Accepting credit cards can be an amazing tool and a double-edged sword! Amazing because consumers who use credit cards, spend more money, more often than their cash paying counterparts. Sword-like because the various risk issues associated with card acceptance can cause business owners unwelcome stress. Let's look at a few of the ways we can minimize our exposure to the risks related to card acceptance.
Proper Account Underwriting/SetUp/Maintenance
One of the easiest ways to prevent stress and risk is to make sure the provider you are using has underwritten your account properly. Because credit card transactions are NOT CASH, a merchant account is approved for certain ticket sizes, monthly & annual volumes. Another critical underwriting parameter is the amount of time a business owner is permitted to charge a card BEFORE the delivery of their products and services. Making sure the account is set up to accommodate the specific needs of your business, can certainly prevent future headaches. As your business grows, be sure to keep your processor aware of the changes (increases in volume, ticket sizes, additions of new products and services, etc.). Not being properly set up or keeping your credit card processor 'up to speed' on your business practices can result in delays in funding or even the loss of your ability to accept credit cards.
Thinking Before You Ship/Deliver
Nothing saves more time, energy & money than listening to that still, small voice! If you have an uneasy feeling, there is probably a good reason. A good processing partner will make themselves available if you need to verify the identity of a cardholder before shipping or delivery. While not all card issuing banks participate, there are still quite a few who will confirm the names or addresses of their cardholders to help validate a legitimate sale. We find that setting financial parameters for your staff really helps in this area as well. Letting your team know, for example, that any sale above a certain dollar amount should be verified before completing the transaction, can put your mind at ease and can also let your customers know that their protection is important to your business.
Having everything in writing can help prevent conflict. If your business handles large ticket repairs, installations or service work, having a checkout process that includes a satisfaction confirmation form can help reduce stress and future issues with your clients. Even though you can do everything right and still run into a problem, it just makes good sense to set your business up for success by doing what you can to make sure you confirm the satisfaction of your customers.
Speedy /Complete Responses!
When your customers do decide to dispute a charge, your response time can make all the difference. Many times, a customer's concern can be taken care of with a quick, clarifying the conversation. Delaying your response will only escalate any situation. The same is true with a chargeback- the process where the monies you have charged to a customer's card are debited from your account until the conflict can be resolved. You have a limited time to share your side of the story and any documentation with the card issuing bank. Your rapid response, in any situation, can reduce the risk of lost revenues.
Last Minute Tips:
- Get signatures whenever possible
- Do not break up transactions
- Do not ship to orders where the address is not verified
- Use shipping confirmation
Addressing and preparing for the risk issues associated with card acceptance, will eliminate stress and help you manage your payment acceptance methods so you can increase your bottom line!