Xero Cloud Integrator expert Dan Fairbairn, from Ocius Digital, explains how making it easy for customers to pay is vital to good service in today’s competitive market.

Recently, I’ve noticed more and more businesses are making it difficult for me to transact with them. I’m sure that often these businesses don’t even realise the barriers they’re creating for themselves.

On the flip side, businesses that make it easy for their customers to pay for their goods and services are so much more pleasant to deal with, come more highly recommended, and in the long term, reap the financial benefits.

An everyday example are the increasingly popular EFTPOS minimums and surcharges businesses are implementing to recover bank fees. While on the surface they can make a lot of sense, do they leave customers with a great impression of the business?

Understanding the fee charges

Take a typical coffee shop. Many charge around $3.50 for a coffee. If a customer chooses to pay via EFTPOS, the cafe can likely expect a 15 to 40 cent charge, part of which goes to the EFTPOS provider and the bank that issued the card.

If you take the average cost of this coffee to the seller as $2, by absorbing the cost of the transaction and not charging a minimum fee, the business’s profit drops, from $1.50 to $1.10. They’ll need to sell about 25% more coffees to maintain the same profit level.

If the café has a natural flow of traffic and people know they can drop in and pay by EFTPOS at any time, without a minimum payment, this might be possible. But what happens to those businesses who choose the alternative and refuse to accept a transaction paid by card under a certain amount?

EFTPOS minimums are a roadblock

I recently grabbed breakfast at a café in the city. On leaving, I faced the situation where the business had a $20 minimum to pay with a card. Rather than walk to an ATM to get money before returning to pay, I offered to pay a dollar extra to cover their banking fee. I was told, “No sorry, that will put our register out”.

If you need a lesson on how not to transact in business with your customers, this is it! As consumers, we start to build mental maps in our heads of the businesses that do and don’t accept card transactions, choosing to take our business to the ones that accept cards without any fuss. That is, we seek out businesses who ‘make it easy’ for us.

Managing overheads, like card payment fees, is a challenge for smaller retailers. But by leveraging cloud technology to reduce overall operating costs in the back end, it becomes possible to re-invest a little more into making the revenue driving part of your business — the front of house — a customer-friendly experience.

Short-term loss vs long-term gain

But don’t just take this as a rant about EFTPOS minimums — there’s a lot more to it. Many businesses view a sales transaction as an isolated event, without realising the value of a lifelong relationship with a customer. If a transaction is handled poorly, like the one above, the result is more than the loss of a single sale. This isn’t just related to EFTPOS minimums, it extends to so many other parts of your business, both online and offline, where customers engage with you.

It’s important to understand the consequences of not properly servicing customers — it’s a lot less expensive to keep an existing customer than to recruit a new one. Make it easy.

Do you make it easy? Ask yourself the following questions:

  •  Can your customers order online or from their mobiles?
  •  If they can, can they pay online?
  •  Can your customers pay their bill online?
  •  Can your customers contact you online?
  •  If so, how many ways? Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Web Forms, Live Chat?
  •  Do you respond quickly?
  •  If customers come to your office, do you provide any provisions for their meeting (i.e. WiFi access, coffee, water, power points)?

At Ocius Digital, we strive to answer ‘yes’ to all of the above (although some are not completely relevant to what we do). A large part of running a successful company is ensuring your employees are as collaborative with clients as possible.

Since superior customer service is as much a mind-set as it is an activity, make sure your employees know that their job, first and foremost, is to service customers — and never take their business for granted.

Ocius Digital is a preferred Xero Cloud Integrator, used by accountants, bookkeepers and small business owners, all looking for a seamless migration into the cloud.