One of the many changes and challenges for businesses that have either arisen or accelerated as a result of conditions created by the ongoing pandemic is the consumer demand for more choice, flexibility, and convenience for how they interact with merchants and how they pay for goods and/or services. Demand for more choice in and access to in the way of remote, contactless, 24/7 payments has been accelerating for a number of years now and this shift in how consumers purchase goods and services has led to an ongoing restructuring of business and payment practices that has swiftly taken things to a whole new level. The takeaway from this is that even as the pandemic eventually recedes the demand for better payment processes, convenience and security will still remain in place, regardless of whatever external conditions (which we may have little or no control over) happen to prevail.
One of the most cost effective and secure methods of contactless payments available on the market today is IVR Payments. IVR Payments are a payment acceptance method whereby the
customer interacts with an automated telephone payment system known as Interactive Voice Response (IVR) to pay a bill by using either a credit card or by electronic cheque (ACH). IVR Payments utilize a technology known as DTMF (Dual Tone Multi-Frequency) which are the tones transmitted by the caller’s telephone handset and recognized by the IVR Payment system as number inputs.
IVR Payment solutions offer business tangible benefits which are multi-fold and include:
- Getting Paid Faster
- Increased Payment Security and PCI Compliance
- Improved Customer Convenience
- Improved Customer Engagement
- Lower Operational and Staffing Costs
# 1 Getting Paid Faster:
Businesses depend on receiving timely payments for their financial health. Inefficiencies in a company’s accounts receivable practices can have a negative impact on the bottom line in the form of delays in receiving customer payments and the resulting increased costs of collection.
This is why it’s so important to invest in building out processes that systematically improve payment acceptance and minimize friction in the payment process. Most businesses provide some way for a customer to interact over the phone including the option to speak with a live staff member in order to make a payment. However, this process can be limiting and cause call bottlenecks when a high number of customers are trying to call at the same time, leaving those who are trying to make a payment being put on hold or directed to leave a voice mail.
It is imperative for businesses to minimize any potential friction or difficulties that may occur with any of their available payment methods. Most businesses have become fairly efficient at accepting payments on-line where staff capacity is not a factor, however, for those who interact with their customers over the phone it’s key that they find ways to prioritize payment customers. This can be done easily by employing IVR Payment technology which automates the payment acceptance process while reducing the load on staff and ensuring customers can pay when they want to without taking an undue amount of time to do so.
# 2 Increased Payment Security and PCI Compliance:
When it comes to paying for goods and services, customers not only want convenience, they want to know that their credit card and banking information is being handled securely and won’t be compromised. Businesses that accept payment by credit card are required to be PCI Compliant which is an industry-standard must with respect to how businesses handle credit card information. A PCI Compliant IVR Payment solution ensures that customers’ credit card and banking information is handled securely, removing live staff from having access to this data thereby lessening the risk of that information being compromised.
# 3 Customer Convenience:
For obvious reasons all businesses want to be paid faster. One way to help ensure this happens is by making it as easy and convenient as possible for their customers to remit payment.
More than ever customers are expecting convenience and flexibility when it comes to how they pay for products and services, which typically means the option of paying remotely & outside of traditional office hours and without having to wait on hold to speak to an agent. In fact, multiple studies show that anywhere from 30-40% of customers prefer to pay their bills after hours and on weekends and that was before the onset of the pandemic. Now, with more and more people working remotely and social distancing mandates of some form or another still in effect in many jurisdictions, people want an accessible, one-stop avenue for making payments that is quick, easy-to-use and of course secure. Businesses that provide this type of service soon realize the easily measured benefit of fewer late or delinquent payments (and therefore fewer resources having to be allocated for dealing with these) as well as a more satisfied clientele.
# 4 Improved Customer Engagement:
As noted above, an automated IVR Payments solution offers customers convenience and ease of use when it comes to paying their bills, as well as the assurance that their credit card and bank account information is secured and protected. In addition, it offers businesses a unique opportunity to engage with their customers, wherever they happen to be living. Features that are typically a part of IVR Payment solutions such as SMS text messaging that can be used to send payment receipts, payment reminders, special promo offers, CSAT surveys and more enable businesses to engage with their customers and to gather useful information. By finding out more about what their customers are interested in and what they like/don’t like about the services they are currently receiving, they can better tailor their offerings and procedures to reflect those different tastes and preferences.
# 5 Lower Operational and Staffing Costs:
In addition to collecting monies owed to them on a timely basis, businesses are also always on the lookout for ways to save on operational costs, whether that be in the form of reducing staff or finding more efficient and cost-effective ways to allocate their human and technical resources. Given that automated payment collection systems cost businesses significantly less to process invoices than non-automated ones, businesses can realize significant cost savings while utilizing the staff for other purposes that can benefit the business in both the long and the short term.
In summation, an IVR Payment solution that is PCI Compliant is a tool that can benefit businesses on multiple levels, regardless of external business and or social conditions. That’s because the benefits of IVR flow in both directions between businesses and customers thereby ensuring that everyone gains something whether it be in the form of more payment convenience, faster payments, as well as improved payment security.