When payment has a point

  • What's the point of payment? For most businesses it’s an entirely functional affair.


    It’s the necessary transaction that signals the end of a customer’s experience. They’ll have swiped their card, or punched their pin, but besides the size of the tip they might have left, most organisations will have no idea whether they surprised and delighted their patrons, or if they will ever be seeing them again.  


    In our fast-moving consumer-centric world, letting customers slip quietly away without understanding how they feel is commercial suicide. Research shows that between 25-40% of the total revenue from most stable businesses comes from their repeat customers – but these people will only continue to come back if their service expectations are being met. With customers more fickle than ever, every sale matters.


    The problem, up until recently, has been finding a genuinely meaningful way of capturing, interpreting and acting on customer feedback.


    Take restaurants, for example. Methods used to capture feedback here vary from the ‘gut feel’ – like a casual ‘how was your meal, sir?’ – all the way through to the more scientific but ultimately clunky scorecard, where customers have to endure a written test with their petits fours. Neither of which conjures the right conditions for all but the most brazen consumers to speak out.


    Having looked at the problem, I felt passionately about finding a simple, anonymous and non-intrusive solution of capturing real customer feedback. I also believed strongly that the point of payment was the moment to capture it – based on the well-known retail industry fact that asking questions at the point at which someone experiences something (the ‘moment of truth’ as it’s often referenced) is 40% more accurate than feedback collected after the event.


    In what was an industry first, our TruRating application asks customers to rate their experience between 0-9 and apply it directly to the payment terminal, and in doing so completely changes the value that the moment of payment can yield. Critically, as part of that data collection, you can actually measure what people spend – finally being able to link sentiment to spend.


    For example, our data reveals that happy UK retail customers spend 13% more than those who were disappointed by their experience.


    Historically, payment terminals have been relatively closed and secure ecosystems. Embedding a value-added service on payment terminals, independently from the acquirer, was completely unheard of. But by galvanising demand from retailers through various trials, we’ve been able to convince the payment industry to open up their systems.


    By adding just one simple step to the payment process, retailers can generate a wealth of data about service standards that can be interpreted and actioned daily, weekly, or hourly across the business, or even by employees. And it’s quick and painless, too – installed quickly onto payment terminals, or supplied as a service via the cloud.


    Customers seem to love it too – with response rates across our client base of 88%, all the evidence suggests that customers are more than happy to give a service score at the point of payment, if they know it will be used to enhance their experience next time.


    Why? Well, for them it solves that age-old dilemma of whether to suffer in silence or make a scene. A simple, non-invasive, and crucially anonymous feedback solution is the perfect antidote to British reserve.


    The value of this data is enormous, and it proves a very important observation too: point of payment may come last in the line, but it could actually be the first step on the road to real data-driven customer service, and bottom line benefits.



    Georgina Nelson is the founder of mass-market ratings system, TruRating