All businesses strive to do right by their customers. It's long-held wisdom that it's easier to get a repeat customer than a new one, so we want to do everything we can to ensure that customers want to purchase our products and services again and again. One strategic way to do this is through payment flexibility.
Today's Payment Options Are Greater Than Ever
Let's start by reviewing payment forms available to customers today, because they are constantly evolving. The use of checks continues to diminish, even as banks offer easy ways to issue them online. Credit and debit cards remain a staple, but instant transfer services are increasing in popularity. These services are simple to set up, and payments funnel directly into your accounting software system.
Even if the world stood still and new technology wasn't always coming on the scene, customers would routinely change credit cards, banks or transfer services. You don't want to lose them just because they begin using a method you don't accept.
Customers are also paying for products and services via cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin. Offering this type of payment flexibility can help attract and retain some customers and probably assist with your forward-thinking reputation, but there are risks involved. For one, most of these currencies are still volatile, meaning you can't always predict the value with any accuracy. You will also have security concerns that crop up. Cryptocurrencies are more useful for businesses, however, in that transactions are final. Because a customer can't reverse a Bitcoin payment, you won't have to contend with the most irritating of all payment issues—the chargeback.
Should you have customers who buy the same items regularly or buy items that are prohibitively expensive, payment flexibility can involve timing. Consider offering your customers options to set up monthly payment plans. This allows for customers to place larger purchases into a monthly payment plan.
Payment Flexibility Might Make the Difference
It can be helpful to accept several payment forms and schedules. The dizzying number of options is only one factor. Another is that customers are fickle. Even if the world stood still and new technology wasn't always coming on the scene, customers would routinely change credit cards, banks or transfer services. You don't want to lose them just because they begin using a method you don't accept.
To that end, I still see a big payment flexibility problem with cash-only businesses. I can't count the number of times I've been in a store or restaurant and have had to walk out because I didn't have enough cash to pay fully. Considering all the payment options we just described and the general decrease of cash in people's wallets as a result, there's little sense in remaining a cash-only operation. Yes, some of these methods cost the business money. But are those fees more than the total sum of a lost customer's items?
In some areas of Asia, most everyday transactions are already conducted via mobile devices, and soon, payment methods like biometrics (i.e. paying with a finger or eye scan linked to your bank account) may become commonplace. If it seems overwhelming, remember that payment flexibility isn't just good for customers. It's helpful for business owners as well, because it promotes faster and more complete payments and signals to customers that you're on their side.
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