Now more than ever small businesses can offer the same levels of service and convenience as bigger players, particularly when it comes to payment solutions. Except, what happens when your tech isn’t playing ball and your customers are getting upset?
In many ways, technology has changed the way smaller and independent retailers, restaurants and service businesses operate. Traditionally cash-based businesses can now accept card payments from fixed and mobile devices – anywhere, at any time.
Except of course, when they can’t. If this has happened to you, you know the frustration – card machines that are not connecting to banks, payment failures and upset customers who want to be able to pay for their goods or meals leaving your store.
Loadshedding, connection issues and not being able to accept card payments
Because your entire business is based on the ability to get paid (ie get your cash in the bank), we thought it would be helpful to share with you what’s happening behind the scenes when your payment solutions aren’t working, as well as some tips that you can follow to keep your customers calm and happy when things aren’t operating as they should.
First, let’s address why – despite having the best technology in your store – your card machines and mobile payment solutions occasionally just don’t work.
There are a number of reasons why your card machine or mobile solution will go down. These include:
- Load shedding.
Unfortunately, load shedding can impact your business in two ways. First, if your area is affected and the power goes out, your fixed and portable card machines won’t work if their batteries run out.
- Cellular providers are impacted by load shedding as well. Unfortunately, even if your area isn’t currently being loadshedd, your cellular providers could be, which will impact your machine’s ability to connect with your bank. While South Africa’s biggest cellular providers do have back-up batteries on all of their towers, these only last so long. Prolonged and regular load shedding means back-up batteries die and often aren’t fully recharged when the next stage begins. Fixed and portable machines as well as mobile solutions all rely on connectivity to work.
- Connection issues between your POS and your bank.
Connection issues between your POS and your bank can happen for a number of reasons. Load shedding is one of them, but there are others as well, including bank servers being impacted by server updates. These tend to be short-lived, but we know that each and every sale counts in your business, and downtime is not an option. While our partners endeavour to stay up and running, technology does require maintenance and updates, and occasionally even goes offline, and this impacts your machine’s ability to speak to the bank’s server.
Finding solutions and keeping customers happy
While there is never a good time to not be able to accept card payments, there are ways to keep your customers happy and your stress levels manageable.
- Knowledge is power.
Not being able to accept card payments is not good for business, but the more you understand what’s happening, the better you can communicate any issues to your customers and plan around the problem. Because we are so passionate about our clients, we are pro-active when we become aware of an issue. We will send out communications via email or SMS to keep you updated on the issues, as well as when you can expect a resolution. Make sure you’re checking your devices when your machines go down to ensure you’re receiving the information you need to manage customer expectations.
- Who is offline?
Because banks and cellular providers do occasionally go offline (even when there’s no load shedding, a great website, https://downdetector.co.za/ helps you to stay on top of whether your providers are dealing with a fault.
- Alert your customers.
Every merchant and restaurant has experienced this at one point or another, and most customers understand how technology has positively impacted our lives – but also that it sometimes just doesn’t work. The key is to be proactive. Generally speaking, if your customers know that you’re running into some technical difficulties but are trying to work through them, they would tend to be both understanding and patient. If you know your card payment solutions aren’t working, inform customers as they walk into your store – they can then choose what they’d like to do. Waiting until they’re ready to pay and in a rush however, is when you end up with irate customers.
- Ask for another card.
If a card is being declined or there are connection issues, it could be on the bank’s side. Many customers have more than one card, and simply trying to connect to another bank might solve the problem.
- Troubleshoot your error codes. We know that speed is critical, so your welcome box includes an Error Codes guide that will help you troubleshoot connection issues quickly and effectively. We also have self-help Youtube tutorials available online for store owners who are DIYers and love understanding their tech and how it works. For those who don’t, our call centre is also just a phone call away. Our job is to make sure you get paid.
- Buy a generator as a backup option as it will keep your ADSL/FIBRE line up and if you have WIFI terminals or fixed ADSL/FIBRE terminal it will continue working throughout load shedding. A big enough UPS will also assist in some instances.
Prepare your business for all eventualities
While we would love technology, cellular connections and servers to work 100% reliably, 100% of the time, reality sometimes has other plans for us. This means that the more ways you have to accept payments, the better.
There are a number of different ways you can do this. First, you can have a back-up machine. While fixed card payment machines are the easiest and most reliable way for independent outlets to accept cashless payments, portable card machines have batteries that will last for hours, even while you’re being load shedded.
Machines with dual SIM cards, or two machines that run on different cellular networks, also give you twice the coverage if one tower goes down. Just as we work with more than one banking partner to ensure continuity if there are connectivity issues, so too can multiple cellular providers ensure a greater chance of your machines ‘talking’ to a bank to complete a transaction.
Mobile card payment machines take this a step further. The GPRS technology on mobile card machines means your device will connect to the strongest network available. Sureswipe’s MOVE card machine also seamlessly connects to your smart device and allows your customers to pay for their purchases using their cheque, debit or credit cards. NB: If your smart device has poor connectivity, this will impact your payments; if your signal is weak in your store or at an event, make sure to get an extra router and never miss out on that card sale.
DO YOU WANT TO BOOST CUSTOMER SATISFACTION AND SURVIVE CONNECTIVITY ISSUES?
Get reliable, cost-effective card payment machines and support from Sureswipe today. Call 0860 200 111 or fill in your details here and we’ll call you.