The Customer Experience Demands Shaping the Future of Payments | Gotransverse

Remember the days when you would approach the checkout counter and a cashier would ring up your items then ask, “Cash or check?” Today, those two options seem almost quaint. As customer demands and technology have evolved over the years, so have payment methods. Now, we can pay with anything from a credit card (“swipe or chip?”) or Apple Pay to Venmo or even Bitcoin. We can sign up for autopay and opt in for paperless billing, we can simply pay through the app or even pay in the future. The options seem limitless. And that was before COVID-19 accelerated the adoption of digital payments and customers began to place even more value on safety and efficiency. Add this to the growing concern over data security as we store our credit card numbers and personal information on more and more platforms, and there’s no getting around it: the future of payments is evolving the way business is conducted.

Let’s look at the two primary characteristics customers are looking for in their payment options — and how businesses can effectively cater to those demands.

Convenience

While our fast-paced lives had already begun a shift to more convenient payment options — waving a phone over the scanner is a few seconds quicker, after all, than fishing out and swiping a credit card in at the register, and clicking on a saved credit card in your favorite retail site is easier than typing in all those numbers — the pandemic did a lot to accelerate the “need for speed.”

In stores, we realized that getting in and out quickly reduced the risk of transmission; at home, where many of us were suddenly juggling work, education, and home life all at once, from the same place, anything we could do to save a little time (or mental or emotional energy) became highly appealing. So, rather than dealing with complicated payment processes or manual inputs, customers leaned in to simpler, often automated payment options.

Even as the pandemic ebbs, these preferences aren’t going away. We were on the speed track already; COVID-19 just moved us along more quickly. Counting out cash? Writing a check? Not likely. Don’t even think about it. Convenient payment methods are here to stay, and businesses that can successfully remove the friction from the checkout process will have a leg up against their competitors.

Contactless

Not only is cash inconvenient; many people now believe it’s downright dangerous. An April 2020 poll found that 82 percent of MasterCard users believe contactless payments are cleaner — and therefore less likely to transmit COVID (or other diseases) — than cash. Cleaner still? Digital wallets. The National Retail Federation and Forrester found that contactless payments in retail operations increased 69 percent in the first eight months of 2020. But the shift didn’t start with 2020. Even before the pandemic began, eMarketer predicted that 80.1 million people in the United States (just over 1/3 of smartphone users) will regularly use their smartphones as a form of payment by 2023.

As restaurants have opened back up, diners have seen a concerted effort to make the experience contact free, from QR-coded menus to portable credit card scanners to, in many places, web-based ordering and payment right there at the table. Last October, one survey from Deloitte even found that consumers would be willing to pay an average of 14 percent more at restaurants that offer mobile apps or voice assistants to minimize contact.

Only time will tell whether precautions like contactless menus will outlast the pandemic, but as we emerge more conscious of hygiene than before (and always conscious of convenience), it’s likely the demand for contactless payment methods will be here to stay.

PwC’s “Experience Is Everything” report finds that 73 percent of people consider customer experience to be an important factor in purchasing decisions, while only 49 percent say companies provide a good customer experience. This means there’s plenty of room for businesses that want to get a leg up to do so by focusing on the customer experience — in particular, the payment experience. As we’ve written before, the billing process and being able to collect a variety of payment methods is a key driver of customer experience, and businesses that want to attract and retain loyal clients know just how important it is to ensure a frictionless process from beginning to end. At Gotransverse, we pride ourselves on helping our clients do just that. To learn how, we invite you to take a virtual tour of our entire platform today.