Build Customer Trust for Online Payments, Part 1

When it comes to payment technology, it’s important to build trust with your customers. The people you serve are trusting that you’ll process their payment securely and that the money they spend will be reflected against their bill immediately.

Government and utility web payments provide a low-cost and convenient payment option for customers. We’ve talked about how we obsess over the details to earn customer trust when it comes to kiosk payment technology. Here, we’ll discuss best practices for earning trust when your customers are paying online. 

This is the first blog post in a two-part series.

Host All Payments on Your Web Domain

Utility providers and local governments can build their customers’ confidence by providing all online payment options using a consistent, intuitive user experience. Have all payment functionality, from lookup to checkout, on your official URL and in your branding. That includes one-time payments by either bank account or card, as well as recurring payments using a stored account. Even if you are using a vendor for payment processing, payment facilitators (like CityBase) can host payments and take on all PCI scope while still presenting payment pages using your branding, native on your web domain.

A person making a payment for something like a water bill or parking ticket can look up their debt, select the amount they want to pay and how they want to pay for it, and complete the entire transaction in one seamless experience — rather than being kicked off onto an unfamiliar third-party website. By enabling all payment functionality on your website, it’s both convenient for your customers, and it gives them the peace of mind that they are making a secure payment to the entity they’re used to interacting with: that’s you.

Provide Visual Cues, Display Confirmation Messages, and Send Receipts 

A good user experience will help guide a person through the payment process. You ensure a positive experience for customers by reducing friction so that making a payment is easier. This also makes your customers more likely to complete the full checkout (rather than abandoning mid-transaction) — and return to make future payments.

Clear language can let people know what to expect as they begin the process, where they are in that process, and once that process has been fully completed. Your payment flow may include steps like selecting the amount to pay, inputting payment details, confirming those payment details, and completing the payment. Consistent visual cues like green buttons to go forward and gray buttons to go back can help a person feel confident that they both understand the process and have control over it. 

Look for additional opportunities to give customers a sense of control, like confirming that their payment went through and their obligation with the city has been settled. Provide an onscreen receipt with their transaction number for their records, and email a receipt immediately following the payment, including transaction information as well as details about the obligation that was paid.

Use Clear Statement Descriptors for Card Payments

There are several things cities and utilities can do to reduce unexpected reversals, when a person disputes a payment after it has settled. For card payments, the first step is to ensure the descriptor appearing on the customer’s statement is clear, for instance, “City of Cityville Treasury Payment” vs. “CCT Payment.” Even better when it includes a customer service phone number. Clear descriptors help alleviate confusion surrounding a charge.

Let Customers Set Preferences

To build trust, it’s important to give customers a sense of control in their payment experience. Let them choose the method of payment that works best for them, whether that’s paying by card or eCheck, opting in to bill reminders before a payment is due, or storing their preferred payment method for faster check-out. Be transparent about service and convenience fees by keeping them as a separate line item during check out and on receipts. A person may choose to pay by eCheck if they know their credit card payment will incur an additional transaction fee.

Learn more ways to build customers’ trust in your payment experience in our next blog post.



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