More than ever, touch-free payment solutions are an absolute necessity for businesses in an increasingly contactless and cash-free world.
Today’s customers use their phones for just about everything, with 60% preferring them to make payments and more than 80% reporting that multiple bill-pay options increase their satisfaction. According to Accenture, the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the “adoption of contactless payments in a major way,” pushing “many markets towards a new cashless paradigm.”
Whether because they’re on-the-go or socially distancing, consumers are looking for additional mobile, remote ways to pay. Not everyone always has access to a computer or smart device, so alternative payment options are needed beyond just websites and online portals — particularly for those merchants considered “high-risk.” And with more people working from home, making calls and conducting business outside the office, companies and consumers are looking for simple, secure pay-by-phone solutions like IVR and Text 2 Pay.
What is IVR?
Interactive Voice Response is a technology that enables customers to make credit card and ACH payments over the phone. IVR replaces human interaction with an automated system that can handle higher call volume and more efficiently process transactions, decreasing workload and increasing cash flow.
IVR allows callers to use the number pad’s touch-tone input to provide their credit card information. This is communicated through secure software to the company’s payment gateway or other integrated processor that then completes the transaction. The IVR technology:
- Interprets the phone’s touch-tone or speech recognition input.
- Communicates that input to the payment software solution.
- Informs the caller of any issues, including incorrect data.
- Accepts confirmation of a completed payment from the software solution.
- Allows the caller additional service options once the transaction is complete.
How it works
For merchants, IVR payments follow a basic process:
- Customers call your IVR payment line and are greeted and guided through a series of prompts.
- They enter their unique payment reference number (i.e. invoice, account, policy).
- With look-up features enabled, your system can validate customer data and provide the account balance or invoice amount.
- Customers enter their credit card, debit or ACH payment information.
- The information is authorized in real time by connecting to your payment processor.
- Customers receive verbal confirmation of payment and can also choose to receive written confirmation via text.
- The transaction appears on your online merchant account immediately.
- Payment transactions can be posted directly to your business in real time when they’re integrated with your billing and accounting systems.
Benefits of IVR
There are many benefits to a pay-by-phone solution, including:
- Payments 24/7, 365: The automated IVR system is always on and able to accept payments anytime and anywhere that customers want to make them.
- Self-service efficiency: Customers don’t have to wait on hold and can take care of their own business, while businesses can handle many calls simultaneously.
- Happier customers: More convenient payment channels, multiple languages and instant confirmation mean increased customer satisfaction and loyalty.
- Higher profitability: With no human staffing considerations for customer service and payment processing, businesses reduce man hours and labor costs.
- Reliable compliance: Fully automated IVR platforms reduce PCI DSS exposure and help businesses manage risk by eliminating the human element.
- Electronic records: An automated payment system produces accurate data, allowing businesses to better track inventory and customer behavior and streamline dispute management.
- Easy integration: Quick and simple to set up, IVR systems are a single source for reporting and many can be completely integrated with virtual terminals and other payment solutions.
Security and compliance considerations
The truth is, it’s extremely hard to maintain proper security standards if a company is not using a fully automated IVR system to accept payments. Whenever a customer voices credit card information to an agent over the phone, there is a risk of violation of the Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI DSS), which apply to any entity that processes or transmits cardholder data, including CBD chains.
PCI DSS noncompliance could mean incurring fines, forfeiting the ability to accept cards and even losing your business. While there are tools out there to help improve the agent payment process and redact call recordings, the best way to maintain compliance is to remove the live agent.
It’s important to remember there is a difference between being PCI DSS compliant and certified. Compliance means vendors are following security requirements, while certification means that vendors are not just meeting industry standards, they are submitting to and passing regular PCI DSS audits.
Most people have a phone, but not everyone has a high-end smartphone. SMS is ubiquitous in old and new mobile phones, so pay by text options can work for all of your customers, 78% of whom are already using their phones to pay.
Allowing customers to make secure payments and get instant confirmation through SMS, Text 2 Pay offers a quick, simple and painless user experience and is especially convenient for recurrent payments.
How FLEX can help
Your customers want easy and convenient methods to make payments. You want safe and fast ways to accept those payments. Now, businesses of all sizes and types – including CBD and Native American merchants – are recognizing the benefits of payments by voice and text.
Any merchant that deals with consumer transactions should be incorporating IVR and Text 2 Pay into its contactless payment strategy. FLEX Payment Solutions has partnered with IVR Technology Group to deliver clients a robust suite of flexible processing solutions and increase customer satisfaction with the ability to pay by phone.
Companies that provide voice and text payment options have reported substantial increases in revenue, and consumers enjoy instant gratification and the convenience of having options. Adding Text 2 Pay and IVR functionality will help you save money and grow your business.