Essential details for finding a merchant service provider
The following is a guest post by John Rampton, founder and CEO, Due.
In operating an online business or physical storefront, it’s important to have the right merchant service provider for your needs so that you can deliver an exceptional customer experience that keeps them coming back and that they share with others.
To help you narrow down your search to the best merchant services for your business, there are a number of details to consider beyond rates. In this case, cost involves so much more than just a monthly fee – by not considering certain aspects of the transaction process, it could “cost” you customers and your reputation, not to mention fees and penalties.
Matches Your Business Needs
Numerous providers of merchant services have emerged to serve niche business needs. For example, some work with high-risk businesses while others specialize in online and mobile payments. Then there are those that work with large retailers and some opt to serve the small business owner.
You need to define your business needs based on these parameters and then look for the merchant providers that fit those criteria. By starting your search this way, you will be able to narrow the field quickly. You want to be able to find a provider that understands the unique requirements and issues associated with your type of business so they can serve you better and help you address those pain points.
Gives You the Features That Count
Some of the most critical areas with today’s payment processing includes being PCI compliant and having a solid security framework to protect your customers’ information and your business. Although other features may be cool to have, your focus should be on these two areas because they will have the most impact on your business in a good or bad way, depending on what a merchant service provider can deliver. Ask how they ensure your compliance and security and see if they are the kind of partner that works with you to educate you on how to avoid fraud like chargebacks or tell you ways to proactively shut down suspicious activity.
Works on a Month-to-Month Basis
You don’t want to work with a merchant account provider that locks you into a contract for years to come. Instead, your next step is to identify those potential partners that offer a month-to-month arrangement without any early termination fees.
It’s important to have the flexibility to change to a new company should you be dissatisfied with the service due to more fees, a lack of critical features, and/or poor customer support. If you get as far as to pick your merchant services partner, read all the small print on anything you are required to sign to ensure they are not locking you down or charging you to get out.
Delivers Support Around the Clock
Your business most likely never closes if you operate it online or work with customers around the world, and it’s guaranteed that any issues a customer may experience with transactions will not come between the hours of 9-to-5, Monday to Friday. That's just life. Expect it.
They will hit you on a weekend when many providers have no technical support to help you work through the issue and keep your customers happy.
However, there are merchant services companies that recognize the importance of providing round-the-clock assistance. Besides offering a call center, look for other support features like live chat, social media, user forums, email tickets, and online content directed at answering common issues.
Has Great Reviews
It’s important to consider the experiences of other businesses like yours. The online world of reviews and review apps has made it so much easier to get more input.
Prior to that, it was difficult to know whom to contact. These review sites often have very comprehensive reviews that can provide insights into how well a merchant service provider handles various business needs, problems, and situations. The more reviews you can find, the better sense you’ll get if that company is for you. It’s important to also check with sites like the Better Business Bureau to make sure there are no complaints related to that merchant service account provider.
Doesn’t Try to Hit You with Equipment Leases
If your business requires POS equipment, don’t feel pressured into a long-term equipment lease. You can buy your own equipment and simply look for a merchant service provider that can handle the transaction part for you and easily integrate with the equipment you bought.
Gives You a Trial Period
One of the best ways to see if all the details fit for you is to take the merchant services for a spin with an offer of a trial period. This gives you an opportunity to see how their service works and it lives up to expectations.
About the Author
John Rampton is an entrepreneur, investor, online marketing guru, and startup enthusiast. He is the founder of the online invoicing company Due. John is best-known as an entrepreneur and connector. He was recently named #2 on Top 50 Online Influencers in the World by Entrepreneur Magazine and a Blogging Expert by Time. He currently advises several companies in the San Francisco Bay area.