How the Checkout Line Can Make or Break a Great Customer Experience

Monday, February 01, 2016

There are a lot of ways you can drive a good customer experience—excellent service, a smiling face or even great music. But have you ever thought about how the customer feels when paying for their meal or purchase? It IS the last experience they have before they leave, and it can leave a lasting impression.

Many customers are accustomed to a quick checkout. Providing a breezy and speedy payment experience can determine if you have earned their future business… or result in the one disappointed review on social media.

Do your customers have options?

Millennials are at the forefront of new payment technology, but non-millennials are also looking for the easiest way to complete a purchase today. Offering limited payment options may result in dissatisfied customers and potentially affect whether the customer makes a purchase.

Can they use their mobile phones?

Mobile wallets and wearable technology have gained popularity recently and will most likely continue to flourish for years to come. According to a study published by market research and consulting firm Chadwick Martin Bailey (CMB), familiarity and usage of these payment technologies have doubled since 2013. The study concluded that 15 percent of the respondents have used a mobile wallet in the past six months, and an additional 22 percent are likely to use one in the next six months.

Can they use their new EMV cards?

Surprisingly, only 60 percent of consumers were issued a chip card as of October 31, 2015—but the number is going to rise. EMV-enabled cards carry the chip, but they still contain the magnetic stripe for those merchants whose equipment isn’t EMV-compatible. Because the EMV-enabled card is more complex, the transaction takes longer than swiping a card. Implementing a contactless payment option, such as Apple Pay or Android Pay, provides customers with another payment option that can speed up the process.

Can they pay via self-checkout?

Another option already located in grocery stores, gas stations and other large retailers is self-checkout. Sure, there are some shoppers that appreciate the face-to-face contact and one-on-one conversations at checkout, but peoples’ sense of urgency today is front and center. Offering your customers a self-checkout option has its benefits, too—less wait time, privacy for items being purchased, and sometimes, customers just aren’t in the mood to interact with others.

Can customers pay quickly?

Organization and training your employees are key, so make sure your payment process gets your customer in and out quickly. Kind and knowledgeable employees can also help relax impatient customers waiting in line. Since EMV-enabled cards will be in most customers’ wallets over the next year, mobile payments acceptance may be a good option to speed up the checkout process. Other quick-pay options include digital receipts via email or text. Simple signage in line or at the terminal also can set customer expectations. If a customer sees a sign that Apple Pay is offered, they can make a quick, informed decision if they want to use that option. If you have a sign at the terminal blocking the chip reader that states you don’t accept chip cards yet, the customer won’t try to dip instead of swipe—reducing checkout time. Be sure that your sign looks professional… unlike the Post-it note above.

An intuitive point of sale (POS) can also streamline the payment process. Your POS can streamline processing coupons, fulfilling special requests or completing a sale when an item isn’t scanning properly.

Are your employees knowledgeable and pleasant?

The cashier can have a lasting, strong impact on the customer. In fact, the attitudes of your employees are possibly the most important factor. Customers can forgive many things, but a confused or rude employee could seriously affect your business in the long run. There are a few questions you should ask yourself when evaluating your employees: Can they answer all product, sale and payment questions? Are they trained to seamlessly walk customers through the payment process? Do they have a positive attitude?

Try role-playing with your employees for different situations, (e.g., dealing with difficult orders or taking payments with different devices). It is especially important, when using EMV for the first time, that your employees are patient when explaining the new process to customers.

Bottom line: Being offered multiple payment options by polished and confident employees will only enhance a customer’s experience—earning you a returning, loyal customer.

If you haven’t upgraded to EMV-compatible equipment, it’s not too late. Visit Heartland’s EMV page to learn more.