Payments are a vital part of every business, but haven’t really been given the attention they deserve until relatively recently. Previously, payment processes tended to be controlled by limited payment choice for customers, and there was no consideration to how the wider business might be affected.
Businesses and consumers alike need fast digital payments with as little friction as possible. Indeed, so embedded is this expectation in the post-pandemic business world that payments are now considered a core part of modern customer experience, to the point that organisations that can’t deliver will lose market share quickly. And given that 74% of consumers are likely to make purchasing decisions based on customer experience alone (more than price and brand combined), it’s a vital thing to get right.
While B2C payment innovations have progressed rapidly over the last few years, with consumers benefiting from speed and convenience, B2B has lagged behind. But now that is changing, partly due to the pandemic: with the need for much business to be done remotely, the ability to make secure, easy digital payments has evolved from a differentiator into a financial requirement.
But what are the exact demands that today’s customers want fulfilled? And how can a customer-centric approach be embraced from a technological perspective? This blog explores the how and why of driving success by putting customers first.
What customers want from payments
Customers will be much more inclined to return to a retailer if they feel valued by them, get a smooth buying experience first time, and if they get personalized offers at the checkout stage based on their buying history.
As part of this, there are six key factors behind a seamless, customer-focused payment experience that businesses should address (if they haven’t done so already):
Payments should be as quick and easy as possible (without compromising on security) - the use of secure one-touch payment options using face ID or fingerprint technology, such as Apple Pay and PayPal, has raised the bar in this area. Any distractions or digressions within the journey will increase the risk of cart abandonment.
The two main areas of convenience that customers are looking for are a website that is easy to navigate from one end of a buying journey to the other, such as clear displays of subtotals and shipping costs, and available options for payment. There should also be a user-friendly experience on all types of device so they can buy just as easily on the move. Given that cart abandonment averages globally are at 68% and rising, this is a key consideration.
Understandably, customers want 100% confidence that their payments and bank details are safe when carrying out a transaction. This means displaying security certificates from recognised bodies, and applying technologies like address verification and multi-factor authentication.
Customers are happier when they can use a payment method that works for them, rather than being compelled to use one that doesn’t make sense for their own financial arrangements. Instead, they want as much choice as possible: credit cards, debit cards, digital wallets, finance options (such as Klarna or PayPal Credit) as well as to be able to pay through local providers from their home country in their normal currency.
If errors or problems arise during a transaction, customers expect them to be resolved quickly and professionally - this is the point where payments and customer service often come together.
Look and feel is vital to inspiring customer confidence, so payment gateways should integrate seamlessly with the rest of the online buying journey, and that the feel and experience across different devices should be as similar as possible.
Why tech is essential for customer-focused payments
Enabling all this requires the right technological deployments, especially when business-specific challenges can often get in the way of the customer experience.
Many businesses have a tricky balancing act to strike between their suppliers who want to get paid faster, and their customers who often want more time to make payments. However, making it easier for customers to make those payments - and to make them quickly - can relieve some of the cashflow pressure that this issue can generate.
This is just one of the areas where companies can deploy technology, including automation, to improve the payment services they deliver to their customers. It can also help businesses manage and predict their finances with more certainty, better measure levels of financial risk, and uncover insights that can help them make more informed decisions in the future.
Taken to its fullest extent, a properly deployed payments strategy can become an asset to a business, a key differentiator in the minds of customers, and help support a business’s growth and profitability for many years to come. And at a more practical level, it allows an otherwise complex process to be simplified, so that productivity, efficiency and return on investment are all improved.
It’s one of the reasons that Ciklum has partnered with Stripe, so we can deliver the latest payment innovation to the customers that we support. It helps our customers drive competitive advantage, better integrate payments into buying journeys, and embed analytics tools to learn more about their customers’ needs and preferences.
Much of this might sound like it only really applies to B2C businesses, but it’s increasingly relevant in the B2B marketplace, too. Demands from B2B customers are changing, and they are increasingly expecting the same kinds of frictionless experiences that they get from their B2C transactions. This means that these types of innovation are just as important in B2B - and will become more so in the years to come.
Ultimately, it’s the organizations who take a customer-centric approach to how they develop technology that will be the most successful. While it might seem that this has to come at the expense of business efficiency or profitability, this doesn’t necessarily have to be the case. Investing in better, more comprehensive payment systems can deliver both flexibility for the customer, and a strong return on investment for the retailer, making it a win-win situation all round.
Learn more about our innovations for payments and the customer experience at Money20/20 Europe in Amsterdam on June 6-8. Visit our stand at the show (hall seven, stand E55) and discuss your specific use cases with our friendly team.