By Sherry Reisman
For much of your association’s lifetime, accepting and managing payments digitally likely wasn’t an option. Invoices, receipts, credit card slips – every document related to every transaction was in paper form.
And then add in the fact that the only methods for receiving or delivering paperwork were postal mail, a fax machine, or in person? The whole process was cumbersome and could be remarkably frustrating for everyone involved. Can you believe we lived through that era?
Thankfully, that’s no longer the case. You now have the option to take advantage of technology to upgrade your members’ payment experience.
But opportunities to incorporate technology into the payment process go well beyond just emailing members receipts. For example, with an online payment solution you can create a convenient end-to-end payment experience both you and your members will appreciate.
Here are six ways online payment technology can help you create a better member payment experience.
Allow Members to Pay by Their Preferred Method
According to the most recent Survey of Consumer Payment Choice, 60 percent of bills are paid online or automatically. Additionally, about 20 percent of consumers who had paper checks available didn’t use them, not even once, in 2017.
Based on this data, it’s safe to assume a considerable percentage of your members want the option to pay online by credit card, debit card or eCheck. Online payment technology enables you to let members pay how they want to, instead of restricting them to only in-person transactions with cash or requiring them to mail a paper check.
Accept Mobile Payments
Along with giving you the ability to accept payments on your website, online payment technology allows you to easily take payments on site at events. If you have to write down a member’s payment details to charge them later, you run the risk of losing the form, recording the information incorrectly, or simply forgetting to run the charge once you get back to the office. Besides the loss of revenue, the security implications of writing down credit card numbers are troublesome.
But with a mobile app and credit card swiper, you can securely accept payments for dues, event registrations, donations, and more – instantly. Members can take care of outstanding balances on the spot, and you don’t need to worry about following up later. Plus, you can add event-specific tags to mobile payments, which helps you differentiate the transactions and makes reporting easier.
By offering the option to pay at the event, you’re also making attendance possible for a larger audience. For example, members who weren’t able to pay for registration in advance or individuals who became members after the deadline for sign-ups can still come and enjoy the event.
Keep Sensitive Information Safe
Because paper checks pass through more hands than eChecks, there are more opportunities for fraud and/or interception by would-be criminals. Plus, paper checks and credit card slips can be damaged or lost in transit.
But with online payment technology, checking account or credit card information is transmitted directly to the financial institution. Furthermore, top-tier online payment solutions have powerful security features that ensure payment details are protected, such as advanced encryption methods and PCI Level 1-compliant technology. With secure online payment technology, you can be confident your members’ information is safe.
Offer Recurring Payment Plans
One of the most valuable benefits of online payment technology is it enables you to offer recurring payments. In a recurring payment model, members are automatically charged for dues at designated intervals. They can choose the frequency and amount that works best for their budget and avoid paying a single large lump sum. Plus, they don’t have to worry about remembering to pay, making it easier for them to stay active in the association.
In addition, the ability to pay dues throughout the year instead of all at once can be a big draw for potential members who are hesitant to spend hundreds of dollars before they’ve reaped the benefits of membership. (As an added bonus, recurring payments provide your association with a more consistent cash flow and can help you weather seasonality by supplementing your revenue during leaner months.)
Securely Store Credit Card Details
Keeping a member’s credit card on file certainly makes it easier for your association to collect payments. However, storing credit card information in your office not only considerably increases your risk of having private data compromised, it also multiplies your security responsibilities – particularly in terms of PCI compliance.
With premium online payment solutions, however, you have the
option to save credit card numbers on the provider’s secure server. Larger
companies have the resources to keep payment information safe and properly
encrypted while still allowing the cardholder to take advantage of the
convenience of a stored card. This technology lets you create a secure checkout
where members can pay for dues or event registration fees with
just a click.
Send Reminder Emails with Payment Links
In Aite Group’s survey of over 2,400 U.S. consumers, 93 percent claimed they find bill pay reminders helpful, and nearly half say they would sign up for email reminders if they were offered.
With online payment technology, you can not only email payment reminders, you can also include a direct link to a personalized payment portal. Members can easily view and securely pay any outstanding balances immediately from their computer or smartphone.
Including a payment link in the email is an important element of a positive member payment experience since it gives members a direct route to your payment page. They don’t have to wander through your site trying to find payment instructions or write themselves a note to submit a payment later. Instead, they can take care of it as soon as they see the email.
An exceptional member experience is the key to increasing engagement and boosting loyalty. And an opportunity to improve the member experience exists in every interaction – even billing and invoicing. Make sure your member payment experience is extraordinary by using online payment technology for your association.
Sherry Reisman is Associations Manager at Affinipay for Associations (associations.affinipay.com), where she helps associations provide a simple, secure, and streamlined way to accept payments for membership dues, event registrations, donations, and more. As a seasoned association professional herself, she understands associations’ needs and can be reached at [email protected] or (512) 872-6169.
Photo credit: iStock.com/martin-dm