The credit and debit card industry thrives on payment processors and the services they offer; unfortunately, customer support seems to be taking a backseat to other factors for many companies. At Host Merchant Services, we believe there is an unfortunate financial motive at play that explains why this is happening.
Consolidation is one of the reasons customer support seems to be lacking these days among the biggest payment processors. Investment bankers see great potential in this industry, and they are approaching big players for the purpose of making them even bigger players.
Once an investment banking firm starts working with a payment processing firm, the prospect of a merger is never far behind. This is how Wall Street operates, and this is how major payment processors acquire their peers and get bigger. Unfortunately, this is also how customer support goes away.
The problem with these consolidated giants is that their customer support platform begins to suffer through growth. Value-added services start piling up, and the smaller merchants will take them because they are bells and whistles, which are always very appealing. The problem is that these features are offered at the expense of customer support. These companies become so large they have to use call centers where you are put on hold for a long period of time, and speak with representatives who aren’t very helpful or knowledgeable about the industry and your account.
Granted, there is nothing wrong with a processing firm offering some bells and whistles for their customers such as free equipment. This would be a very valuable feature for a smaller business that is either starting out or expanding to add a new location. In this case, the merchant would love to get new credit card terminals for free, but what about support for this service?
When payment processors offer too much and get too big, they tend to become merchant technology companies. This is when Wall Street investors recommend scaling back on customer support, which is a costly proposition for processors. This is also when online help desk packages are rolled out to replace call centers. There are some large credit card processing companies out there that don’t even have a phone number to call if you need help or would like to sign up. It’s not even an option, which we don’t think is right.
At Host Merchant Services, we believe that customer support is of greater value than the gimmicks the big guys offer. We also believe that customer support will be the next frontier of the credit card processing industry. Once big processors start losing market share due to inadequate merchant support channels, the industry will once again pay attention to this important aspect of business.