Is payment your achilles heel?

According to American Express, 78% of consumers have bailed on a transaction or not made an intended purchase because of a poor service experience! So, is the way your customers pay a weakness that’s silently holding back the potential in your business? Because a poor customer experience (CX) at the point of payment will mean your business is not achieving its potential. The chances are you won’t really know how much you’re missing out on, because it can be pretty hard to track. Sure, you can see things like cart abandonment, but life is rarely that straightforward.


It’s pretty likely that actually, you haven’t got this right!

Do we delude ourselves? A 2015 IBM and Econsultancy survey found that while 69% of brands felt they were delivering a superior customer experience, only 31% of customers felt the same. That’s pretty thought provoking! It’s not just because of payment of course, but this is a very important and often overlooked element of CX. How can you improve the way you deliver a joined-up experience at the point of purchase? You don’t want to lose customers at this point, but the trouble is, payment gateways are often inadequate and may not really fit your organisation and channel as well as you would like. The user experience needs to be consistently good whatever the device too, and with more people using mobiles, can you be confident that you’ve optimised that experience? There’s always a serious risk you’ll fail to deliver the experience that the customer expects because you haven’t got a joined-up experience. There are so many moving parts in the customer journey, user experience and user interface, let alone your company’s behind-the-scenes capabilities. What the customer sees is just the tip of the iceberg: you’ll need to have all those things the customer doesn’t see like finance, technical, marketing and customer service all working in harmony.

All too often these functions and processes exist in silos, even in the smallest companies, so it can be pretty challenging to get them working seamlessly together.

And that’s the heart of the problem. If there’s no harmonisation between the critical parts of the system it’ll be clunky and hard to use, so there’s no way you’ll delight the customer with an intuitive experience that they’ll enjoy using.

All the moving parts: the payments gateway, whether one-off or subscription, card storage, receipting, tax, currency, back-office processes, and so on, need to be seamless or it’ll lead to dissatisfied customers and lost sales opportunities. This challenge is actually a huge opportunity, as research by McKinsey & Co has also found that brands that improve their customer experience see revenues increase as much as 10 to 15 percent while also lowering the cost to serve by 15 to 20 percent.

What can you do about it?

Start simple, by asking some basic questions: what do my customers want, and how do they want it? It might sound obvious, but have you asked them? Do you understand where you can place your “listening posts” to hear what they are saying – as well as what they are doing?

The thing with customers is that they don’t just compare you to your competitors, actually they think about the very best experiences they’ve had and measure you against those. So don’t rest easy and think everything’s ok just because you’ve got some type of payment gateway in place that “sort-of-looks-like-your-competitors-but-is-better.” Don’t settle for that!

Take trouble to understand your customers. Once you’re sure that you know what their preferences are, think about the customer journey, step-by-step. In detail. And test it with real people! What you want to know is how you can make it as simple, quick, painless and secure as possible.

Great in theory, I hear you say. And that’s where it all becomes tricky. Payment needs to be integral to the organisation, not another unconnected system. The customer wants it to be simple and easy to use. Your company wants it to be relevant and controllable. A solution that takes all the tricky pieces of technology involved in a customer payment and turns them into a consistent, easy to use, customer and business-friendly set of capabilities will be a winner. And all the evidence points to an increase in your revenue, while your cost to serve will fall long-term. That has to be worth the effort!

About the author

Miles Cheetham is a Director of CX New Product Development, and specialises in customer-experience led product development as a well-regarded consultant with some of the world’s biggest brands.


(I) American Express Survey, 2011

(II) IBM and Econsultancy, 2015

(III) McKinsey & Co, 2015