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Better ISO Support Economically

Budget cuts are happening everywhere. As profits decrease, retailers and the organizations that support them are doing everything they can to lessen expenses. In these harsh economic times businesses can gain some control over how much they spend by cutting expenses for everything from utilities to insurance.

In the spectrum of payments, merchants can cut costs in several ways — including encouraging PIN debit for payments, and putting all store activities on one single broadband network. Technological advancements make it possible for any organization that supports merchants to reduce support-related costs. Understanding these options will put the organization in a better position to deliver better support using fewer resources.

Support teams, whether at the merchant or ISO/processor level are typically overtaxed. Merchants still require and expect the same amount of support even though staff is being eliminated. How can this support still be delivered? One successful move is to put tools in the hands of the user, enabling them to find out things for themselves.

There has been a major growth in online network management tools. With that growth has come an opportunity for ISOs. Web-based management and reporting suites allow you to provide your merchant the tools for finding their own answers. Usually, when the merchant has a problem there is no data available to help figure out the issue at hand. The merchant has no choice but to call the ISO, dealer, or processor.

It happens too many times where the merchant is forced to call all three, while at the same time they each blame the problem on the other. Merchants that monitor and track all their transactions as well as their status in the network can address some of their own support issues. They can even provide valuable information to the help desk that will help narrow down the problem.

The merchant can often view transactions by card type, date and time, and see unsettled batches in order to fix mistakes. Tools like these will reduce support calls and will give the merchant valuable information on all their transactions. For ISOs, tools like these reduce the amount of merchants as they become more and more dependent on the data in order to operate their business successfully.

ISOs can also take advantage of management tools that help them deliver support services. With remote access available to POS devices and networks, onsite visits are no longer needed. The ISOs now have greater control over payment devices.

They can perform administrative tasks for the merchant, such as configuration changes and routing to different processors —things, until now, they were not able to do. If support is going to be available around the clock there are tools that make merchant data available with just one button of the keyboard. Fingerprinting of suppliers will no longer be needed.

All data will be accessible and all problems will be addressed and resolved so quickly that most merchants won’t even know the problem even existed.

The amount of time networks are up is put to the max with the use of network management tools. Alerts can be delivered by email or pager as soon as trouble is detected. With uptime being so important for merchants, the ability to short-circuit the support process is of no importance. Maximizing uptime will make loyalty grow and revenue recur.

In this day and age most businesses, if not all, are online in some way. More and more, companies are building online services for their product or service to reduce support calls for themselves and by making important information easily available and accessible to their customers. The strategy does work. One web hosting company went and compared two web hosts.

One of the web hosts had online tools while the other did not. A 20-40% decrease was seen in incoming support issues with the web host that used online tools and data. With computers and the internet being available in almost every store environment business owners expect information to be at their fingertips. With a question as basic as “how do I configure this terminal to do x?” there is no excuse for the user having to wait forever for the answer. It is very frustrating for consumers to search for a simple piece of information on a product and find it unavailable, or find that they will need to follow some crazy complicated steps before they even come close to an answer. There are simple, inexpensive ways to provide this information to your customers 24/7.

The perfect forum for support data is a Wiki. It is an interactive website that is designed to allow a group of users to edit and contribute content by their web browser. Thousands of agencies and private organizations use Wikis today, from Fortune 500 companies to political figures, to sports organizations. Wiki comes from the Hawaiian word for “fast,” which is exactly what customers expect when they want answers to their questions.

A Wiki is simple and easy to set up. Google “setting up a wiki” and you will find downloadable wiki applications, even ones that won’t charge you. Wikis are easy to add especially if you already have a website. An important point when using a Wiki is that it needs to be loaded with important, helpful information and be updated often.

Start with a list of Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) and allow your wiki to be open for questions and feedback from customers.

Your wiki will soon be filled with new documents, graphics and information that will target the specific needs of your customers. Pair the Wiki with an RSS feed which will allow your customers to receive update alerts and let them return to view new material.

When it comes to support, especially in hard economic times like these, self-help tools can be life-savers for your customers. You can save them hours of frustration and eliminate un-needed calls. You benefit too by being able to maximize your support resources where they are really needed

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