lower than what I forecasted, as I make a habit of under promising and over delivering.

"I have been in this industry for a short two years, but all my merchants tell me that I am the only one who has ever provided this type of service for them.

"I have helped many merchants learn how to lower their costs by processing more efficiently, and they appreciate it and know I am looking out for their business."

- Niles Crum

Father knows best

David Felts, my father and the Vice President of Sales at AMS, is on the front lines with our sales partners every day. As such, I asked him to share a few thoughts related to service from an MLS's perspective. His remarks follow:

That concludes my father's remarks. I'd like to thank him and the MLS Forum members who contributed to this article. In closing, remember this anonymous quote: "To my merchant, I may not have the answer, but I'll find it. I may not have the time, but I'll make it. I may not be the biggest, but I'll be the most committed to your success."

Jason A. Felts is the founder, President and Chief Executive Officer of Florida-based Advanced Merchant Services Inc., a registered ISO/MSP with HSBC Bank. From its onset, AMS has placed top priority on supporting and servicing its sales partners. The company launched ISOPro Motion, its private-label training program, to provide state-of-the-art sales tools and actively promote the success and long-term development of its partners. For more information, visit www.amspartner.com, call 888-355-VISA (8472), ext. 211, or e-mail Felts at jasonf@gotoams.com.

Notice to readers: These are archived articles. Contact names or information may be out of date. We regret any inconvenience.

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