Mastering the Art of Delivering Customer Experience Excellence

27 / 02 / 2024

At our recent ‘Mastering the Art of Payments Excellence’ workshop, held in London, we heard from large enterprise merchants about the importance of providing excellent customer experience (CX) at the point of payments acceptance.

7 min.

A man paying at a coffee shop counter.

When a customer purchases a product or service, the lasting impression of the merchant is heavily influenced by the quality of the payment experience received, as this tends to be the last touchpoint, and so is critical in determining satisfaction levels and the likelihood of return. With retailers facing extremely high levels of competition, and price sensitivity thanks to the cost of living crisis, it has become even more critical to deliver CX excellence.

Merchants understand that consumers expect easy-to-use payment acceptance systems, fast transaction times, minimal friction and the secure protection of personal information and payment credentials. One of the reasons why CX needs to be given a high priority is due to heightened customer expectations.

Heightened customer expectations

Customers have far greater power than ever before and change their behaviour if not completely satisfied with the quality of the experience received, abandoning baskets, and quickly finding alternative providers. For a hotelier, it is not the quality of the room or the comfort of the bed, but rather the length of the checkout queue that determines experience levels. For a fashion retailer, excellent CX can be provided if when a preferred size of garment is not available in-store, then a seamless transition is made to an online order with next-day delivery. Quick service restaurants recognise that if self-service order kiosks are implemented well then wait times can be reduced making customers happier, whilst simultaneously bringing operational efficiencies. All retailers realise that a poor CX is no longer tolerated by customers and that they turn to trusted brands.


Customer preferences vary considerably based on factors such as age, demographics, and location. We heard from leading retailers how the greater use of hyper-personalisation allows tailoring the payment journey appropriately and highlights its significant impact.

Having a clear understanding of your customer personas will help determine which type of acceptance point customers prefer. Some will prefer the speed of self-checkout when rushing to purchase (like a lunchtime sandwich), whilst others will prefer the full-service till. One grocery retailer even referred to offering a ‘chatty lane’ for those who wanted social interaction as part of their shopping experience.

In a future blog, we will cover the many choices now available on ‘Ways a Customer can Pay’ but in the context of CX, the key point is to apply hyper-personalisation to offer the payment options appropriate to the customer and purchase.

Today, consumers are increasingly shopping across multiple sales channels and even doing so within a single transaction, such as with ‘Buy Online Pick-up In-Store’ (BOPIS). As a result, unified commerce platforms are required to ensure consistency in payment methods, and accessibility from every channel, and provide a single view of all customer activity.

Payments have become a mission-critical business service for merchants and the expectation is that they will always work, first time and 24x7x365.

How to improve customers' experience?

Contactless card adoption has delivered the greatest improvement to the in-store consumer payment experience. It has reduced transaction times, the length of queues and dramatically changed consumer behaviour. But attention to detail, such as clearer indications of where to tap the card, or when PIN entry is needed, can elevate a good experience to a great one. Now an increasing number of customers are using Apple Pay and Google Pay in face-to-face environments recognising the added convenience it offers and higher contactless spending limits.

We heard many ways on how to improve the online payments experience including: support of wallets at digital channels; the secure storage of card credentials on file to simplify repeat purchases and subscription services; the introduction of network tokens to boost authorisation rates and the real-time validation of data fields on checkout pages. ‘Click to Pay’ is another approach being promoted by the card networks to improve the CX.

Retailers seen to be delivering a best-in-class CX are those that have adopted a mobile-first strategy, ensuring a clear user experience (UX), that optimises device display capabilities and minimises the number of clicks that must be completed. We recognise further scope for improvement in areas such as page layout, simplification, the amount of data being requested, the choice of imagery and the provision of contextual help. Amazon was held out as a great example.

Removing friction

Reducing the amount of friction within a payment transaction was seen by merchants to be a major priority explaining that inappropriate friction has a dramatic impact on customer experience ratings. One way we feel that friction can be reduced is by maximising the use of Strong Customer Authentication (SCA) exemptions, especially Transaction Risk Analysis and Low Value.

The Embedding of Payments, within more types of business Apps, is leading to a higher proportion of frictionless transactions. Seamless and Embedded payments are key market trends and major contributors to improving CX. Uber remains the poster child for how a purchase can be made without there appearing to be any payment step happening.

One of the areas that is leading to increased levels of friction is Buy Now Pay Later (BNPL) transactions. It appears that there is scope for improvement in how these new payment options have been introduced from a usability and customer experience perspective.

“Never before has it been so important to focus on delivering an excellent Customer Experience. This can be achieved by removing friction, introducing hyper-personalisation, and creating a single view of all customer activity” Mark McMurtrie, Independent Payments Consultant.

The move to “checking-in”

Increasingly customers understand the advantages of creating an account with a merchant, and in return for sharing information, how this can improve the payments experience. This is particularly relevant when shopping Online or through an App.

Checking-in allows the merchant to know more about the customer and can therefore tailor appropriate options based on their prior shopping behaviour, purchases, and preferences.

An in-store purchase transitioning from a classic “checkout” model to a “check-in” journey offers numerous advantages. The introduction of new unified commerce platforms will create more opportunities for this transition to happen. Additionally, some grocery retailers are trialling ‘just walk out’ technology which works by identifying the customer as they enter a store, using cameras and sensors to monitor products selected and then seamlessly automatically processing payment when they exit the store without any payment point being required.

Handling exceptions well

Merchants understand the importance of handling exceptions efficiently and without inconveniencing the customer. A common example is the ability to process a refund efficiently anywhere in-store, for example for a purchase made by PayPal, avoiding the need to direct a customer to an inconvenient customer service desk.

Faster return of funds is seen to be a hot topic, as this allows the customer to make a replacement purchase immediately and appears to be a particular reason for customer dissatisfaction. Some retailers are considering sending refunds into a closed-loop customer account, rather than back onto to the card, allowing instant reuse.

Customer engagement

If customer engagement during a transaction can be improved, then this tends to result in higher satisfaction levels. There are a variety of best practices available such as instant rewards and loyalty program offers, personalised electronic coupons, and gamification to add a sense of fun to the transactional experience. Many of these techniques involve the integration of customer engagement and loyalty apps with payment systems, accessing consolidated customer data in real-time, and maximising the use of today’s high-speed communication links and the latest larger, colour, multimedia displays that are built into acceptance devices.

Other ways to improve the customer experience, and generate a feeling of positivity, is to offer digital charity donations at the acceptance point through organisations like ‘Pennies’ who we have worked with for many years. 


Merchants who focus on CX excellence reap the reward of customer loyalty and its positive impact to top and bottom-line financials. Optimising authorisation rates is a critical component of improving the CX. Customer expectations are far higher than they used to be and we know from personal experience how we favour trusted brands that deliver a great experience and avoid ones where we have been let down. The growing importance that customers place on Reviews, Net Promoter Scores, and personal recommendations provides additional reasons to focus on CX.

This blog has highlighted some of the many ways that the CX can be improved. These include the need to reduce friction in the payment journey, offering hyper-personalisation, consistency in payment method across sales channels, having a single view of the customer activity, and engaging customers during the purchasing. Investment in new payment technologies and acceptance systems will lead to a significant improvement in customer satisfaction levels.

There is no single ‘silver bullet’ to be applied, but rather a combination of multiple initiatives, some of which may appear small, but when combined make a big difference.

We welcome the opportunity to discuss with you how our comprehensive suite of merchant service solutions can deliver improvements for your customers. Please do get in touch and contact us here.

Lee Jones

CEO of Worldline Merchant Services UK Ltd.
Lee is the Chief Executive Officer for Worldline Merchant Services UK Limited and, alongside his team, has an unparalleled track record of helping organisations deliver a reliable, secure and fuss-free checkout experience. Having held a variety of leadership roles with market leading technology companies over a 20-year period, Lee is passionate about driving solutions that deliver real value to his customers. Leading Worldline into new markets, where the introduction of cashless payments is just starting to emerge, while supporting existing customers in their ambition to meet and exceed shopper expectations, is something which highly interests Lee. Lee is proud of the trust customers have placed in Worldline and his team. Being able to help organisations reduce the cost, complexity and burden of PCI while assuring their revenues and enabling them to increase their customer satisfaction scores is at the heart of Worldline’s strategy.