How to Future-Proof Your Payments Infrastructure
What can you do to scale your existing payments structure?
Have you ever visited a psychic or had someone use tarot cards to predict your future? Whether you are a believer or a skeptic of the supernatural, you can’t deny that there is something alluring about knowing what the future could hold for you. While the debate continues for whether people can truly predict the future, that does not mean that you cannot leverage processes and solutions currently available to ensure you are on the path that you want to be on. The same mindset can be applied to your existing payments technology at your business. If your business is stuck in the past and/or you have a team that is either apathetic or unwilling to adopt new payment methods, then your organization will suffer the ramifications in the long-run. And you don’t need a psychic or tarot cards to predict that.
Luckily, you do not need a crystal ball to show you how to scale your existing payment structure. There are some steps you can take that will benefit both your business and customers.
Here are 5 steps you can take to future-proof your payments infrastructure.
Step 1: Move Away From Paper-Based Methods of Handling Transactions
With most people checking their phones every 12 minutes, it should be no surprise that customers want and expect convenience, simplicity, and speed in their day-to-day tasks. One of those everyday tasks is making a payment. Paper credit card authorization forms are still a common way to collect payments, but in today’s smart-phone driven world, your business needs to digitize them if you want to make it convenient and easy for your customers to pay. Clinging to the old paper-based way of collecting credit card authorization forms will only continue to slow down how long it takes for your team to process payments. Nowadays, it is more disruptive for customers to have to print and scan an authorization form back to your business. It is also an inconvenience for businesses because they must take additional steps to ensure the paper credit card authorization forms are secure and only authorized people have access to it and maintain a log of who has access. These manual processes widen PCI scope at your company because there is more human exposure to the credit card data.
Did you know? You can fully digitize credit card authorization forms. This is a quicker, more secure, and PCI-compliant way rather than sending out paper forms that customers would have to print, fill out and sign, and then fax it back to you. When you eliminate those types of manual tasks, the turnaround time to receive a payment increases. And you are providing your customers a seamless way to take care of a normal task.
Step 2: Consider Offering a Subscription-Based Pricing Model and/or Alternative Payment Methods
Subscription-based pricing was pioneered by the magazine and newspaper industries. However, with the emergence of SaaS companies, Zuora’s Founder and CEO Tien Tzuo saw a growing movement that he coined the “Subscription Economy” which will only continue to gain popularity in the years to come. According to Gartner, by 2020, new software vendors and 80% of existing software vendors will offer subscription-based business models.
A pricing model does not solely define a business, however, if your business does not have flexibility in the types of payment methods that are offered, then you are at a disadvantage. A subscription model has value for both your business and customers. For businesses, it provides predictable cash flows, increases your customer base, and builds brand loyalty overtime. For customers, a subscription model offers them convenience. It adds simplicity to paying since it is recurring, and the amount is the same, so they can better manage their expenses.
If a subscription model is not an appropriate fit for your business, then consider offering alternative payment options such as digital wallets, ACH, or bank transfers. Both digital wallets and bank transfers are predicted to become the top two popular payments methods globally by 2021. These payment methods can be handled using smart phones making it easy for your customers to pay while they are on the go.
Transitioning to a subscription model does not have to occur overnight. It can be a gradual transition where customers are eased into it. You can keep your existing payment structure but offer this option and demonstrate the value that comes with moving to that option instead.
Step 3: Do Away with Homegrown Systems
Thanks to the power of mobility, we are living in a convenience-driven culture, but some people might admit that they are still creatures of habit. There are tasks that you continue doing simply because it is a habit, even if it is inefficient. However, your reasons for not finding a better method could be attributed to the process of searching for a new solution or just not having buy-in. The same can be said for your existing payments infrastructure. If your business is using various disjointed systems to get documents signed and collect credit card information, then it is a loss in productivity for your team. This was a challenge that the team at Millennium Systems International had experienced. Prior to using Zuora and Sertifi, their team was using a variety of homegrown and third-party systems to manage the customer acquisition process (executing agreements) and to administer the payment activity. This process lacked financial controls, caused delays in the acquisition process, and disrupted the on-boarding process. “There was a significant time lapse between acquisition and the commencement of service delivery which resulted in a poor customer experience (first experience more importantly),” said Millennium Systems International’s Chief Operating Officer Matthew Scudder.
While there is familiarity when it comes to using homegrown tools, there is typically more manual labor associated with it. When you move to a solution that does everything in one unified system, you regain that time back spent doing manual administrative tasks.
Step 4: Look for Tight Integrations Between Solutions
As your business continues to thrive, there comes a point where there is a dire need to streamline processes so that your team can operate more efficiently and provide your customers a better user experience.
When systems are not integrated, then there is disparate data living in different solutions. When data is living in multiple systems, this creates more manual tasks, such as data re-entry. That means there is an increased likelihood for human error. Disjointed internal systems impact your team’s productivity as well. These were obstacles that the Sales and Accounting teams at Millennium Systems International had been experiencing before utilizing Zuora for subscription billing and management, Sertifi for secure eSignature and payment collection, and Drawloop for contract generation.
Choosing a solution vendor that offers tight product integrations decreases the need for manual processes and saves your team time because tasks are streamlined in one cohesive solution.
“The ecosystem that we built out consisting of Zuora, Salesforce, Drawloop, and Sertifi created a turnkey solution for us, essentially transforming the manner in which we acquire customers and elevate the level of service provided there afterwards,” says Scudder of Millennium Systems International.
Tighter integrations keep business processes running smoothly and gives your business a competitive advantage because your team can work more efficiently since their day-to-day tasks are more manageable. For customers, you are giving them a more seamless experience with your business. By moving to an integrated system, Millennium Systems International was able to accomplish that.
Step 5: Maintain the Highest Level of Security Standards and Follow PCI Guidelines
Everyone is at risk for a data breach, particularly when hackers are becoming more adept at breaking into systems. It seems like every day we hear about another security breach. Unfortunately, breaches are detrimental to the future of your business. According to a study conducted by Ponemon Institute and IBM Security, it found that the average cost of a data breach worldwide is $3.86 million. That is a staggering amount, and once it happens to a business, it is difficult to come back from that.
The best methods to protect your business and your customers data are to evaluate your existing manual processes, establish a security plan that follows PCI-compliant guidelines, and educate your team about best practices in cybersecurity. Eliminating manual processes that potentially expose sensitive customer data and instilling a security-first company culture can go a long way in protecting your organization from a data breach. And when looking for an online payment solution, make sure the product has features such as credit card number verification, tokenization, 2-step authentication which safeguards sensitive data and reduces human exposure to it. These features can also decrease chargebacks and fraudulent activity. Everyone is vulnerable to data breaches, and it is critical to stay up-to-date on PCI-compliance and to educate your team, so they can be vigilant too.
If your business wants to remain competitive and relevant, then you need to incorporate new forms of payment technology into your existing infrastructure. Customers want a simple and hassle-free payment experience, and it is up to you to provide that or you risk losing them to your competitors.
Did you know that Sertifi has integrated Zuora’s payment technology into our closing solution? Users can send eSignatures and payment requests from Z-Quote. If you’re interested in learning more about the integration or seeing a quick demo, send us a message.
About the Author
As the Content Marketing Specialist at Sertifi, Chandra loves all things related to writing and reading. She supports the team with content creation and overseeing the social media channels. Outside of Sertifi, you can find her exploring Chicago, recipe testing, trying out a new fitness class, or planning her next trip so that she can add to her growing postcard collection.