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Five Things to Look for in an Integrated Payment Partner

Having the ability to accept payments through your software seems simple enough. After all, there are hundreds of payment providers that would love to have your business. Choosing an integrated payment vendor IS pretty simple. Choosing an integrated payment partner is an entirely different challenge.

As a software provider, payments aren’t your bailiwick, your product is. Because of this, you need a payment company that brings expertise and guidance – someone that possesses a partner mindset versus someone that just sells you their integration then pretty much walks away.

Chances are, one of two scenarios applies to you. First, you already have payments integrated in your software. If so, you’re probably thinking this article may not be all that relevant. I encourage you to read on though because this might help you streamline your environment and improve customer satisfaction.

The second scenario is that you do not have payments integrated in your software but either your customers are asking for it or your competitors already have it. I was a part of this group in my role as founder and CEO of TermSync (acquired by Esker). At the start, I knew very little about the payment process so the task of finding a partner was a bit daunting. I learned a lot along the way, and I’d like to share my learning to hopefully help you avoid some costly pitfalls.

Related article: The Strategy of Selecting Our Payment Partner, Greg Swain, President Lodgical Software

The Starting Point

This article is not about payment acceptance feature A vs feature B. I’m assuming anyone you talk to can accept payments in the way you’re looking for. I’m sure there are some smaller ones that lack certain features, but anyone you seriously consider will be able to check all of your boxes for payment acceptance. Once you set that aside, you can focus on narrowing your search for partners that are in alignment with your specific needs.

List What You’re Looking for in a Partner

Make a list of what will make life easier for you and for your customers. An example of things I would look for in your optimal integrated payment partner would be:

  1. Easy integration – You will need thorough and understandable documentation as well as expertise and guidance throughout the entire process. You are an expert at software not payments.
  2. Alignment with your software strategy and your customer focus – This ensures that neither you nor your customers are disappointed with the service your integrated payment partner delivers.
  3. Comprehensive onboarding plan – A well thought-out marketing plan will make sure your customers are brought onto your integrated payment platform expeditiously and efficiently. Examples may include: Webinars, custom overview materials, cross-channel outreach, and a dedicated web page with program details.
  4. Transparent pricing policy – While processing fees do not directly impact you, they do impact people very important to you – your customers. One software company recently shared that customers of its competition were being charged exorbitant fees for their processing. Do you want your customers to be taken advantage like that by your integrated payment partner? Of course you don’t. Being clear on their pricing policy upfront will allow you to protect your customers’ wallets.
  5. Emphasis on security – The surge in digital transactions has spurred a significant increase in fraudulent activity. Not only will your customers need assurance they are fully protected but they’ll need expert assistance with compliance requirements. The PCI certification process alone has over 340 controls in it. Your customers will definitely need help.

How to Get at the True Nature of a Potential Partner

There is not a single business today that markets itself as complex, inaccessible, and pricey. If it does, it won’t be in business very long. Your challenge is how to cut through all of the marketing hype to get at the true nature of your potential integrated payment partner. Do that, and you won’t be stuck with a provider that is expensive to maintain and absent in its service to your customers.

Sometimes you can ask direct questions and get direct answers. But other times, asking indirect questions leads to better information. For example, “How is your customer service?” likely will yield the response you’d like to hear. Companies typically will not tell you that their service is subpar. However, if you ask “What is your average customer retention?” the answer is a better indication of how good their customer service really is.

Questions to Ask

Here’s a list of questions for any payment provider you are assessing:

  1. Can I have access to a developer portal or library with your integration documentation?
  2. What resources do you make available for integration support?
  3. Do you have a sandbox our developers can use?
  4. What is your partnership strategy and ongoing support?
  5. Who do my customers call when they need service? Call center? Online only? Offshore support?
  6. What is your average customer retention rate for the past two years? It should be over 90%)
  7. What is your marketing plan for boarding my customers?
  8. What is your pricing policy for card processing and other fees?
  9. How do you make sure my customers qualify for the lowest rates possible?
  10. What have you done to simplify the PCI compliance process?
  11. If something goes wrong, will I have a dedicated Account Manager or do I call general support?

The Company’s Background is Important

One other thing I would ask about is the background of the company. There is a ton of consolidation going on. The big guys are scooping up the smaller and midsize companies. That is fine but it usually leads to worse service and confusion during the couple years that they integrate. When I was looking, I chose a company that is very family focused and transitioning to their second generation. It gave me great confidence that they were not looking to sell anytime soon and would be a partner for the long haul.

There are many more questions you can ask, but these will be a good starting point for your integrated payment partner candidates. You also may want to ask some of these questions of your current provider(s). The answers you get may actually surprise you.

Related article: What is the Best Integrated Payments Provider?

The bottom line is do your homework before making a selection. The most important thing is to choose an integrated payment partner that makes your life easy and treats your customers in the same way you do. After all, your customers are the most important asset you have.

Mark Wilson is the Co-Founder & CEO of WrenchWay. Mark is an experienced business leader who likes to focus on process improvement, along with user and customer experience. His experience includes leading finance and operations as CFO for a software startup that sold to Microsoft in 2007, and founding and leading a software startup as CEO, which was acquired by Esker in 2015. Mark serves on the Advisory Board for Wind River as well as various other company and charity boards.

Mark Wilson, CEO, WrenchWay

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