Learn more: what you need to know about merchant services
When it comes time to select a merchant services provider, you should be ready to ask lots of questions. Since each company has unique needs related to payments processing, a merchant services provider should be willing and able to tailor systems to your business needs. Whether you're looking to explore other processing options or if you're just starting out in merchant services, here are the basic facts so you can make an informed decision.
1. Established leaders
Those who have worked in the field for a while have seen the many ways that merchants can suffer based on fly-by-night operations or loosely structured companies. Limited support or poorly designed equipment and features have led to countless mistakes and potentially devastating consequences. The type of experience that comes with an established merchant services provider is priceless at every step of the way, even if your upfront expenses may be a bit higher.
2. The customization conundrum
Merchant services should be designed for your specific business needs and goals, but how can a provider really tailor everything to each and every customer they service? It's not an exact science, but a good processing partner should be able to scale efficiently whether you employ 2 employees with 20 customers per day, 20 employees with 1,000 customers a day—or anywhere in between.
3. Real numbers
Any company can break out buzzwords like quality and value, but you should only be considering merchant services providers that can back up their claims. They may not be able to perform miracles for your business, but they should be able to save you precious resources like time, energy and money in a way that's actually measurable. You should be able to quantify exactly what you're paying for and how much it's all worth to you. For example, what would you pay to have 40 minutes more a day to yourself because you're not spending it staring at reports and reconciling payment discrepancies?
4. Keeping you informed
Communication is everything in today's world. So many businesses are sending out useless promotions and updates every day that mean absolutely nothing to you or your business. A merchant services provider needs to update you on what you should know about new laws and changes in technology. They should not be inundating you with constant emails that belong in your junk folder. You should feel you have a partner rather than a dictator that forces you to change. A reputable merchant services provider will alert customers to potential gaps in their current systems and promote better adoption of new measures to protect customer's data.
5. Support for chargebacks
Chargebacks happen—and it can take up lot of your valuable time to view, review and appropriately respond to each case. You should have someone to turn to so you don't lose money from scammers or irrationally angry customers. A good merchant service provider will provide guidance and support for chargebacks on a case-by-case basis—so you win the highest number of chargebacks possible.
6. 24/7/365 support
Criminals don't take Christmas off, so neither should your payment processor. You need access to your merchant services support at all times with experts who have the power to take immediate action. You should have to take the time to run down your story to three different people who can't help you.
7. A better payment experience
Try as you might, you simply can’t please each person who walks through your doors with the goods and services you offer. But, you can help to create a positive experience with your brand by improving the convenience and efficiency of every transaction your customers make. Your customers will appreciate that you can offer them secure payments, fast-moving lines and reliable POS terminals, and they will be more likely to become loyal customers for years to come.
8. A relationship you can trust
Your contacts at your merchant services provider don't have to be your best friend, but you should be able to trust them. A good account manager won't look for every possible means to upsell you on the latest equipment, but rather identify where the problems are and then work to fix to them. A trustworthy account manager wants your business to expand and grow, so they will make new service or product recommendations based on your best interest—not just on securing their bonus for that quarter. Cutthroat merchant services are generally out to increase their own bottom line, which can make for stressful and strained relationships.
9. The virtual world
These days, nearly every business has some sort of online presence—be it social media accounts, an eCommerce website or something else. In fact, today’s consumers have come to expect to be able to reach you through cyberspace. Processing online payments is rife with potential pitfalls for both provider and business. Criminals look for every mistake you make both in-person and from afar. While no one can guarantee you won't be hacked, good merchant services should be able to offer several prevention strategies from encryption to tokenization so there's very little chance of a breach.
10. Understanding your role
Your job is not to understand code, create terminals, read every new change to the law or keep up with every scam criminals use to access your data. Your job is to keep your customers happy and your business thriving. When you choose a partner who understands this, you don't have to worry about being overwhelmed with the nitty-gritty details of payments processing. You will be able to breathe easier knowing that you're in capable hands.
11. The science of choice
Chances are, you’ve probably had some bad things happen to you in life—both when you were prepared and when you weren’t. In those instances in which you were prepared, think about how valuable it was to have the necessary resources available to you, and how precious it was to have the help that you needed to trudge through it all. People in general aren't great at planning for their future, but it is a skill we can all work on. Choosing the right merchant services now can truly mean the difference between keeping your business afloat and losing it to a preventable mistake.