Client retention is a key part of running a successful business. Although developing an effective strategy to attract and please customers requires a lot of time and consideration, regardless of industry, there’s likely increased skepticism among customers in merchant services—and understandably so.
“The industry associations—Visa, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express—basically determine wholesale pricing on their own with virtually no regulatory oversight, and re-sellers are left to mark up the association pricing however they want,” he says.
“To make matters worse,” O’Neil continues, “most merchant services agreements have provisions that allow for pricing increases during the contract term.”
This gives the merchant services provider the ability to raise the rates from the originally agreed-upon terms, at any time.
As a result, there's very little consistency about exactly how much merchants are charged. Many of these business owners accept a sense of defeat early on, knowing they will likely pay significantly more money than necessary for their merchant services, without being able to do anything about it.
Despite the poor reputation of the merchant services industry, however, some providers prove to be exceptions to this rule.
“I'm proud to say that our client retention has always been comfortably better than the industry average,” states O’Neil.
Still, it’s been a learning experience for the nearly decade-old credit card processing company.
For example, one important aspect of keeping client retention rates high is the onboarding process. If customers don’t have a positive experience switching from their previous provider to a new one, they may second-guess themselves.
“We have learned that among the most stressful times in a merchant relationship can be in transitioning from the past provider to the new one,” O’Neil explains. “So we have put in some relationship-establishing touches that help smooth that transition and make new merchants feel welcome right away.”
There are other essential aspects of client satisfaction that O’Neil stresses, as well.
Never raise rates.
MPX honors the deals they make with their merchants. They do not modify the rates within the three-year contract period. Instead, MPX takes the time to walk merchants through their credit card processing statements, so they understand what they're actually paying, and why. This involves reviewing their statements and identifying any hidden or unnecessary fees present.
Establish a top-notch service department.
MPX has a team of experienced, professional and relentlessly personable customer service agents who know how to handle merchants' questions, as well as any issues they encounter, quickly and thoroughly. These agents are communicative throughout the entire process, always keeping in mind how important their jobs are, since payment issues can cripple a small business.
Keep sales agents happy.
Most merchants have a relationship with the agent who signed them up for merchant services, so the sales agent is commonly the first call they make when something seems amiss. Because MPX treats their agents fairly and transparently—something the competition often fails to do—they tend to stick around.
For example, MPX has noticed it's helpful for merchants to consistently have one point of contact—in this case, their sales agent—to voice concerns to. The sales agents then reach out directly to the support team to ensure a quick, but effective, resolution. This makes it easier for both the merchant and the agent. The former knows who to contact if a problem arises, and the latter knows what to do to ensure the issue is addressed.
Nevertheless, MPX plans to continue finding new ways to better their client retention rate.
“We are always looking to improve our internal customer relationship processes, but I think they have merely served to enhance an already pleasant customer experience,” O’Neil states.
For instance, one idea MPX has is to hire a full-time relationship management team. This group of specialists will focus on the company’s largest merchants, and make sure their needs are being met.
Are you a small business owner looking to switch merchant services providers? Contact MPX to find out how we can save you money.