As a small-to-medium enterprise (SME) owner, you may take a lot of pride in offering unique, even groundbreaking products or services to your customers. But excellent products or services in themselves aren’t enough to sustain your business in the long run. There are other reasons why customers may choose to patronize your business, and one of the most important reasons is their payment experience with you. Smooth, convenient, and reliable payment services can convert one-time customers into loyal patrons. The opposite applies, too; even a single bad payment experience can drive a customer away forever.
In your efforts to improve your sales and bring fresh revenue to your business, put the focus on your payment system. Some of the improvements you can do include adding more inclusive payment options, streamlining your customers’ checkout experiences, and minimizing additional troubles on their end. To this end, we’ll fill you in on some tips on making your customers’ purchasing experiences all the more pleasant. You’ll learn about two things: the most common pain points with regard to payment, and the changes you should implement so you can address them.
In order to rethink your SME’s payment system, you first have to understand where the problems lie. These six items are the most common friction points customers experience when trying to purchase goods and services from small businesses.
Which of these apply to your situation? Take note so that you know where to direct your efforts.
One thing that’s sure to turn customers off - especially if they’re shopping online—is having to go through so many steps just to complete payment. It may be an issue of having to fill out long web forms that are longer than three pages. Or, it may be an issue of them having to key in the same details over and over again. In light of this, you may want to re-examine your checkout protocols to see if they are too long or repetitive.
Another thing that irritates customers is a slow confirmation process of their orders. They may be ready to pay you from the moment they check out. But any delay or lack of clarity on whether their order is confirmed may be more than enough to cause shopping cart abandonment. A problem like this emphasizes the value of proper expectation-setting and timely responses when it comes to managing an SME.
Yet another unfortunately common pain point is the lack of reliability for certain payment processing systems. Customers will get highly discouraged about their purchases if their payments don’t actually push through because of server errors or downtime. Thus, as the business owner, you have to choose the most reliable methods to secure payment. Along with choosing the most trusted payment gateways, you also have to be aware of when the external system is encountering problems.
Variety in payment options is just as important as variety in the items you sell. It’s not enough for today’s customers to have only one or two payment options for when they’re finally ready to pay for your products and services. If neither of those options are common or convenient enough to them, they will seek out another merchant or provider who can accommodate them. To remedy this, you will want to invest in multiple payment options for your customers, both online and offline.
Two of the biggest deal-breakers in every purchasing experience are added fees and hidden chargebacks. Your customers are already shelling out money for your item—and possibly for taxes and shipping fee - so chargebacks and fees may cause them to feel either inconvenienced or blindsided by you. Part of the solution is using payment platforms or services that are either free to use or require minimal fees. If the fees can’t be avoided, however, you have to be 100% transparent with your customers, from the very beginning, that they exist.
The last pain point may not be a fault of your business per se, but it’s still something that customers are extra watchful about. They may hesitate to complete a certain kind of transaction with your business because they fear credit card fraud or being phished for sensitive data. As a business owner, it is your responsibility to choose the most secure methods of payment for your goods and services. You must also be able to reassure your customers that their money - and their private data - are safe with you.
Now that you know what the most common problems are, it’s time to revamp your payment system to be of better service to your customers. Here are ten more action points you can take on behalf of your SME.
Few SME owners know this, but it’s extremely helpful to set the expectations for how your customer’s purchasing experience will go. Things that you can clarify to your customers before they even begin transacting with you are the following:
Knowing these will signal to your customers that they can trust you.
The next thing you should take care of are your payment options. The more viable channels you have for accepting payments, the higher your overall sales could be.
For physical stores, have your staff ready to accommodate the following modes of payment:
For online businesses, include the following in your store’s virtual checkout options:
If customers are guaranteed that they can pay using the method that’s most natural or convenient to
them, they will likely complete the purchase.
Another thing that can greatly enhance your customer’s payment experience is the freedom to pay from virtually anywhere they are. Customers’ ability to pay should go beyond your physical store or online store, which means you should also be able to accommodate payments during meetups and deliveries - even if it doesn`t involve cash.. To achieve this, consider having a portable payment processing device like the PayMaya ONE Lite just for your SME. This is a pocket-sized point-of-sale machine that can accept cashless payments from customer’s cards or e-wallets. Your staff can use it in- store, or they could take it with them to enable mobile or cashless-on-delivery payments from your customers. Your buyers or clients will likely appreciate the fact that you expanded your payment options and that they can settle dues wherever it’s most convenient.
Many SMEs are ready to commit to modernization as part of their growth plan. A big part of the modernization process has to do with making transactions more mobile-friendly, since many customers buy using their phones and tablets these days. You can make it a breeze for your customers to pay for your products by enhancing the mobile-friendliness of your transactions. You can hire a web developer to optimize your website for mobile payments. Alternatively, you can develop a mobile app that can be used for payments in-store or online. Customers pay attention to businesses that innovate and can engage them through their mobile devices - so make sure that you stay on their radar.
Out of all of the other steps in your customers’ payment experience, one thing should remain simple all throughout: checkout. Revisit your checkout process to make sure it can be completed within a few minutes, and with very few diversions. For an in-store experience, this can involve training your staff to handle individual payments as swiftly and as efficiently as possible. Online, it can be a matter of limiting your checkout to a couple of pages and allowing auto-fills for certain fields on the web form. Either way, once you re-envision your checkout to be more straightforward, succeeding checkouts will go even more smoothly for your customers.
Gone are the days when SMEs were dependent on pen-and-paper methods or using individual spreadsheets to take orders, record sales, and do accounting. One of the best things you could do for your modern-daySME is to automate many of its processes, including those that pertain to payment. The extra investment in automation technologies may make your order fulfillment and payment faster, more accurate, and less time-consuming. Your customers will be able to see this difference in the improvement of their own payment experiences with you.
Though more people have gravitated toward e-wallet and QR code payments, they are still considered new technologies by many Filipinos. Some of your customers - especially those belonging to earlier generations - may be hesitant about using these new payment technologies to transact with you. Their fears may rest on their money or their private data being compromised somehow. It would be of great comfort to them for you to confirm that payments made in-store or online are 100% safe and private. This you can do by sending a text or an email notification when they confirm payment.
Even if you’ve upgraded to reliable new payment systems, there’s always a chance that unforeseen circumstances will cause interruption in your services. You will have to anticipate the occasional server errors or downtime from your third-party payment providers. It would be good to extend some extra courtesy to your customers once you receive any news about impending payment problems. Announce it ahead that they might experience difficulty using the concerned mode of payment, either with a display or with a message on your site. Then, quickly direct them to an alternative so that their payments can still go through.
Your customer’s payment experience may not end when they check out. There’s a chance that other payment-related problems may arise, like payment for the wrong item, payment for the wrong quantity of products, putting the wrong shipping information, and the like. For these instances, you need to make sure that the human element of your payment system is capable of providing necessary assistance. Train whoever is responsible for customer support to be on top of these situations and to resolve the problems in the correct and most expedient manner.
Repeat customers are great to have, and you can turn one-time buyers into loyal patrons of your business by involving them in a rewards program. You can allow them to earn rewards points for a set minimum purchase, and then to use those points on their succeeding visits. The opportunity to pay for goods and services at discounted prices, thanks to those rewards points, will prove extremely handy to your customers. Because of your rewards system, you may see them return to your business a lot more often.
Ultimately, an efficient but flexible payment system will bring about welcome changes to your small business. The advantages to improving your SME’s payment system include the following.
With a smooth payment experience assured, customers are more likely to complete their purchases and less likely to abandon their carts. This alone could make a major difference in your sales for upcoming quarters.
Customers will root for a small business that is as innovative and professional as a big one. Your upgraded payment system will cultivate their trust and respect in your business or brand. In the small business sector, this kind of trust is valuable. It can lead more than one customer to choose you over someone else who sells similar products or services, and it can also encourage them to promote your business to people they know.
A well-maintained payment system is just one of the things you should achieve for good financial management practices in your company. Once you have a better handle on your payment processes and sales, your accounting, bookkeeping, and business compliance will be better, too.
If you aspire for your business to be bigger than it currently is, your payment system is among the first things you should examine. The capacity to generate bigger sales, as well as manage them, may be your ticket to scaling up and expanding your reach to newer markets. Customers may also share good things about their experience with your business, and as a consequence, promote it to more people who may end up patronizing your business, too.
Once it’s easy for your customers to transact with you, either online or in your brick-and-mortar store, things will look up for your company. Because of your efforts, you may be the first name your customers mention to others who are looking for products or services in your niche. So, don’t be afraid to put in the time, money, and hard work to upgrade this aspect of your business!