Picking and utilizing a merchant account company can feel overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be if you know what to expect. Before you settle with a processing partner, let some of the leading experts in the industry tell you what you need to know about getting the most from your merchant account service.
Merchant account services should take care of your business. According to Samuel Ninh, a digital marketing specialist at Cayan, “You want to look for a company that truly cares about your business: A company that takes the time to learn about your specific business and customizes the account to your specific business needs. Not every business is the same, so not every merchant account should be the same.”
Shawn Silver, executive vice president of Payment Cloud, believes that merchants should be looking for transparency and fair pricing and fees. Merchant services need transparency because merchants want clear communication. Merchants will feel more confident in their service providers if they feel like they know precisely how much they are paying and the services that are being provided. Ninh also agrees with Silver on fees. Ninh advises merchants not to sign up just because of rates listed online. Prices that seem great online may have a catch and leave you with a final bill you weren’t expecting. Companies with termination fees should also be avoided, because if by chance you do get involved with a merchant service that doesn’t work for you, you don’t want to be stuck with them. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and be persistent to ensure you are getting the right price for your business.
Jenn Reichenbacher, the senior vice president of marketing and co-leader of direct sales at iPayment, advises merchants to look at the in-house service and support a processing partner offers after they have ensured a company has competitive and transparent pricing. “Solutions like point-of-sale, smart terminals, gift cards, merchant cash advance, etc. should all be an option for the merchant should he or she want a broader payment acceptance solution for their business.”
“Payment processors today need to be selling more than just a merchant account,” Reichenbacher said. Merchants need to expect more from their processing partner. After looking for the basics a company should have, you need to know what services you will be provided. When you first partner with a merchant account service, you shouldn’t have trouble getting started. “Being vocal about what’s needed to get the account setup in terms of documentation is important, as well as keeping merchants updated throughout the process,” Silver said. “Also, getting things done in a timely manner is expected as well.”
Once you start working with your merchant service company, you should expect to have knowledgeable contacts in all areas of expertise, according to Nihn. This can include sales representatives, customer service, and tech support-agents. Any company can offer you a wide variety of services, but if they don’t back it up with good customer support, then it is worthless. You want a company that will support your business, not neglect it.
Once you know your company will take care of you, you want the added features that set good merchant account services apart from the bad ones. For example, according to Reichenbacher, “...examples would include a solution like Clover, which is a completely customizable and flexible business management solution, or POS where the merchant has complete control. Companies should also be offering security assistance and breach protection especially in light of recent occurrences and, of course, complimentary, in-house customer service and technical support.”
Your business is constantly growing and so is the merchant account industry. “There are always new advancements and trends on the rise in the merchant account industry,” Nihn said. Be sure to pay attention to what new technology and services your company might offer, because it’s one thing to take advantage of what your processing partner already has, but it’s another to stay up-to-date on how they are changing.
Silver said payments are getting faster and contactless in terms of Europay, MasterCard, and Visa (EMV) technology. He has seen that merchants are getting smarter, so to compete with that, merchant account companies have to give them more. Security is something else that is updating. Merchants want to feel safe, and new technology is allowing that.
“Small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) for sure still need to find a secure, cost-effective solution for their business, whether it’s online, in-store, over the phone and/or on-the-go, but right now there is so much more value to the SMB that’s accessible through their merchant account provider partnership. Smart terminals, integrated loyalty, gift, and other powerful, yet affordable business management applications, more robust point-of-sale solutions and so much more.” Reinbacher said.
Some of the most popular upcoming trends, according to Nihn, are different forms of payments such as EMV transactions, near field communication (NFC) transactions like Apple Pay, Samsung Pay, and other mobile wallets in addition to QR like transactions. Nihn would say Apple Pay and other mobile wallets are going to become more relevant and make a big splash in 2018.
Whether you are looking for a merchant service company or are with one already, you should be making the most of what a company has to offer. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, and be sure to compare the strengths and weaknesses of different companies to find the best fit for your business. Tools like BestCompany.com can help you narrow down your options and make a decision.