Implementing new payments technology can potentially help companies stay agile, competitive, and aligned to consumers’ expectations of speed and reliability.
At the same time, swapping out one payments solution for another often changes the purchase experience significantly. Even the smallest tweaks and additions evolve your processes on both the back- and front-end, potentially creating ripple effects in customer satisfaction and operational effectiveness.
Researching new solutions and conducting vendor analyses is an important part of the process. Decision-makers, however, shouldn’t take a checklist approach to ticking off tools and features. Instead, stakeholders would be well-advised to consider how a new solution can evolve the experience for the better across each of the following five areas.
1. Interface and Touchpoints
The customer experience when completing payments is often viewed as a reflection of the business’ commitment customer satisfaction. Which is to say, decision-makers should review new solutions from the point of view of their customers, seeking out intuitive, attractive visual interfaces that offer the same elegance and convenience as everyday consumer applications.
Consumers also expect a holistic visual experience across every portal—be it app, website, email, or otherwise. A new payments solution should ideally provide customization options which allow companies to reinforce the look and feel of their brand throughout the payment experience.
Interfaces should also be seamless enough that minimal point-of-purchase data input is required beyond payment method and address. And if a new solution creates more touchpoints for data-input than the existing payments process, the added keystrokes must create high-value insights: New data-capture points that build better understanding of the customer journey may be worthwhile. Otherwise, it could very well just be counterproductive visual noise.
2. Speed to Payment
Just as interfaces should deliver the ease and elegance consumers want, the speed and reliability of a payments solution must also reach best-of-breed performance—or very close to it.
Based on the scope of expected payments volume, a vendor should be able to provide clear expectations on what kind of IT and connectivity requirements are necessary for always-on reliability—and present a list of referenceable customers who can speak to proven results.
Speed to payment isn’t simply about bandwidth, however. Customers are more likely to complete purchases when they flow through only two to three screens to complete the payments process—ideally even fewer, taking contextual commerce into account.
Slow the process down with more steps than that—trying to add sales opportunities such as upgrade or recommendations—and companies risk losing the interest of sometimes fickle customers at crucial moments.
To drive meaningful revenue, every step of the payments flow must be highly pertinent to customers' existing purchases, with any nudging restricted to timely offers or personalized products. For anything else, adding a “skip to payment” button can help companies avoid diverting customer attention with irrelevant information.
3. Back-end Experience
Changing solutions can create risks around how data is managed or used internally, potentially leading to operational inefficiencies or security issues.
Stakeholders know that transition periods—such as software installations and data migrations—call for extra caution with data management. The risks, however, do not end there. When a company tacks a new solution onto its existing tech stack, it may create new needs for data to regularly be pulled, collated, or shifted across platforms.
Stakeholders should keep an eye out for areas in which back-end repeatable processes could potentially be automated to reduce errors or inefficiencies. A few features to consider:
- How will those back-end activities operate in practice?
- Will employees have to look for old information in new places?
- How will access and use be controlled and monitored?
- Are there integrations and APIs that can move data without manual downloads?
Generally speaking, the fewer areas where manual effort is required on the back-end, the better. Digital features from a new solution ideally will make every aspect of payments processes more trackable—in customer- and employee-facing areas alike.
4. Reporting and Insights
The review process for a new payments solution should consider the full breadth of analytics, insights, and business intelligence available through the end-to-end toolset—spanning both management reporting and operational performance. Non-traditional metrics such as run-time or the volume of service queries ultimately impact conversions and revenue, which essentially means the two reporting areas are highly intertwined.
As more and more of the back-end experience is digitized and automated, companies may discover the number of reports required to understand financial outcomes can be consolidated. Since a common byproduct of adopting new technologies is a reduction in duplicative processes, stakeholders would be wise to search for areas of operational redundancy during the early phases of vendor selection and review.
APIs and integrations can also link in data streams from other softwares for higher quality reporting and analytics. With significant effort toward understanding activity and trends, companies can even use payments information as a significant tool in their predictive intelligence toolset unlocking insights into marketing and sales performance.
5. Implementation and Onramp
Robust knowledge sharing is often the difference between success and failure for any enterprise technology. And in payments, the added sensitivities of high-value financial information and data protection requirements only make training all the more important.
Stakeholders should have straightforward conversations with potential vendors about how implementation and onboarding will take place at both the tactical and strategic levels.
Needs will depend on the scope and breadth of the change, but the expectations should be clear: What learning tools are available? How would power users be trained to help ramp-up others? What roles across the business need the most knowledge to make value of back-end features?
With that information, companies can then plot internal implementation teams and schedules with success metrics in mind. To ensure the solution benefits the businesses-customer relationship in a high-value way, stakeholders should map out clear goals for areas of improvement in performance or satisfaction. Reviewing and re-assessing effectiveness over time is key to maintaining the agility a new payments solution can deliver.