Payment Processing that Scales: How to Future-Proof Your Payments Infrastructure

By Chandra Chakravarthi November 29, 2018

Zuora partner Sertifi, the leader in Frictionless Business, with innovative solutions for modernizing the last mile of the sales process, details the risks of failing to adopt new payment methods and explains how to leverage processes and solutions to scale your payments infrastructure.

STEP 1: MOVE AWAY FROM PAPER-BASED METHODS OF HANDLING TRANSACTIONS

Today’s customers want and expect convenience, simplicity, and speed in their day-to-day tasks. One of those everyday tasks is making payments.

Paper credit card authorization forms are still a common way to collect payments, but in today’s smartphone driven world, your business needs to digitize them if you want to make it convenient and easy for your customers to pay. Clinging to the old paper-based way of collecting credit card authorization forms will only continue to slow down payment processing.

It is disruptive for customers to have to print and scan an authorization form back to your business. It’s also an inconvenience for businesses because they must take additional steps to ensure the paper credit card authorization forms are secure and only authorized people have access to it, and to maintain a log of who has access. These manual processes widen PCI scope at your company because there is more human exposure to the credit card data.

Did you know paper credit card authorization forms can be fully digitized? This is a quicker, more secure, and PCI-compliant method than sending out paper forms for customers to print, fill out and sign, and fax back. When you eliminate those types of manual tasks, the turnaround time to receive a payment increases. And you are providing your customers a seamless way to pay.

STEP 2: CONSIDER OFFERING A SUBSCRIPTION-BASED PRICING MODEL AND/OR ALTERNATIVE PAYMENT METHODS

Subscription-based pricing was pioneered by the magazine and newspaper industries. However, with the emergence of SaaS companies, Zuora’s Founder and CEO Tien Tzuo saw a growing movement that he coined the “Subscription Economy” which continues to gain popularity as more industries from software to manufacturing to direct-to-consumer businesses make the shift to business models. In fact, according to Gartner, by 2020 more than 80 percent of software vendors will change their business model from traditional license to a subscription-based business model.

A subscription model has value for both your business and customers. For businesses, it provides predictable cash flow, increases your customer base, and builds brand loyalty over time. For customers, a subscription model offers convenience, lower upfront costs, and greater value over time.

Transitioning to a subscription model can be a gradual transition. You can keep your existing payment structure (i.e. have customers pay upfront for products/services) while also offering a subscription option. This enables you to begin to demonstrate the value that comes with subscription models.

Even if going all-in on a subscription model is not an appropriate fit for your business at this time, consider starting to offer alternative payment options such as digital wallets, ACH, or bank transfers. These payment methods can be handled with smartphones making it easy for customers to pay while on the go. Both digital wallets and bank transfers are predicted to become the top two popular payments methods globally by 2021.

STEP 3: DO AWAY WITH HOMEGROWN SYSTEMS

Thanks to the power of mobility, we are living in a convenience-driven world. But some people are still creatures of habit…even if “habit” is often inefficient.

The same can be said for your existing payments infrastructure. Maybe you stick with your existing payment infrastructure because you aren’t clear on new and better solutions, or maybe it’s because you can’t get buy-in to transition to new payment processing solutions. Whatever the reason, if your business is using disjointed systems to get documents signed and collect credit card information, it is a loss in productivity for your team.

This was a challenge that the team at Millennium Systems International experienced. Prior to using Zuora and Sertifi, their team was using a variety of homegrown and third-party systems to manage the customer acquisition process (executing agreements) and to administer the payment activity. This process lacked financial controls, caused delays in the acquisition process, and disrupted the onboarding process.

“There was a significant time lapse between acquisition and the commencement of service delivery which resulted in a poor customer experience (first experience more importantly),” said Millennium Systems International’s Chief Operating Officer Matthew Scudder.

While there may be familiarity when it comes to using homegrown tools, there is typically more manual labor associated with it. When you move to a solution that does everything in one unified system, you regain that time that used to be spent doing manual administrative tasks, plus you reduce the errors that are a byproduct of manual workaround systems.

STEP 4: LOOK FOR TIGHT INTEGRATIONS BETWEEN SOLUTIONS

As your business continues to thrive, there comes a tipping point when you need to streamline processes so that your team can operate more efficiently and provide your customers a better user experience.

When systems are not integrated, there is disparate data living in different solutions. When data is living in multiple systems, this creates more manual tasks and an increased likelihood for human error. Disjointed internal systems impact your team’s productivity.

These were obstacles that the Sales and Accounting teams at Millennium Systems International had been experiencing before utilizing Zuora for subscription billing and management, Sertifi for secure eSignature and payment collection, and Drawloop for contract generation.

Choosing a solution vendor that offers tight product integrations decreases the need for manual processes and saves your team time because tasks are streamlined in one cohesive solution.

“The ecosystem that we built out consisting of Zuora, Salesforce, Drawloop, and Sertifi created a turnkey solution for us, essentially transforming the manner in which we acquire customers and elevate the level of service provided there afterwards,” says Millennium Systems International’s COO Matthew Scudder.

Tighter integrations keep business processes running smoothly and gives your business the competitive advantage of efficiency. For customers, you are giving them a more seamless experience with your business.

STEP 5: MAINTAIN THE HIGHEST LEVEL OF SECURITY STANDARDS AND FOLLOW PCI GUIDELINES

Everyone is at risk for a data breach, particularly as hackers are becoming more adept at breaking into systems. It seems like every day we hear about another security breach. Unfortunately, breaches can be incredibly costly. According to a study conducted by Ponemon Institute and IBM Security, the average cost of a data breach worldwide is $3.86 million. And, in the worst-case-scenario, security breaches can be detrimental to the future of your business.

The best methods to protect your business and your customers’ data are to evaluate your existing manual processes, establish a security plan that follows PCI-compliant guidelines, and educate your team about best practices in cybersecurity.

Eliminating manual processes that potentially expose sensitive customer data and instilling a security-first company culture can go a long way in protecting your organization from a data breach.

And when looking for an online payment solution, make sure the product has features such as credit card number verification, tokenization, and two-step authentication which safeguards sensitive data and reduces human exposure to it. These features can also decrease chargebacks and fraudulent activity.

Everyone is vulnerable to data breaches. That’s why it is critical to stay up-to-date on PCI-compliance and to educate your team, so they can be vigilant too.

SCALING YOUR PAYMENT INFRASTRUCTURE TO REMAIN COMPETITIVE

To remain competitive and relevant, you need to incorporate new forms of payment technology into your existing infrastructure.

Customers want a simple and hassle-free payment experience, and it is up to you to provide that—or risk losing them to your competitors.

If you’re interested in learning more about Sertifi and how they’ve integrated Zuora’s payment technology into their closing solution so users can send eSignatures and payment requests from Z-Quote, send them a message.

Want to see how Zuora’s Global Payments Engine lets your customers pay anyway they want to pay? Watch our free demo.