We all know that technology is constantly changing – sometimes faster than we can keep up with it. Whether you’re always the first to purchase the latest smartphone or still running Windows Vista on your computer, we can all agree that 2020 has thrown us a lot of curve balls – and that technology has played a big role in helping us deal with them.
Change has been especially evident in the payments industry. Most auto shops have had to modify how they accept payments over the past few months, and many of these changes are here to stay. Let’s take a look at four key ways that your shop can take advantage of new payment technology to be more efficient and productive.
Simple Hardware Upgrades Mean Big Changes
Back in the day, almost all credit card terminals were designed to be merchant-facing. This means that your service advisor would take the customer’s card and swipe it through a terminal behind the counter that only the service advisor was able to reach. The customer was forced to hand over physical control of their card, and sometimes the service advisor even needed to take the card into a back office to swipe it through a machine located out of sight of the front desk.
Today, security- and health-conscious consumers are understandably less comfortable with that arrangement. They want to be able to swipe, dip or tap their card at a terminal that faces them and that allows them to keep control of their financial data. If you’re not offering your customers the ability to pay this way, you’re sending a message that you’re a little behind the times when it comes to payment technology – and consumer expectations. Your credit card processor will be able to provide you with more information on what newer-style customer-facing terminals are available, including any costs to upgrade.
Contactless Payments Are Now the Norm
Does your shop accept Apple Pay? No longer an outlier in the payments universe, mobile wallets are becoming more and more common. Giving your customer the option to simply hover their smartphone over a credit card terminal and pay without touching the device (or anything else at the front counter) offers great peace of mind.
Plus, contactless payments provide an extra layer of convenience for the customer. Left their wallet at home? Not a problem – they can still pay for service with their smartphone, which most of us carry everywhere as though it’s attached to our bodies! Not sure if your terminal accepts Apple Pay or other mobile wallets? Your credit card processor will be able to explain the capabilities of your current unit and review upgrade options if the feature isn’t supported.
Remote Payments Are Here to Stay
What if your customers could pay you without ever physically entering your shop? This is where text and email payments come in. Imagine the following scenario: Your technician finishes repair work on a vehicle and the service advisor completes the RO. Now, instead of calling the customer and leaving a voicemail (or two…or three…), they can simply send a text message with the invoice. The customer can read that message whenever and wherever it’s convenient for them and pay their invoice directly from their phone.
Back at the shop, your service advisor receives a notification that the payment has been made. When they open the RO, they find that it has already been marked as paid automatically and that even the signature the customer scrawled on their phone has been transferred to the RO.
Fast forward to closing time. The customer still has not returned to pick up their vehicle – they got held up at work and won’t be able to make it till after your shop closes. Rather than paying your service advisor overtime to wait for the customer or asking the customer to come in the morning instead, you can lock up their keys in a secure location outside the building and head home for the night knowing you’ve already been paid. Your customer can then pick up their vehicle at their leisure – even at 9 or 10pm! This is all made possible through remote payments capabilities.
Upgrading Your Website Payment Capabilities
Setting up a payment portal to allow customers to pay you via your website is another great way to take advantage of remote payment technology. Building this will likely be a conversation between your credit card processor and whoever manages your website, but it shouldn’t be hard to do. Whether you’re adding a simple “Pay Now” button or a more elaborate shopping cart setup, your customers will appreciate the opportunity to pay online – especially since they’re already making so many of their other purchases there.
Staying on the Cutting Edge
Payment technology, like all technology, is going to keep evolving. How can you ensure that you’re offering your customers the experience they want and have come to expect when it comes to payments, especially when you have so many other things to pay attention to around your shop?
In large part, this comes down to the relationship you have with your credit card processor. To put it bluntly, if your processor acts like just another vendor as opposed to a true partner in your business’s success, it’s time to start shopping around.