Keep Merchants Engaged to Cut Churn

For merchant acquirers, high churn rates are a constant drain on profitability. In the payments industry, churn averages a painful 12% per year, sometimes even higher depending on the vertical. While there’s no magic bullet to eliminate churn, acquirers can certainly minimize merchant turnover. Consider these 4 simple strategies to keep your merchants engaged.

1. Make Price Work for You

What’s the number one reason merchants leave? You guessed it: rates. It’s no surprise; smart business owners continually seek to economize on expenses wherever possible. And when your competitor down the street offers a tempting introductory rate, merchants may take the bait.

What merchants don’t understand, however, is that cheap rates are often misleading. And this is where you have the home court advantage. Make sure your own billing is crystal clear. Whether your merchants opt for bundled, tiered, or interchange-plus pricing, present their bills in a simple, user-friendly format. Whenever you sign a new merchant, go the extra step to teach them the ins and outs of their merchant agreements. That way, when a competitor makes an offer, your merchants have the education and understanding to be able to compare apples to apples.  

2. Differentiate Your Service

It’s likely that competitive rates are just the starting point of what you have to offer. Most acquirers provide a wide range of useful products and services to complement their POS systems. But unless you tell your merchants, they won’t know. Do you offer superior fraud protection? Billing flexibility? Remote equipment monitoring and software updates? Access to open API business management apps? All these features combine to produce a significant value add for your merchants.

Without a real relationship or understanding of the benefits you bring to the table, there’s little incentive for merchants to stay with their provider. Make sure to plan ongoing points of contact with your merchants. Not only can you let them know about the services you offer, you’ll have the opportunity to solve problems and misunderstandings before they become deal breakers.

3. Build Loyalty

While price is absolutely important, remember that people do business with people. To build loyalty, merchant acquirers have to go beyond competitive rates and products. Personalized contact pays big dividends. By paying attention to the details - promoting products specific to your merchants’ markets, placing regular outreach calls and mailings, responding to inquiries promptly and thoroughly - you can become a true asset to your merchants instead of a commodity. Remember that the more you invest in your merchants through time and attention, the more you’ll build ongoing customer loyalty.  

4. Use Your Data

Sometimes it may seem like a merchant jumps ship without warning. One month, everything seems fine, and the next month they’re out the door. How can you see warning signs and step in before it’s too late?

Analytics technology allows you to pinpoint merchants in crisis. Have your merchants called in to the help desk with unresolved problems? Have they posted on social media looking for new providers?  Is their monthly processing volume dropping? While it’s impossible to hand-touch thousands of individual accounts, with predictive modeling, you can reach the merchants that need attention before it’s too late.

Data can also help you offer your merchants their favorite item of all: discounts. With analytics, you can consider new pricing strategies that help you retain profitable existing merchants while maintaining margins. Fresh pricing allows merchants to feel content with the deal they’re getting, instead of looking for better options elsewhere.

Acquiring new merchants is hard work. At a cost of nearly $700 for each new merchant account, reducing churn is a top priority for merchant acquirers. By nurturing your merchants through competitive pricing, added value products, and attention to customer service, you can protect your merchant investment for years to come.

in Best Practices