4 Ways to Improve the Payment Experience
Teresa Walker, Executive Director, Commerce Solutions
April 11, 2016
The rapid increase in connected digital devices has changed how consumers shop for goods and services, but it has also dramatically changed how they pay for them. The marketplace is technologically complex and evolving fast, and the customer payment experience is emerging as an area ripe for innovation and improvement. We can look at the continued saturation of mobile devices in the marketplace as a window into how technology is changing the payment experience. Forrester Research reports that by the end of 2019, mobile payments in the US will grow to $142 billion. And according to a 2014 report from the Federal Reserve, 17 percent of US mobile phone users said they had used a mobile device to make a payment in the past year, most commonly for bill pay. Going forward, the technical challenges of facilitating online and mobile payments will accelerate, which may drive many businesses to consider how to improve their payment systems to better accommodate the needs and preferences of their customers. Doing so can have a multitude of benefits for businesses, which is why it’s essential to start tackling the challenge soon—starting with these four ways to improve your payment experience.
Provide more options. A recent report from ACI Worldwide and Ovum, “2015 Global Payments Insight: Bill Pay Services,” surveyed executives in billing organizations. The findings revealed that 75 percent of businesses believe their customers want more payment options, and nearly half (47 percent) of organizations expect that investing in more and better payment options and capabilities can improve the customer experience. It’s no surprise then that half of the businesses surveyed are evaluating at least eight new payment methods.
Simplify the process. Consider Fiserv’s case study on American Electric Power (AEP)—AEP found that their customers were frustrated and discouraged by an online payment process that required them to access a third-party system with a separate set of login credentials. During focus group discussions, AEP learned that customers wanted a simpler online payment process—including streamlined registration, improved online functionality and single sign-on for account access and payments. And by making tailored, customer-focused improvements to its payment systems, AEP not only advanced e-bill adoption for customers, but they also saw increased consumer satisfaction and reduced calls to the company’s customer support division. AEP’s experience reveals how a more nimble and modern payment system can improve not only the customer experience, but also the bottom line for businesses—which is actually what many companies are expecting. The Global Payments Insight study found that 44 percent of respondents believe that investing in improvements to payment systems could lead to reduced organizational costs.
Reduce fees. The Global Payments Insight study also found that both businesses and consumers agree that reducing the number of fees collected in the value chain—like the kind collected by credit card networks—would improve the payment experience. This can partly be addressed by forging direct relationships with banks—and according to the study, 85 percent of banks indicated they’re interested in working with businesses to reduce these types of costs.
Improve system security. A growing challenge to a positive payment experience is the increasing threat from hackers and cybercriminals. Internet security company Kaspersky Lab conducted a survey of Internet users around the world and found that 42 percent of respondents would use online payment platforms more often if they believed they were protected from cybertheft and cyberfraud. Kaspersky also found that 37 percent of respondents reported ending an online financial operation before completing it because they were concerned about security. Corporate consumers also appear to be cautious about mobile payments. According to the 2016 AFP Fraud Payments Survey, 76 percent of corporate practitioners report that their number one concern regarding mobile payments is the security of those payments. Thus, more secure online and mobile payment systems, such as ones that increase security through tokenization, can accommodate customer concerns as well as deliver a simple, intuitive payment experience.
Why Improving the Payment Experience Matters
Ultimately, providing customer-focused payment options can be a valuable opportunity to shape customer decision making and build a more positive brand experience. Steven Bernstein, J.P. Morgan’s US and Global ACH Business Development Manager, has worked extensively with clients to provide solutions for ACH and electronic payments. “People remember which companies are easy to work with and which ones have applications and services that are easy to use,” he said. “That’s especially important when you’re talking about the payment process, when a poor user experience can result in immediate drop-off—you lose people’s trust. But if you can get it right, you can amplify that trust and create a loyal customer base. And the bar for success is also relatively low—the litmus test should be, ‘Is your process secure, and is it easy for people to navigate?’ It’s that simple.” For businesses looking to differentiate themselves in a hypercompetitive, dynamic marketplace, a positive payment experience is one productive way to make an impact. Easier, more intuitive and more flexible payment methods underscore a positive brand experience while also facilitating payments and reducing overhead costs. And achieving those results may be an investment that pays for itself.