Successful marketing and promotional efforts aren’t enough to guarantee that interested prospects turn into paying customers.
To do so, your customers’ payment experience must be as seamless as possible — from start to finish.
Here are a few ways all small businesses can make the payment process easier for clients.
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Don’t Force Them Into Your System
Customer payment preference can be contextual based on the customer’s personal finances, the amount and type of purchase, the level of trust she has in your product, and how much time she is willing to wait in line at the point of sale. In fact, the only predictable factor when it comes to payment preference is that customers want the ability to choose.
According to experts at ColumnFive Media report, 56 percent of online shoppers expect that they’ll have that convenience, regardless of where they shop, or what they buy. Consider every type of customer you could potentially serve, and what forms of payments will meet that consumer’s needs, including cash, credit and debit cards, gift cards, mobile payments and mobile wallets.
Educate Your Customers on New Technologies
The payments industry has seen rapid innovation over the last decade, with new payment options like peer-to-peer transfers executed through text message, mobile payments, mobile wallets and virtual currency.
Don’t assume that your customers are familiar with the newest payment technologies, or conclude that they’re not willing to try them just because they haven’t done so yet. In the case of mobile payments, for example, an online survey conducted by Walker Sands indicated that 40 percent of consumers used a mobile payment application in 2014, representing an adoption rate increase of nearly 10 percent from a year earlier.
Seize the opportunity to educate customers on the payment technologies that will give them a better experience with your business. If you see customers waiting in line at a traditional point of sale, for example, offer customers who are interested in avoiding the wait to give mobile payments a try. Not only might your operational efficiency increase as a result, it’s an easy way to establish a rapport with customers, and communicate that your priority is to provide an optimal customer experience.
Eliminate Bottlenecks Wherever Possible
Making your payment processes easier for customers requires an understanding of what is hindering their ability to complete payments quickly, in every channel you sell — including online, in-store, and at remote or pop-up events.
In the case of online sales, for example, KISS Metrics reveals that nearly 50 percent of customers have had issues with websites that do not format properly based on their device. (Not only do such issues lead to lost sales on that site visit, nearly 80 percent of customers who have had a poor experience don’t consider buying from the site again).
A study by Smashing Magazine indicates that forcing online shoppers to create an account before they can make a purchase is another common error merchants make in their payment processes that leads to lost sales. Businesses that force customers into their processes by accepting only cash hinder their revenue potential, as well.
If you sell online, examine site statistics to understand what pages most customers abandon their activity on, in order to identify where you could make usability improvements. For in-store sales, consider the customer’s perception of your checkout processes, and how an alternative payment option could improve her experience.
Replicate the Best Practices of Top Retailers
As a small business, you may have a limited ability to conduct a robust analysis about purchase behavior — but you can take a cue from retailers that set the tone for customer service. Amazon, for example, gives customers the ability to pay using a variety of methods, including the ability to apply rewards they’ve earned for discounts before checkout. Apple stores replaced traditional checkout lines with the ability to pay anywhere in the store, using mobile payments.
Related Article: Don't Believe Everything You Hear: Myths About Mobile Payments
Today’s customers expect convenience when they pay — and they have plenty of choices when it comes to deciding where to purchase. Making payments easy for customers starts with seeing your processes through their viewpoint, staying current with the latest payment technologies, and educating staff and customers about them. As the payments industry continues to evolve, ensure you are committed to improving your business processes.