Are Your Customers “Paynuphobes”?

More and more businesses are realizing that if they don’t adopt mobile payments now, they’ll soon be dinosaurs in a market ruled by smartphone and tablet users.

So you’ve followed the trend, researched how mobile-payment technology can benefit your company and your customers, and decided to try it out. But you still have one hurdle to clear: convincing “paynuphobes” to trust the system.

Paynuphobes are customers who’d prefer to pay with a credit card, but when they see you whip out a digital device with a card reader attached, they either opt to pay in cash or leave your shop empty-handed.

Paynuphobes have many concerns about using new payment technologies. Chief among them is protecting their money. According to a 2012 survey [PDF] by the Federal Reserve, 42 percent of respondents said concerns about security of the technology were their primary reason for not using mobile payments.

Their worrying is at least somewhat justified. According to McAfee, cyber attacks on mobile phone users increased sixfold in 2012. (However, fewer than 20 percent of devices run any sort of antivirus software.)

What can you do to convert wary customers into mobile-payment fanatics? Here are some suggestions.

1. Choose a reputable mobile-payment service provider. The provider should encrypt all credit card information and adhere to online banking industry protection standards by using a secure (https://) connection over SSL at 128-byte encryption. Mobile devices should also be equipped with anti-virus software (choose a free, highly rated app). When you’re confident that your customers’ credit card information is secure, it will be easier to assuage their fears.

2. Explain the process. If people are apprehensive about having their credit cards swiped onto your smartphone, work to allay their fears by walking them through the transaction. Explain the process, step by step, from where their credit card information goes to how you collect their signature. Answer any questions they have along the way.

3. Be empathetic. Make sure your customers know that, as a business owner and fellow consumer, you share their concerns about credit card security. Let them know that you’ve done your due diligence in finding a payment provider that offers safe, reliable service. If you’re encountering paynuphobes on a regular basis, it may be helpful to keep a fact sheet on hand that answers frequently asked questions about your mobile-payment service and directs them to a website where they can get more information.

4. Don’t condescend. The last thing you want to do is make customers feel silly for having concerns. Rushing them through a transaction they don’t understand or talking down to them will not make them feel any more comfortable about mobile payments and could cost you their repeat business. Consider that, although mobile payments are on the rise, many people have never made a purchase using a smartphone. To these customers, it may look as if you’re entering their private information on your personal device. They will appreciate your patience and your transparency.

5. Be flexible. If, even after explaining your security precautions and walking someone through the payment process, a customer still seems reluctant to use their credit card, don’t press the issue. Ask if they’d like to pay with cash or check instead. Or, if you have a traditional cash register and credit card system, ring them up there. It you can’t offer other options, don’t make a customer feel bad for walking away from the purchase. Be professional, kind, and courteous at all times.

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