By Dave Yohe, Vice President of Marketing, BillingTree
When it comes to choosing a payment partner, you get what you pay for—a short-term gain in revenue savings often leads to long-term pain. For example, when buying a new car, the cheapest model might be attractive, but will it be worth saving a few extra dollars if it breaks down as soon as you drive it off the lot? A payment partner is no different. Here are four key areas businesses need to consider before selecting their next payment partner.
1. Don’t limit your technology options
As your business grows over time, so will its needs. Adopting options such as mobile payments or remote deposit capturing may not be something your business needs right now, but how can you be sure that it won’t in the future?
Payment technology is evolving fast. Having a payment partner with the capabilities to meet your needs, now and in the future, can save you a lot of time and hassle in the long run. Businesses cannot afford to limit their options by selecting a partner that can’t offer a wide range of products for customers.
Thinking about your customers is especially important as, just like businesses, their needs will also change. Smartphones and mobile payments are almost ubiquitous these days, especially with millennials. Make sure that your partner is invested in the latest technology to ensure you aren’t left behind and end up losing customers because you can’t offer what they want.
2. Look for hidden fees
So, you’ve selected the payment partner who has the technology that suits your needs and those of your customers. The integration goes smoothly and your customers are happy. But then the first bill arrives and you find that you’re being hit with extra charges and fees you didn’t think were part of the deal.
What seems like an unbelievably low price for payment technologies and services is usually exactly that. Many payment providers will draw businesses in with low costs, and hide expensive charges in the small print.
Make sure when you sign on the dotted line you know exactly what the fees cover, whether it’s for returns, refunds, monthly minimums or anything else. Only when the fees are added can you work out if the final cost is as good a value as you first thought it was.
3. Compliance is king
Compliance should be a top priority when it comes to selecting a payment partner. Breaches of payment data can have serious effects on revenue, brand trust and customer experience. The well-known data breach of retailer Target in 2013 affected more than 41million customer payment accounts and cost the company over $50 million in legal fees and compensation.
When choosing a payment partner, make sure your data will be secure and find out the certifications and ratings of partners. PCI, SSAE, HIPPA and BBB are the ones to look out for and, if there’s no sign of a rating or certification, it’s highly likely the provider you are looking at doesn’t have them, or at best isn’t at a high enough standard to protect your business.
Partnering with a company that has a chief compliance officer or a compliance and risk team is usually a good sign that they take data security seriously.
4. Painless payments means reliable payments
No customer likes making a payment, so the least you can do as a business is make the process as painless as possible. Having multiple payment options can help. For example, setting up a monthly payment plan can make sure customers pay on time without having to log in to their account every time. It can also be a help to businesses as there is a constant, guaranteed stream of revenue coming in every month.
In order for this to work, the payment service needs to be completely reliable. System downtime leaves no way for customers to make a payment and leaves businesses out of pocket. Look for payment partners that have multiple in-house or best-of-breed products rather than simply third-party technologies or gateways. This gives them more control over uptime, as they aren’t solely reliant on outside factors when issues or downtime occurs.
This includes the relationship the payment partner has with banks. A partner with a large network of banks means if one banking system goes down, you and your customers won’t be left in the lurch. Get to know which banks your preferred partner does and doesn’t have contact with to get a better understanding of how reliable their banking network is likely to be.
Quality over quantity
When it comes to choosing a payment provider, saving a few dollars on what seems like the deal of a century may come back to haunt you. Don’t get caught out when it’s too late – ask the questions that relate to the key areas in your business. Going through these four areas with your payment partner will help you stay compliant, profitable and popular with customers while the payments industry continues to evolve.
Dave Yohe leads the corporate marketing team at BillingTree. His responsibilities include marketing, lead generation, advertising, tradeshows, public relations, marcom, and branding. Additional focus is spent on Analyst Relations and New Market Penetration. Dave joined BillingTree in February 2010 after a multi-year leadership role with online fraud detection and prevention firm the 41st Parameter. He has more than 26 years’ experience in marketing and advertising.