As payments professionals, we have a lot to offer our companies although we may deal with a perception that payments processing is mostly an expense that needs to be minimized. Whether we work in Treasury, Finance, IT, or Customer Excellence, payments provide invaluable insights into our businesses – much of which may be underutilized. By distributing a Payments Newsletter with timely insights to executive leadership you’ll be able to help drive profitable customer retention and acquisition strategies while building important relationships and an understanding of the value of efficient payment processing.
Here are some tips along with examples of how leadership valued payments insights delivered through an internal newsletter during the pandemic.
Building an Audience – Start with a small email distribution to allies in CX, Finance, Treasury, IT, and Marketing. If the content has value and is interesting, expect the content will be forwarded, and the distribution will grow.
Timing is Everything - It may make sense to start with a scheduled monthly or quarterly distribution; however, you may find that your audience loses interest if the content is perceived as “business as usual.” You might have more success by using an event-driven strategy, possibly a big product release, a major improvement to payments performance, a cost reduction, or an economic event. For instance, during the pandemic leadership appreciated charts showing the immediate positive impact from the government stimulus checks along with a call to action to increase sales and reduce past due balances.
Content is King – Keep in mind that you are competing for your readers’ valuable time, and you must earn their attention. Leadership will be more interested in reviewing your color commentary and charts than examining detailed statistics. You will want to focus on trends and system improvements that are moving the needle and carefully choose your KPIs. At times, you may want to supplement your internal payments stats with acquirer and card network reporting as they may have access to industry stats and demographic info that are helpful to marketing and CX teams. Other reports from the Federal Reserve and the JP Morgan Institute are often helpful. The latter produced some very interesting Household Checking Account Balance reports during the pandemic that showed how consumers were slow to spend the original stimulus payments but spent the funds more quickly in the later rounds as the economy opened. It was a smart strategy to time promotions, sales incentives, and collection efforts around these stimulus payments.
Style Pointers – Carefully construct a catchy subject line that covers each of the key points and piques readers’ interest. Take extra time to remove industry jargon and abbreviations to communicate in a way that nearly everyone understands. It may be helpful to have a trusted proofreader that has no knowledge of the payments industry review documents prior to distribution. Do not miss opportunities to give kudos to individuals and highlight partnerships between business units that have helped deliver success.
Think Like a CEO – It’s helpful to have a deep understanding of the role payments play in the key metrics that analysts use to track your company – especially customer attrition – which is of paramount importance to subscription-based merchants. We were all in uncharted waters at the beginning of the pandemic, and this created a lot of uncertainty which resulted in the stock market falling over 30 percent. It was a bit of a surprise at this time of economic turmoil that many merchants experienced an improvement in recurring payments performance. Leadership used charts showing significant improvement in recurring payments processing on conference calls to reassure investors that the pandemic could improve customer attrition rates. This prediction came true as record low attrition rates were experienced later during the pandemic by some merchants.
Lay the Foundation for the Future – Writing and distributing a newsletter is a place to start building awareness of emerging trends in payments. A current trend to watch is large banks such as Wells Fargo, Capital One, and Bank of America will soon eliminate NSF and overdraft fees. This may benefit merchants who accept ACH payments as they will be able to be more aggressive in collecting funds with less concern for impacting customers with NSF fees. Merchants should start evaluating their own NSF fee policies as these fees impact the vulnerable and are being viewed differently.
Conclusion – Payments is a critical function for your organization, and producing a newsletter will increase visibility into the value of payments and strengthen alliances throughout your organization.