Providing truly omnichannel payment experiences is no easy feat. Here’s a look at what it takes to maintain pace with evolving customer expectations.
Consumers are increasingly demanding seamless omnichannel experiences in retail, banking, and more — a preference that requires a strong omnichannel payments backbone. Today’s customers may enjoy both in-store and online shopping, but a recent PayPal and BigCommerce survey found that a majority (62.5%) of respondents now do most of their shopping online, while 66.7% have made a purchase through their phone in the last month.
To complete digital purchases, merchants and payment providers must have the appropriate technology in place. Most shoppers expect their banking and payments providers to integrate with their preferred platforms, as well as payment services like “buy now, pay later” (BNPL) and digital wallets. Beyond E-commerce, customers are also demanding full service from their financial providers on mobile and desktop — whether they’re checking their balance, requesting a credit extension, or making a transfer. It’s not enough to operate separate channels. Instead, payments companies must offer a holistic, integrated experience.
The True Meaning of Omnichannel
At its core, omnichannel refers to the ability to sync consumer experiences across multiple channels — a step up from simply offering services on different channels. By ensuring cohesion across web, mobile and in-person services, customers are saved from inputting the same information over and over again. This also ensures that they can use their payment products wherever they are, in whatever format they prefer, without impacting the experience.
This connectivity between mediums is particularly important in a market where people expect convenience and efficiency above all else. UPS reports that 52% of consumers want to see a variety of payment options at the checkout — while almost a quarter have abandoned an online purchase when their preferred method wasn’t available. The stakes are high: if you can’t offer omnichannel service, you might lose business.
The Challenge of Achieving Actual Omnichannel
Many companies have successfully implemented a multichannel strategy but fall short of achieving true omnichannel. This may be due to several factors, including poor communications between channels; access barriers to payment pages; the loss of context; insufficient security and regulations; and excessive complexity in the payment ecosystem. By digging deeper into these challenges, it is possible to address them and achieve success.
Let’s dive into the challenges:
Just as consumers expect to interact with their payments provider through any communications channel, providers should be taking advantage of the options available when contacting their customers. Prompts to take an action, such as paying a bill or making a purchase, should be communicated in a format that allows the customer to immediately follow through. If an email is sent, the action should be one that can be easily completed on the web, while a text should prompt a mobile-supported task. This demonstrates true omnichannel capability and meets the consumer where they are.
Consumers often enjoy being reminded to take necessary action, but providers will lose this positive association if there are too many hurdles to overcome before following through. Requiring additional login screens or requesting proof of identity, even when the user is coming from a personalized message — may cause them to abandon the action altogether. Owing to the smaller navigational mobile screen, this will have a particularly negative effect when experienced on mobile and this may, in turn, drive the consumer away from the mobile application altogether.
Omnichannel Analytics & Context
Even if a company has created multiple channels, the true value comes from building connections between them. If a service agent is helping a customer through a problem, they need access to all customer information stored in the platform to provide the most assistance. Similarly, if a customer has already begun an application online, this should then be accessible on any digital channel or in-branch, for true omnichannel service. Payments providers must therefore ensure that there is synchronization between all their platforms.
Security, Privacy, and Regulatory Requirements
Providing service across multiple platforms can leave payments providers vulnerable to breach unless they ensure their security protocols are adapted to each channel. Customer data must be able to flow between channels, while still being protected from external parties. Similarly, new payment regulations add an extra layer of complexity. To successfully conduct business both online and in-person, companies must regularly review their protocols and ensure compliance with all regulations.
Ultimately, omnichannel’s value is enhancing the customer experience; adding too many features can risk making the experience overly complicated. When operating multiple channels, it is important to identify areas to reuse and synchronize applications so that the system is not burdened with redundant tools or siloed data. One option may be to employ an external provider to help improve technology efficiencies, without having to reduce the number of channels.
What’s at Stake
If a company cannot keep up with today’s consumer expectations, the merchant will likely consider moving providers to keep their shoppers happy. Whether working directly with end-consumers or partnering with third parties to improve their consumer experiences, being able to implement omnichannel can make all the difference — if done right.
With the right integration of tools, payments providers can support their merchant partners and enable an elevated customer experience, wherever the customer is engaging with the product.