Improve settlement rate success with IVR and Agent Assisted Payments

Since the COVID-19 crisis unfolded last year nearly all business sectors have been grappling with economic uncertainty. Today, more than ever, cashflow plays a critical role in business survival. Rob Crutchington, Managing Director at Payment Service Provider,  Encoded, discusses how choosing the right payment solutions can both improve settlement rates and customer service.

Cashflow is the lifeblood of every business. But managing healthy cash reserves can be an ongoing struggle for any company, particularly those that have seasonal operations, peaks and troughs or long-term projects that can only be billed after completion.

In the last 12 months pressure has ramped up even further. With job losses, furlough and financial uncertainty as a result of the pandemic, customers and businesses have been reducing outgoings and looking for flexible ways to pay off credit cards and debts. Companies have had to be agile in how they accept, manage and process payments.

Why settlement rates are important for business

Every customer or supplier situation is different, which means processing payments to result in successful transactions can vary, significantly impacting a business’ bottom line. Companies that can process fast, accurate payments enjoy better cashflow, enabling them to reap the benefits by:

  • Reinvesting in the business – organisations that have cash moving through their accounts puts them in a stronger position to buy new stock or invest in new systems to streamline processes
  • Being more productive – with accurate and secure payments, a business spends less time managing finances and chasing debts through fraudulent activity and can devote more energy to their customers
  • Reducing debt – a healthy bank balance can help to minimise monthly financial commitments such as high-interest rates, late payment fees and paying suppliers.

Choosing the right payment method pays dividends

Providing a choice of secure payment options as well as an approachable, helpful service for customers or suppliers is the ideal way to improve cash flow. In this way potential weaknesses and opportunities for fraud are mitigated, which benefits all parties in the supply chain. Organisations are assured of payment and customers have confidence that their accounts have been settled.

Different technologies are available to facilitate payments, whether online, via a customer’s chosen digital channel or speaking directly to a contact centre agent.  However, whatever method is chosen must ensure PCI DSS Compliance, the payment security standard (created by The PCI Security Standards Council[i]) that provides guidance to contact centre and payment card processors. The standard outlines how to process, store and transmit information about the payment card and its owner, designed to reduce card fraud and promote best practice in information security.

Secure technology that provides flexibility for the customer

Interactive Voice Response (IVR) payment methods are viewed as an effective way to accept and process transactions and achieve compliance. IVR allows callers to enter their card data via touch tones 24/7 to settle debts. Cost effective and secure, customers can make payments quickly and accurately with no agent contact, at a time they choose, from any location using their phone.  

IVR, mixed with agent handling of calls, can also provide the perfect blend of secure technology and personal customer service to help reduce debts. Encoded’s Agent Assisted Payment solution enables secure transactions while the agent is on the call with the customer. It allows for flexibility, for example, if the customer requests to reduce (or increase) a monthly payment.

The customer then enters their payment details while on the call – all card data is screened from the agent, helping to meet security compliance. This can help reduce the number of missed payments, with possible hefty payment fines for customers and potential knock-on bank charges or cash flow implications for the company.

Three key reasons for choosing IVR:

  • Reduces the costs of PCI DSS compliance and other security compliance programs – companies that choose IVR payment solutions streamline customer services both financially and operationally. Using IVR payment processes, card data is stored outside of the contact centre, helping with PCI DSS compliance. Customers are assured that their card data is both secure and managed, to comply with legislation by the payment solutions provider.
  • Improves Customer Experience (CX) – agent assisted payments can help to improve the customer experience. An IVR system can be integrated with customer relationship management (CRM), finance and other customer related systems, directing the customer quickly to the relevant agent. Agents can be provided with customer details, call and purchase history to facilitate the enquiry and improve the outcome.
  • Tokenisation helps save time and resources – providing customers with the option to save payment details for recurring payments is ideal for repeat or subscription payments, such as regular settlement amounts. No more chasing outstanding fees or payments, storing card data for future payments as a token (Tokenisation) also allows contact centres to meet security compliance. The whole payment process is faster, easier and more secure for regular customers and saves time and resource for organisations.

Businesses that invest in the right technologies can reap the rewards in accuracy of data, efficiencies in processing and collecting payments. In successful customer service operations, providing agents with the right tools and customers with secure payment options helps ensure PCI DSS compliance and improve settlement rates. Looking forward to the business challenges in 2021, investment now will pay dividends later.

[i] The PCI Security Standards Council is formed of five of the largest payment card providers: VISA, MasterCard, American Express, Discover and JCB International).