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Operating at the Crossroads of Merchant Services and Low Prices

We’ve all heard the old adage: You get what you pay for.

While the sentiment rings true, it’s all too easy to get starry-eyed over a low price without considering what you’re sacrificing in return. We’ve become a nation obsessed with quick fixes and cheap goods, and we wonder why it’s so hard to find real quality.

The tagline on the Wind River Financial home page is “Putting the service back into merchant services.” It’s a great catchphrase, but what does it really mean? Today, we’re diving into the value that should drive pricing decisions.

The Truth Behind Low Prices and Service Delivery

From in-store payment solutions to online and mobile purchasing platforms, there are many different types of merchant services that your business might need. When you start to compare options, you’ll undoubtedly encounter some providers that offer shockingly low prices.

While it’s tempting to let the numbers lead, think about what you’re actually getting. Often, providers are only able to advertise such prices when they slash another component of their service offering. For instance, you might get a great deal on integrated payment solutions, but you’ll be hard-pressed to find support when you need customer service or account management.

These types of deals might sound attractive, but they’ll usually leave you wanting more. Unfortunately, the realization of “wanting more” usually comes at the most inopportune times, such as when a line of customers waits at the counter while you have technical issues with your payment terminal. Do you really want to operate on a DIY model that leaves you stranded with no backup other than a ticketing system through 800 #? Or, do you need access to reliable support from a real partner that stands ready to assist you?

A discount is only a good deal if it’s useful. Otherwise, you’re wasting your time and money, regardless of the size of the investment. We know you want and need excellent service for your business, and you want to achieve it without breaking the bank. To do this, you need a payment provider that believes in fair, transparent pricing that is sustainable – not just bargain basement rates that lure you in then creep up over time.

Some payment providers may view attentive customer service as an extraneous expense or a luxury reserved only for their biggest and most profitable customers. On a side note: the antithesis is true at Wind River Financial. Our business is firmly rooted in service. We don’t just sell merchant services and leave you to figure out the rest. We’re a top-tier services company that just happens to provide excellent payment processing solutions.

The Role of Customer Experience

In the world of digital marketing, customer experience has become somewhat of a buzzword. Every business wants to appeal to its target buyers and deliver custom, targeted messages that garner a response.

While these campaigns are helpful, they can only take you so far. You need to move beyond lip service. This means having the resources in place to ensure you’re delivering on the claims and promises you make. To do that, you need to make sure you’re not hanging your hat on a payment provider that has cut corners in an effort to “wow” you with their price and win you over.
Service must be factored in if you want to succeed. Let’s take a look at the rise of one of the biggest giants in recent retail history:

The Zappos Story: A Case Study in the Value of Service

In 1999, Zappos pioneered the concept of buying and selling shoes online. At the time, another fledgling virtual retailer was already making a name for itself: In 1996, Amazon changed its business model to sell more than just books, creating an associates program where other websites could offer merchandise for sale.

By the time Zappos entered the stratosphere, there were more than 350,000 Amazon associates selling everything from consumer electronics to home improvement gear. The platform was also a popular place to find clothing, including (you guessed it) shoes.

As Zappos continued to grow, Amazon decided to test the waters by opening in 2007, a site dedicated exclusively to shoes and accessories.

Although they priced their items lower than Zappos, the momentum never really swung in their favor. Amazon quickly discovered that dedicated Zappos shoppers weren’t necessarily choosing the site because of price. In fact, shoppers remained loyal to Zappos despite the higher prices. Why? Zappos offered an incredible level of customer support and service. They could buy shoes online, try them on at home, and send them back if they didn’t work. It was economical but even more than that, it was convenient.

As a result, Zappos remained the top customer-centric company in the online footwear space, besting even Amazon. They remained so profitable because they focused primarily on the customer experience, bending backward to deliver convenience and make sure their buyers were treated well.

Word-of-mouth got around, and Amazon finally realized that was no match for this model. Amazon acquired Zappos in 2009 at a valuation of $1.2 billion and officially closed in 2012.

The takeaway? There is deep value to customer service, and its importance cannot be understated.

Merchant Services: Much More Than Credit Card Processing

When you’re evaluating pricing either for merchant services or a potential integrated payment partner, it’s important to dissect the numbers. Often times the quoted price is for credit card processing only. Service and support is either non-existent or relegated to an automated attendant. If that’s okay with you, the lowest price may work out. But if service is important to you, and your customer experience is important to you, going with the lowest price provider may not work out so well.

Before you shake on the deal, make sure you know how you will be supported. Here are a few questions to ask:

  1. What’s your customer retention rate? (If it’s below 90%, you may want to take a pass on this provider.)
  2. What is your service model? Dedicated relationship manager? Automated attendant? Offshore call center?
  3. Will you help us get certified for PCI compliance?

Once you have answers to those questions, you can discern 1.) what you will forfeit to get the low rate, and 2.) whether your discount rate is worth that sacrifice.

If you’re still not sure, get in touch with us today. We can talk through other questions that will help you make your decision. We believe an informed customer makes better business decisions.

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