payment credit card services

The extent to which disparate services and data sets need to be able to communicate seamlessly became abundantly clear when we visited a prospective customer site yesterday.

We had a wonderful opportunity yesterday to spend time with an existing customer. Also our main ISO Partner (NetPay) and a valuable prospect. All of this at the site of the prospective customer. That doesn’t happen often! What better way to gauge a customer experience than play customer yourself.

The Venue

It happened at a famous karting circuit in Kent which was opened many years ago by one of the great innovators of Motorsport, John Surtees. He was a man who was four-times 500 cc motorcycle World Champion and then went on to be the Formula One World Champion in 1964. He remains to this day the only man to have won World Championships on both two and four wheels.

If ever there is a place to question boundaries and whether or not they are surmountable, this was undoubtedly it.

Payment Providers

Whilst there we counted at least three separate payment services providers being used. One for EPoS in their cafe, one for face-to-face payments in their accessories store, and another within their e-commerce and on-line booking environment. What an opportunity for a single service provider to simplify and improve the customer experience.  Both for the venue itself, and for their customers.

What’s the Customer Experience?

It is currently likely that an end-user will book themselves into a track slot online by paying a deposit. Next, they will arrive at the circuit and pay the balance of their booking whilst purchasing a few mementoes of the day at this momentous facility. After whizzing (and spinning, in my case) around the track for an hour or so you are likely to be hungry and want a bite to eat. There is an excellent cafe to do so. All of these payments are taken separately and separate receipts will be provided. Annoying!

Integration?

Surely in this day and age it should be possible to manage all of this by charging the various “elements” of the day’s activities to the original order?  What about ordering some discounted goodies beforehand to be ready on arrival? Only to be presented with a payment device for the whole amount on departure. Allowing the customer to make a few extra purchases on the way around of course, we wouldn’t want to miss an opportunity to improve the experience!

What’s the Benefit?

The benefits of this go way beyond simplifying and improving the end-customer experience.  Presenting the customer with a single invoice at the end would be very slick. And it is without doubt that the end-customer experience that is most important.

So it is obvious that the benefits for the merchant in terms of cash and card reconciliation and then accounting are significant. But what about enabling the merchant to analyse and understand costumer behaviour as they pass though the facility and enjoy their experience? When and what are they most likely to buy, and how would they be most likely to do it? Would kiosks or the ability to order in advance increase takings? What about an app to do it via a smartphone? Surely it would enhance their overall enjoyment of the day too?

Until disparate systems and data sets start talking to each other, we will never know.