No matter the size of the business you run, one of the elements you always need to ensure is working properly is payment processing. This not only ensures that the finalization of transactions runs smoothly to get paid easily, but also that customers find your organization easy to deal with. When customers can pay using the method they prefer, they will be more likely to come back again in the future and recommend your venture to others.
One of the best ways to take the stress and hassle out of payment processing is to utilize a merchant services provider that will handle the transactions electronically on your behalf. However, selecting just one from the dozens out there can be tricky, especially if you don’t know what to look for. To make things easier, read on for three key questions you should ask a payment firm before you sign on the dotted line.
1. What Are the Total Costs Involved?
First, when comparing payment processing firms, it is important to get clear on what kind of pricing structure they each have, and what the total costs will be if you select them. Different merchant services providers charge in different ways and for various types of things, so make sure you’re comparing “apples with apples.” For example, while some firms charge a setup fee for getting your account created in their system, others will cover this for no extra cost.
Also, while many processors will use a flat-fee-per-transaction payment structure, whereby you are charged a particular percentage rate on each transaction, others may instead have a minimum monthly cost, plus extra fees billed for every transaction over a certain included number. Some firms will also reduce the cost per transaction once you achieve a certain volume of sales (either number or dollar value) per month, year, or other period.
To make sure you get the best deal for your business, you must estimate, as closely as possible, the number and value of transactions you will likely put through annually, and then weigh your options from there. It is best to select a firm that allows you to change plans if you receive more or less transactions than expected. Furthermore, always ask merchant services companies if they can offer volume discount options if you hit a specified sales target; while many firms won’t advertise this flexibility, they will provide it if you negotiate with them.
Something else to consider when it comes to payment costs is the amount of time a company will take to give you access to your cleared funds. While you might think all firms are the same, some can transfer funds within a day, while others may make you wait for a week or more. Keep in mind that having to wait longer for funds can significantly affect your cash flow and potentially be costlier for you in the long run.
2. What Type of Customer Support Is Provided?
Next, always ask your shortlist of payment providers about the availability of customer support if you sign up with them. While, of course, you hope that both the setup and daily running of your merchant services account will be simple, smooth, and stress free, it is common for issues to arise over time. Technology can have glitches and bugs can appear, so you need to have people to get information and support from if, and when, this occurs.
It is advisable to choose a payment processing firm that has a strong focus on customer service. Find a provider that makes support available 365 days of the year, and 24 hours a day. By doing this, you will ensure that if any problems arise in the future, you won’t miss out on sales or turn off customers who are frustrated by your payment system not working.
In addition, it helps to find a merchant services company that makes customer support available on numerous platforms. For example, you want to be able to get in touch with team members via phone, email, social media sites like Twitter or Facebook, and live chat.
3. How Secure Is the Payment Process?
Lastly, don’t forget about digital security. In this day and age, where hackers are constantly finding new ways to break into systems and access sensitive information, it is more important than ever to keep customer financial data safe. As such, always ask payment providers about their level of security and the factors they have in place to stop information from falling into the wrong hands.
Typically, the most secure platforms are those that use intricate encryption algorithms on all transactions; cater to top-level SSL certificates and require CVV2 verification; secure all customer billing addresses; and place the toughest restrictions on how data is sent and stored via the internet.