Cash flow is the blood of small businesses.
However, Australian payment times are among the slowest in the world according to the Australian Small Business and Family Enterprise Ombudsman (ASBFEO).
The payments landscape has evolved significantly, not just over the last decade – with the decline in cash payments – but the last two years, too thanks to the pandemic.
Australian consumers just like demand services that are not only COVID-safe, but convenient and seamless.
Nothing is better than contactless, SMS-based payments, which have the potential to empower local businesses and make it easier and quicker than ever to receive payment.
Millions of us work on our phones. Text messages have a 98% open rate and a 209% higher response rate than email – making it an ideal channel to send payment links.
85% of consumers prioritise pandemic-friendly services, like contactless payments, while 53% would consider seeking a competitor if a local business didn’t offer this.
So if you’re yet to embrace the contactless payment, here’s a guide to get you started.
What are contactless SMS payments?
It’s important to first understand what contactless SMS payments are.
Rather than a mechanic or any other type of local businesses issuing paper invoice via email, they can send a contactless payment link, via text, through a platform like Podium.
When an invoice is ready, it is sent as an SMS with a one-click payment link to a customer’s smartphone. Instead of them logging into sharing their card details, the link enables them to complete transactions quickly with credit, debit, Google Pay or Apple Pay.
Customers don’t share personal account details, so they won’t be susceptible to risks. What’s more, through Podium you can also see the status of all your transactions.
Not only does it help you stay on top of every transaction, it enables you to forecast cash flow, automatically send follow-up reminders for outstanding payments and even integrate payments with your accounting software to streamline tax time.
Analyse your current payment process
Have you ever abandoned a purchase because of an inconvenient payment process? Chances are many of your existing or prospective customers will have too.
So, don’t let your business be a victim. By removing the inherent friction and inconvenience associated with so many payment processes, contactless payments can help your business eliminate this costly issue.
However, before adopting contactless payments, it’s important to consider your current process. Do you spend too much time manually creating estimates, invoices and following-up overdue payments? Have disgruntled customers complained about limited payment options? If so, it’s time to embrace the convenience of contactless payments.
Ensure your business is textable
First of all, ensure that your business number can send and receive texts.
You can text-enable a landline, but this will not automatically be the case. A service like Podium can set up text messaging from your landline for you and let you control the entire process via your computer, tablet or smartphone.
It’s smart to set up your voice line for text messaging instead of getting a new number as it will allow customers to call or text you at one number instead of multiple.
One of the benefits of using contactless payments is that customers can save your number in their phones for future use. This provides peace of mind that, when they receive a message or payment link, they know it’s you and legitimate.
Train employees to issue text payments
When your business is capable of sending and receiving texts, make this a default method of interacting with customers. To do so, you’ll need to ensure your employees understand the process and feel comfortable answering questions and making sales via text.
With the right software, training will be less and the process as simple as sending a text.
Offer alternative payment options
Before you set up text payment, ensure that you can accept several payment types via the link you send your customers. Remember, consumers today prioritise convenience and business on their terms above all else. So, consider the payment methods they might use, such as direct deposit, Apple Pay, Google Pay, credit cards, debit cards, and more.
The easier it is for them to pay, the faster you’ll likely receive the money in your account.
You have to inform the customers in advance that this option is available. Otherwise, if you send a text payment without forewarning them, it’s unlikely they’ll trust the link.
So consider sending a message in your SMS marketing campaign announcing the new payment option, or advertising it in your physical business and social media channels.
Start texting customers for payment
All that is left to do is start issuing payment links to clients when they receive their goods.
Let them know how and when they will be getting the payment request, so they know to look out for it. For example, once they’ve collected their car or you’ve finished their home improvement or website design, let them know they’ll be receiving a payment link.
If you send it soon after completing the work, while it’s fresh in their mind, the sooner it is they’re likely to pay. For any outstanding payments, you can follow up via text too.
This is less awkward and more convenient than a phone call, and customers appreciate a friendly reminder before you begin to escalate an unpaid invoice.
For both you and your customers, the benefits of contactless payments are numerous.
For them, it’s convenient, secure and can even improve customer satisfaction. For you, it helps reduce payment times and demonstrates you’re a modern and evolving business eager to change with the times and cater to their habits and preferences.
Dave Schiene is the Country Manager, Australia at Podium, a communications and payments platform for local businesses