Social media is a preferred way for customers to interact with brands and businesses and has become one of the most important and dynamic channels for customer service and engagement. According to the 2018 PwC Global Consumer Insights Survey, social networks are the biggest source of inspiration for consumer purchases with 57 percent of consumers finding purchase inspiration through social networks. This far surpasses the individual retailer websites (34 percent), price comparison websites (32 percent) and emails from brands/retailers (14 percent). However, as social channels generate purchasing decisions, they continue to be plagued by challenges that fragment the customer experience. As a result, transactions over social channels have yet to realize their tremendous potential.
How Consumers are Accessing Social Media for Making Purchases
Social media’s appeal, adoption and global use are undeniable. Billions of people across the world sign on to these platforms regularly, with more than 300 million monthly active users on Twitter alone. Regardless of the industry a business operates in, their customers are using these or other popular social media platforms. Not only are customers using these platforms, but research shows that they now expect the businesses and brands with whom they interact with to provide customer service and support via these channels. According to Smart Insights, 63 percent of consumers expect companies to offer customer service via their social media channels and 90 percent of social media users have already used social media to communicate with a brand or business. Other consumer surveys have shown that 45 percent of consumers go to social media first, when they have a question or issue with a business and 21 percent say they would rather message a brand on social media than call their customer service department.
It’s important to note as well how consumers are accessing social media platforms today, and on what medium they are making social media purchases the most. According to Smart Insights, although mobile accounts for most visits to social media sites across the internet (for example, when consumers access and use Twitter through their mobile phone), this is not exactly the case when they decide to make a purchase of goods or services. Thus far, mobile accounts for slightly over a third of all e-commerce visits, likely due to the inconsistency and choppy journey from navigation to payment forms. It’s obvious that businesses need new tools and technologies focused specifically on enabling frictionless and secure mobile buying experiences.
What Is Standing in the Way of Enabling Secure, Frictionless Social Media Purchases?
While businesses now recognize the importance of social media as a digital channel they must support in order to engage with customers, enabling a secure and frictionless purchasing journey for consumers over social channels remains a challenge. Previously, making a purchasing decision through social channels has required sending the customer outside of that channel to make the actual payment and complete the purchase. This results in a disparate customer experience and fuels a massive volume of customers abandoning transactions.
Consumers are also weary of putting payment card information over social sites given all of the recent data breaches across online platforms, including Facebook. Because of this, it is incredibly important that businesses establish a secure and compliant way for consumers to make purchases, and alleviate worries of their data potentially being hacked, and concurrently, alleviate the business from having to fear a potentially brand-damaging data breach.
Fortunately, new technologies are emerging that allow businesses to use the power of social media as a direct sales channel, while still protecting valuable personal and payment card information, remaining compliant with Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard (PCI DSS), all while offering a seamless buyer experience.
How Businesses Can Securely Enable Payments Through Social Media Platforms
While social media platforms have begun to roll out peer-to-peer payment methods, enabling users to pay each other through their sites, until now there has not been a convenient and secure way for businesses to accept payments directly from customers on these platforms.
Sending customers out of the social channel and redirecting them to a website to complete the payment process increases the likelihood that they will drop out of the purchasing process completely, causing the business to miss sales. This also creates a negative experience for the customer.
Fortunately, it is possible for businesses to securely accept payments directly through social media channels, while delivering a frictionless customer experience with the right tools. Semafone’s Cardprotect Relay+™ allows organizations to quickly and easily generate secure payment links on-demand, which a customer service representative (CSR) can send to customers through social media channels, chat windows, messaging platforms or other digital channels. The customer simply clicks on the link and enters their payment card details into the secure web form that is presented to them. Their payment details and other sensitive information is encrypted and securely routed directly to the payment service provider (PSP). The customer’s sensitive data never touches the organization’s network infrastructure, thereby keeping it out of scope of compliance for PCI DSS.
At the same time, Cardprotect Relay+ relays real-time progress updates to the business or CSR, indicating when the customer has opened the link, when they have begun filling in their card numbers, and when payment has been approved by the payment processor. If the customer has trouble at any point in the process, the CSR can see this and offer help, leading to increased conversion rates, an improved customer experience, and a greatly reduced volume of cart abandonment.
Additionally, Cardprotect Relay+ is infrastructure-agnostic, making it easy to integrate with any social media platform or third-party applications. As a result, businesses can use Cardprotect Relay+ to enable purchases and payments through any and all of the social media platforms they use – without getting locked into a closed payment ecosystem or single payment platform.
There’s no doubt that consumers are migrating more and more to conducting their daily lives on social media. Businesses that can harness the growing power of social media and open up the doors to offering secure, compliant and frictionless purchasing and payments journeys, will reap the rewards of increased sales opportunities and sustained customer satisfaction.