Key Traits of a Great Merchant Services Provider
The old adage is true: it pays to shop around. And that couldn’t be more true when it comes to signing with a merchant services provider. Some providers offer lower rates, but then aren’t there to support you when your systems unexpectedly go down during your peak business hours. Other providers are continually churning out the latest-and-greatest POS systems and business applications, but the cost is far out of reach for many small to mid-sized businesses. And, not to mention, these systems probably offer many features that most operators will never even use.
A merchant services provider should go beyond just offering you just good credit card processing value for your dollar. Here’s what we think your business should look for in a great merchant services provider:
- Provides secure, reliable processing
- Serves as a consultative partner
- Uses a fee structure you can understand
- Provides excellent customer service
- Takes the time to get to know your business
- Offers solutions that are customizable
Provides secure, reliable processing
Sure this may seem obvious, but it's important to partner with a merchant services provider who offers reliable payment processing, around the clock, on a secure network. The payments processor should provide secure processing with features that you and your staff can understand, and that will integrate with your daily workflows. Ask how the provider will work to secure you and your customers’ data and safeguard it from cyber hackers. Make sure they have back-up processes in place in case networks go down. Don’t partner with a payments processor who leaves any sensitive data or systems vulnerable to attack.
Serves as a consultative partner
Serving as a true consultative partner means working with a merchant services provider who is deeply invested in your business’s success. That provider helps you understand and stay abreast of important industry happenings such as:
- Achieving and maintaining PCI compliance
- Accepting and understanding your liability related to EMV chip cards
- Being aware of ever-shifting card brand and government rules and regulations
- Implementing card network updates into your processes
Uses a fee structure you can understand
Not only should you never feel overcharged by your merchant services provider, but you should feel as though its fee structure is transparent and consistent. From the time you are researching merchant service providers, through set up and onboarding, to the day you receive your first invoice, all fees and charges should be fully explained to you. That way, you can factor your merchant services charges into your regular accounting and not be stuck with paying more than you had budgeted.
A great merchant services partner uses a fee structure that you can actually understand—without surprises or gimmicks. Some payments processors can leave you feeling tricked or taken advantage of with their convoluted fee and charge structures, but it shouldn’t be that way. Choose a well-respected merchant services credit card processing partner that has a history of treating their merchant well.
Provides excellent customer service
If you’re like most businesses, working 9 to 5 is a thing of dreams. Working hard to build and grow your business is a nearly 24/7 endeavor. So, it’s important that you partner with a payments processor that is also available for support any time of the day or night, weekends or holidays. If your POS terminal or network goes down, don’t risk losing customers and sales just because it’s after 5pm and no one is available at your merchant services company to assist you. A great merchant services provider offers exceptional customer service around the clock to keep up with the demands of your business.
Takes the time to get to know your business
Partner with a merchant services provider who will take the time to get to know your business and your industry. Even if you choose a merchant services provider who specializes in serving merchants in your industry, they should still take the time to ask you questions and listen to your business challenges. In this way, they can help get you set up on the system that is right for you and will work well for you and your staff for years to come.
A great merchant services partner takes the time to truly listen to your needs and concerns instead of just trying to oversell you or sell you the most expensive solution. Doing so will help the provider offer you the services you need to attract the customers you want—instead of just being concerned with boosting their bottom line. Furthermore, a choice merchant services provider will be willing to work with you and your existing systems as much as possible to minimize your upfront costs and ramp-up time. Be wary of a merchant services provider who only sends you product information on the very latest (and usually most expensive) technology available, if it doesn’t seem to meet your business needs.
Offers solutions that are customizable
A great merchant services provider offers terminals and payments systems that are not only the latest in technology but are also the right-fit for your business. What’s more, the best merchant services providers offer software that is fully customizable to your business needs. Plus, if you don’t see a feature that you want or need on their platform, they should be receptive to your feedback for improvements in future product releases. They might also provide open APIs that allow your development team to adapt the solution to your processes and apply your branding. Great merchant services providers truly understand that payment processing systems—and all the related software and hardware—should not be a “one size fits all” setup.
Choosing the merchant services provider that’s right for you
By now, you may be thinking that there sure is a lot to look for in a merchant services provider. And, while that is true, sit down with this list and prioritize what’s most important for your business. Looking for a partner that can guide you through shifting industry regulations and requirements, but don’t necessarily need POS software you can fully customize to your business branding? Tweak your requirements list accordingly. Use this list as a good starting point of the key traits of a great merchant services provider.
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