‘Legacy’ Is a Four-Letter-Word

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Antiquated payment technology costs you time and money. If your payments provider is not proactively talking to you about new intelligent technology enhancements or the significant time and resources their company invests on their payment platform, you should take note and ask yourself why.

By Larry Richmond

In today’s digital economy it’s essential your company is properly positioned to optimize technology. Real dollars are at stake with regard to processing and operational expenses. By now we all understand the power of technology and the importance of implementing it to enhance efficiencies and deliver a pleasant customer experience.

Many heating fuel dealers, from small local operators to the largest multi-state providers, are utilizing either dated payments technology and/or legacy platforms that limit functionality and bottom-line efficiency. Our digital economy requires payment professionals to be well-versed as technologists with a deep understanding of how payments and technology intersect across multiple platforms and products.

Dated technology can be very restrictive. Your back office software can limit your company’s ability to align with vendors of your choice. There is no benefit to limiting your choices. There are many products and services that are good for your business. You should be able to pick and choose.

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In addition, freedom of choice helps markets and industries develop and embrace new technologies. It spurs innovation.

Demand “free agency” and portability from vendors. It enables you to pivot when necessary and align with a different product or platform.

It’s unlikely that anyone selling payment services is going to freely admit or advertise that their available solution or platform is built on out-dated technology, much less use the word “legacy” to describe the nuts and bolts that actually run the transactions. If they are not talking about their new financial technology, that’s a problem for you.

Think about the ways financial technology–“FinTech”– has propelled your business, and how much more it can do for you. You want to employ best-in-class financial technology as it saves you time and money.

It also puts you in a position to build customer loyalty. Consider making it a company policy that all vendor relationships begin with free agency. You’ve earned the right to call the shots and determine what is best for your company.

What’s more, savvy business operators understand that connecting with customers is essential to forging customer loyalty. How do you connect with customers when you have limited facetime with them? Through technology, of course.

Imagine this: You’ve just finished filling a customer’s tank. They want to pay you, you want to get paid, and you both want this accomplished in a fast, convenient manner. Given our smartphones are always close at hand, what is more convenient than text – aka “SMS”?   SMS stands for Short Message Service and is the way to send text-only messages of up to 160 characters between phones.

Today’s emerging technologies offer fully integrated solutions that allow your customers to pay for their oil or propane (or plan for future payments) via text. As their heating fuel provider, you’re able to offer a convenient way for them to settle their account and engage with you in an efficient and comfortable fashion while controlling cash flow and reducing the receivables outstanding.

Suddenly, you’re not just providing a service and getting paid, you’re building trust and loyalty, which increases both retention and the likelihood of referrals.

Larry Richmond, a specialist in cash flow automation, is president of Richmond Financial Services. He can be reached at 617-843-5700 ext. 200 and at larry@richmondfs.com.

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