19 Mar 8 Questions to Ask a Prospective Merchant Services Partner
Once your bank decides to offer merchant services to your customers, the next step is choosing a processing partner. This choice will impact everything from revenue and retention, to customer support, so it’s not one to be taken lightly. But, in an industry that can seem so complicated, how do you know what to ask? Or even what to look for?
The potential consequences of choosing the wrong processing partner can be dire. Make sure you don’t overlook a potential deal-breaker. To help you out, here’s our list of 8 questions to ask a prospective merchant services partner:
Question 1: What’s your annual merchant retention rate?
Retention can have a huge impact on the future of your merchant services program and is an overall indicator of a processor’s quality. A low retention rate is typically a symptom of poor customer support and non-competitive pricing. The industry retention average is only 70% annually, but does your bank want just an average partner?
So, when you ask this question, what should the answer be? Aim high. The very best processing partners will have a retention rate of 90% or higher. Retaining 90% of merchants is a good indicator that your potential provider cultivates existing relationships with partners and merchants alike.
High retention rates mean you’re signing new merchant accounts and growing your portfolio, not just scrambling to compensate for customers that leave. For that reason, this question should be the first one you ask, and you should consider the answer carefully.
Question 2: Do you have an in-house support team?
We’ve already established how important retention is to growing your merchant services program, and nothing will impact retention like the support your merchants receive. Make sure your processing partner will help, not hinder, your retention efforts.
Both you and your merchants will utilize your partners support line. Unfortunately, many processors have cut costs by outsourcing their customer support. This often results in your calls being routed to a call center, where you’ll spend extensive amounts of time on hold.
Confirm that your partner has an in-house support team that delivers the same great customer service that your bank does. That means no automated help-desks, long wait times, or complicated phone trees.
Question 3: Do you proactively reach out to merchants regarding PCI Compliance?
PCI Compliance can be a complicated, time-consuming, and expensive process if your partner doesn’t help you out. Merchants that are not considered compliant are typically billed non-compliance fees every month. Even worse, non-compliance leaves your customers vulnerable to data breaches.
Most merchant services providers do not have an in-house PCI Compliance department, so this is an incredibly important question to ask.
Your ideal partner should proactively reach out to merchants regarding the annual PCI Compliance questionnaire and—this is the most important part—walk them through the process. Any potential partner should be able to explain in detail their PCI outreach and follow-up process. If they can’t, that’s a major sign that you’re not talking to the right partner.
Question 4: Will we have a dedicated contact person?
Have you ever needed to call customer support multiple times to resolve an issue? Each time, it’s likely that you’ll speak to a different person that will need to look up your account to read notes from a prior call. With complicated problems, this can get very frustrating, very fast.
Having a dedicated representative assigned to your account will greatly improve the experience of your merchants. What do you think instills more confidence: asking your merchants to contact customer support via an automated phone system, or referring a customer to their dedicated account manager, John Stevens?
A dedicated contact person will learn how your bank conducts business and give you easy access to the tools and information you need to succeed.
Question 5: How long will it take us to receive savings analyses?
The right partner should have an in-house team to handle all bidding requests, and the faster the better.
Responsiveness is incredibly important in sales. 50% of sales go to the first vendor to respond to a prospect’s inquiry. Your customers already trust you because of your banking relationship, so don’t let that advantage go to waste by signing with a partner that will take 2-3 business days or longer to get a bid back to you.
If your merchant services partner is truly a pricing expert, make sure they can have a savings analysis back to you quickly, so you can move on with closing the account. A good partner will be able to provide a requested savings analysis within 1 business day, sometimes within 4 hours.
Question 6: What kind of training will our bank have access to?
In order to jump-start your budding merchant services program, your bank should receive comprehensive initial training (preferably on-site). But, for a successful bank, training never truly ends. Your partner should provide access to on-going training, both in-person and online.
Make sure that when you ask this question, you discuss future training and development opportunities. An online resource library with webinars, interactive training, and downloadable guides can be of huge help to your branch staff and is a sign that your potential partner is invested in your success.
Like the banking industry, the merchant services industry is constantly evolving to keep up with changes in technology and regulations. So, it’s also important that your processing partner keeps you informed of industry changes and trends. How will your processor communicate these updates, and how frequently?
Question 7: What platforms and processing methods will we have at our disposal?
When you’re asking this question, you’re really asking, “Do you have the best solutions to fit our customers’ needs?” Credit card processing is not a one-size-fits-all business. Your merchants will have varying needs, and any potential partner will need to offer a wide range of products and solutions for your diverse customer base.
Processing can also involve various back-end platforms that are designed to meet different needs. You can see how this question leads to a multitude of other questions. For example, does your processor have access to a platform with next-day funding? What about a platform that allows your merchants to accept fleet cards? Do they offer mobile processing solutions? Or methods to lower the costs for merchants processing B2B credit card transactions?
A great merchant services partner will help you assess a prospective merchant’s needs and will also be able to offer the best tools to meet them.
Question 8: How will you help us grow our portfolio?
Now that you’ve determined your potential partner has the tools to serve your customers and branch staff, it’s time to find out how they’ll help you grow your program and increase revenue.
This question has two main components. First, how will they help you sign new accounts? Make sure any potential partner will help your bank develop growth strategies. Access to turn-key marketing for your program’s use is an added bonus.
Next, how will this processor help maintain the profitability of your existing portfolio? Confirm that your merchant services partner will still have eyes on your accounts, even after they’ve been signed. This includes reporting on non-profitable/non-processing accounts and recommending price increases to keep up with any changes in wholesale interchange.
BASYS Processing as a business partner
If your processor isn’t delivering strategies to help grow your program and personal service to your customers, please call BASYS Processing at (800) 386-0711. Let’s talk about creating a business partnership that will help you meet and exceed your goals.
BASYS Processing features:
• A friendly, live voice will answer the phone when you or your customers call; no automated phone systems.
• In-house PCI Compliance team to walk your customers through the process step-by-step, improving security and reducing costs.
• Thorough Market Analysis followed by mutual plans and goals to grow your portfolio.
• In-depth initial training and ongoing bootcamp training for bank staff.
• A full suite of turnkey marketing assets that can be customized with your bank branding.
About BASYS Processing
BASYS Processing provides credit card and debit card processing services, plus solutions that include terminals, virtual terminals, e-commerce, mobile, and point-of-sale, customized to fit any need. Banks, associations, and software partners depend on us to strengthen their reputations and relationships with their customers by providing remarkable service paired with ultimate flexibility and pricing. Merchants depend on us to make accepting credit cards and debit cards convenient, safe and affordable. BASYS was founded in 2002 on one philosophy: to take care of our merchants, partners, and employees so they never want to leave. We are dedicated to working one-on-one with our customers to design the perfect solution. BASYS is Personal Payment Processing.
Learn more at basyspro.com, and connect with us online at: