Qualification & Integration Support
For most application developers, taking on payment integration can feel a lot like facing Everest without a Sherpa.
As we emphasized in the previous post in this series, Messages From the Edge: The Necessity of Support, support throughout the entirety of the payment integration lifecycle is key in establishing a lasting partnership with Software Companies. Support is, in fact, the longest technology lifecycle phase and a commitment that must be made when adopting an API strategy.
But support is more than just a set of technical resources to help a user solve a specific problem. Good support – the right support – begins with a plan designed to avoid those problems altogether.
When speaking with Software Companies who desire to leverage your payments service, there is an expectation of industry knowledge. This expectation runs both ways…the Software Company knows their customer needs and expects you, as the payments provider, to understand this and react as such. Conversely, the Software Company expects providers to know their service and provide accurate, appropriate tools. They are searching for a trusted advisor regarding, in this case, payments capabilities. Remember, adding payments to software is usually just a small part of the overall release for the Software Company. This intersection of two parties attempting to do business together, who don’t even speak the same language, represents the opportunity.
Translating Services to Meet Customer Requirements
To ensure a successful integration and deployment, payment providers must be willing to speak in a language the Software Company understands. This requires payment providers to translate their services and capabilities into specific customer/merchant benefits (payment provider Merchants are Software Company customers). This can’t be accomplished without a deep understanding of customer requirements and both short and long term goals.
The process of qualifying a Software Company for integration sets the tone for the balance of the relationship. If they begin by building the wrong solution, with the wrong set or incomplete set of services, the opportunity is immediately at risk and directly impacts Software Companies cost of doing business with you.
IP Commerce’s experience in this engagement process has taught us that using tools (automated questionnaires, simply completed forms, automated “decisioning” tools) is certainly valuable. However, it is also important to ensure that you leverage people to assist in qualifying an integration candidate and in resolving questions/issues when practical.
Upon successful and holistic qualification, support through the integration process begins. The standard modus operandi (or perception thereof) is that the Software Company is simply put into a queue and, when their turn arrives, they begin the process of getting an answer. Software Companies are forced into a process that requires wading through several layers of management prior to getting the answer they require to continue their development process. This puts the project at risk…as well as the revenue for both parties.
Can They Easily Find What They Need and Carry On?
The key to successful integration support is striking a balance between availability and flexibility. The first, and perhaps most important, is simple availability. Ensure that your Software Company partners (You are viewing them as partners at this point, right?) are able to obtain the support they need…when they need it.
Now that you have support resources (online, automated, and physical) that are available, it is important to ensure that these resources speak the “language” the Software Company expects. This is, perhaps, one of the more difficult challenges to overcome. How do your resources handle speaking to a PHP developer building an eCommerce application on one call while simultaneously assisting in the design and development of a multi-channel, multi-service .NET application for financial service billing on another? This is where the posture of partnership becomes wildly important. Your intimate knowledge of industry requirements and services is powerful when combined with the Software Company’s depth of experience in their specific vertical.
This availability and flexibility is a demonstrable investment of resource in the business success of the Software Company & Developer communities. This ensures that your commercialization process (people, product and process) is useful not only for their immediate project, but front of mind for all future projects.
Support is the longest, and most important, relationship when establishing a lasting partnership with Software Companies. Their deep knowledge of their solution allows expansion of your services into verticals that, otherwise, are simply untenable. The 1st integration a Software Company or Developer performs is only the beginning. Proper support during the qualification & integration phase sets the tone for the remainder of the Software Company experience…however, it is only the beginning of ensuring appropriate support through the entirety of the commercialization process.
In the next post in this series, we will discuss support during the Boarding & Enrollment phase.
We’ve been speaking from our experience as developers and on behalf of developers in the marketplace. Let us know if you have had a different experience than the point of view above by leaving us a comment below or send in your own Message from the Edge with our Contact Us form.
About the Author:
Peter Osberg is the Sr. Vice President, Business Development & Marketing for IP Commerce. With extensive senior-level experience in highly competitive, multi-sided markets, Peter is a well-established entrepreneur with a proven ability to plan, execute and administer successful sales and business development initiatives.