Unified payments are essential to delivering better customer service

When it comes to payments, retailers and hospitality and leisure companies, tend to think of security as the be-all and end-all, but in reality they should be looked upon as a critical part of the customer service experience.

Nowadays consumers expect to be able to quickly pay for goods, whether they are purchasing clothes in-store, picking up their morning coffee or settling the bill after a three course meal – in any of these circumstances a prolonged wait to pay could ruin what had been a good experience.

Consumers won’t give a second thought to what goes on behind the scenes, whether they pay over the phone, in a restaurant or in-store using Chip & PIN or at a coffee shop using contactless or an NFC-enabled device; they just want their goods in a timely manner and to be able to leave a restaurant or check out of a hotel on their terms.

The challenge being that many of these functions typically rely upon completely separate and disparate payment systems, mainly because of the rapid developments in payments technology over the past five years, resulting in companies bolting on additional functionality to their in-house legacy systems, leading to complicated and expensive processes.

The short of it is, it’s simply not enough anymore to have a payments system that occasionally works well, if it isn’t secure, user friendly and able to quickly process payments across multiple channels then it’s not going to deliver the experience that your customers deserve and expect.

A hotelier might take a booking deposit online or via a customer call centre that uses one payment system, but accept the final payment on a chip and PIN card reader on site via another. To achieve a summary of the total costs, not just on individual transactions but across the company as a whole, it is then often left to manual intervention, which can be time consuming, costly and increase the chance of errors.

Consumers increasingly want to book and pay for goods through different channels and installing a unified payments process removes a lot of the headache from day-to-day business. Streamlining services and reducing maintenance costs.

Creating a seamless and unified payments system has been made a lot easier thanks to the development of scalable, cloud-based solutions that are helping firms realise the benefits of integrated systems.