Retaining your edge as a competitive business requires a lot of focus and business savvy. It also involves maintaining your technology so that you can offer your customers the convenience and service that they have come to expect in an increasingly mobile and computerized world. One area of technology that is experiencing a great deal of change and improvement is in credit card processing terminals.
Credit Card Terminals Are Important to Your Business
These terminals may be easy to overlook, but they have a huge impact on your customers’ satisfaction. In order to keep your credit card terminals up-to-date, you should develop an understanding of the function that the terminals play. You will also want to understand your choices in different credit card terminals. Finding out when and if you can arrange for customer service or IT service for your terminals can also be an important step in keeping business running smoothly.
The Different Functions Credit Card Terminals Provide
A credit card terminal is basically a device at the point of sale which allows your customers to use their credit card to complete their purchase. Credit card information is usually swiped into the device, keyed in by the cashier, or inserted into a special drive. The terminal then takes that information and sends it a merchant service provider. From there the information will either be authorized by the issuing bank or will be denied. This new information is returned to the point of sale through the terminal where the customer and cashier receive a notification.
With the increased use and improvement of technology, the functions available on credit card terminals now offer the customer and merchant a wide variety of options:
In addition to accepting credit card transactions, terminals can also accept debit cards, charge cards, and foreign cards.
For merchants who conduct transactions through the mail or the telephone, terminals allow you to run CNP transactions.
Some terminals have the ability to calculate tips and gratuities.
Some terminals may be able to process refunds or other adjustments.
Many terminals are able to operate under multi-merchant situations or to be integrated into a storewide POS integration.
Other functions of the terminal include asking for PIN or handwritten authorization from the customer, the ability to preauthorize cards, and the ability to undergo software updates from remote locations.
Many Styles and Options from One Terminal to Another
It is important for business owners, merchants, and hospitality providers to understand that there are many different types of terminals to choose from. It will be important to the success of your business that you understand how to intelligently compare credit card processing terminals before making a final decision.
Some of the different styles of credit card terminals are based on the type of business you operate. Terminals may be customized for a restaurant owner or for an auto repair shop; these terminals are not interchangeable. Another way to classify different credit card terminals is by whether they are mobile or fixed in place at the point of sale. Still a third way to categorize terminals is defined by their attachment to a phone line or wirelessly to the Internet.
There are many other options to choose from as you investigate the different styles of terminals available to you:
Some smartphones have the ability to become card reading terminals.
Other credit card terminals are available with built in printers.
Many terminals are able to run and read checks for payments.
Portable terminals allow merchants to make sales at farmers’ markets, trade shows, or from site-to-site delivery services.
Credit Card Terminal Maintenance
Once you have narrowed down your choices and have made a decision regarding which new terminal will be right for your situation, you will need to determine if the terminal provider will be a good choice. You want to have the assurance, in writing, that your terminal is covered by a warranty and that you will have help if there are ever problems with your terminal. In order to determine if the company is going to be a good match for you, there are some questions that you can ask before finalizing the deal.
Does the company have a certificate from each of the major credit card terminal manufacturers for which they are selling the terminals?
Are the prices competitive and do they come with the warranty?
Will the company allow you to trade in old machines when you are ready to upgrade to newer models?
Does the company offer other hardware and software so that your system can be uniform?
Can you rent any of the equipment?
What type of maintenance/repair services does the company offer?
Ask for references who would be willing to share their experience with the credit card terminal company. Always follow up with those references.
The best credit card processing terminals providers will be willing to answer your question and will probably have a lot of other information to share with you. Make sure that you can get all of the fees and information in writing before you finalize the deal and then be sure to carefully read over the information.
Keeping Credit Card Information Safe
As credit card terminals become more portable and as information is shared remotely and more conveniently, you will also notice a rise in criminal access to your customers’ credit card information. Keep your business and your customers safe by pursuing the most up-to-date means of protecting the information in the terminal. Many retailers and manufacturers of credit card terminals and other credit card processing equipment will be able to recommend software and policies that will increase the security of the terminal.
It All Comes Down to the Customer
Providing your customers with options at the point of sale has become an indispensable part of business success. It is clear to most business owners that keeping the customer happy is one of the highest priorities. The convenience that you can offer to your customers and clients has become vital to the satisfaction felt by the customer at the conclusion of a transaction. When you take the time to update and improve your software and hardware, your customers will recognize that you value their time and their patronage.
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