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Friday, Apr. 17, 2009 at 9:45 am

Sorry, I Don’t Give My Credit Card Online

By Bryan Eisenberg
April 17th, 2009

Clients often come to us to fix their shopping cart abandonment issue. We’ve written before about how to decrease shopping cart abandonment before, but I wanted to share another simple and cost effective way to deal with customers who refuse to give their credit card information online.

One suggestion is to make sure your toll-free or 800 number is clearly visible at the top of all pages and even more visible during the checkout process. However, many businesses balk at this because they are concerned with the increased cost associated with taking full orders over the phone. By the time, customers tell you what they want, ask their questions, your representatives take all of their shipping and billing information you have eaten away at several minutes worth of your call-center resources.

However, PetFoodDirect makes it a bit easier. It let’s customers fill out their order online without giving the website credit card information and then offers the option to have their customer service reps call the customer to finalize the order and collect just the credit card information. That is efficient and only takes a couple of minutes of call time!

What else have you tried in order to get more customers to complete their purchases?

Add Your Comments

Comments (53)

  1. Um, so let’s see, it’s more secure to tell someone your credit card number so they can enter it into a system, than it is to enter it into the system yourself?

    Aren’t most stolen credit card infos still from manual slips? Adding a person in seems to make it less secure, not more.

    How would you solve that perception problem, Groksters? Or is it not worth solving?

  2. Rich,

    It is less secure, but you said it best, it is a perception problem. There are many people who feel more secure giving their information over the phone than they do giving it over the “interwebs.”

  3. I don’t think this is a matter of actually being more secure. It’s a way to do what the customer prefers. It’s now how you want to be paid; it’s how the customer wants to buy.

  4. And, of course, being Friday and fried day – I can’t type today. That should be “not” not “now” above. And as long as I’m back…I’ve seen clients lose sales and nonprofit groups lose member participation because of Paypal paranoia. (I don’t know how to use PP! I don’t give my credit card online!) Comes down to: Do you want the sale or do you want the customer to follow your procedure?

  5. As a member of the large group of people who almost eat and sleep on internet, I absolutely trust website better than another person if the website is trustworthy. Otherwise, I prefer dealing with human when I know there is a phone number, and I can ask for a name of the sales person. Couldn’t have agreed more with Mary, it’s all about customers today.

  6. Really great idea. I plan to implement it on my site as well.

  7. Yup, the customer is in control. Sounds like something not worth solving then.

  8. If it makes the customer feel good and it creates revenue for your store, then why not implement it?

    I don’t understand the opposition.

  9. Chris – because it may well not be good ROI depending on how many of these folks are visiting and wanting to order from your site. Would I do this for a 10% sales bump? heck yes! For a 0.5% sales bump? No, not unless my sales were so high that even 0.5% was a substantial amount of money.

    To that point – any numbers on this? I realize the figures will vary by site demographic, but are there really that many people who want to shop online but refuse to enter their credit card info?

  10. Rick,
    Point taken. I would like to see the numbers on this as well.

    In ecommerce’s infancy this might have been a very popular option, you would assume by now that everyone who would go online to shop is comfortable with it.

    I’m implementing it at my store to see what kind of numbers I get.

  11. Thank You!

    It is an absolutely perfect idea. There are days that 80% of our revenue is generated via phone orders because it appears more secure. Some it’s only 10%, but still do I want to give up $500 in profit, no.

    Convenience, security and knowledge are all positives for the buyer and generate more than one sale. Most often they are the repeat customer.

    I love Mary’s take on it: “Do you want the sale or do you want the customer to follow your procedure?”

  12. Gail – 80%? wow. Can you share more info? what market are you in, what’s the typical demographic, etc?

    I’m intrigued by the idea, but even among my middle-aged cohort it’s common for us to simply enter the credit card info on a website.

  13. “but even among my middle-aged cohort it’s common for us to simply enter the credit card info on a website.”

    Rick, and that’s the group that I thought would be more comfortable actually placing a phone call.

  14. Chris, it’s not opposition to putting the phone number up. That’s a great idea and easy. Of course you should do it.

    Credit card security is a larger issue. Credit card fraud is greater offline. People feel more comfortable giving their card numbers online. Isn’t there something strange in that? As online marketers, wouldn’t it benefit us to do something about that?

    Even if everyone felt comfortable giving their credit card numbers online, it still would be a good idea to put up the phone number :-)

  15. Oops, should have said
    “people feel more comfortable giving their numbers offline”

  16. Hey Rick and Chris thanks for the replys.

    Here’s a link so that you can see my one sites demographics: http://www.quantcast.com/delectably-yours.com?userView=Public#demographics

    I’ve tried a regular phone number vs the 800# and it is worth the $29.99 a month. I got mine though evoice receptionist. Can have it forward to various numbers or they leave a message and you can hear online even.

    We are all comfortable buying online because we’re accustomed to it, it’s our business. We know there is more risk handing to a waitress than using our site. But until the general public is educated enough we make our business plan fit they buying plans.

    The majority of people that prefer to call are above 55 with the area of the country making a huge difference. Not everyone has a high speed connection or even a pc. Some just want to know who we are and feel comfortable that it’s not a scam. Lower priced items are not as hard so the’ll test it. My average sale has been fluctuating between $175 and $225.

    Test it, get a trial 800#. Answer the phone 9-5 for a week solid. Next week transfer it to voice message. See how sales go? What can it hurt?

  17. By giving the customer the “choice” to finalize their purchase with a live person completely changes their online buying experience. From cold and isolated.. to.. Hey.. THank you for your order. Do you have any questions… Is there anything more I can asssit your with.. and not matter how great a writer you are.. the autoresponders are not REAL enough, not quick enough, and not listening. At the end of the day… the customers want to know that you care. That you care about their transaction, why they’re getting it, why its special. It may seem insignificant to some..but “shopping is personal” For those still learning to accept online stores and sharing their personal information in this way, through the power of “choice”, over time these same customers will know you like they know the corner hobby shop and will feel more comfortable to shop online. As they evolve.. so will our bottom line.

  18. Right you are Mary and Gail. Online stores unfortunately can leave the customer feeling…cold & alone come checkout time. Click, tap and enter and we don’t get to really know the customer, except when there is an issue. Not the best scenario to build relationships although, how it is handled can earn ourselves a new loyal customer. Unfortunately, it is the nature of online retail: even if the site is filled to the brim with babies and butterflies and lil’ yellow duckies, the “cold & detached” atomosphere at checkout is where we lose our competitive edge that we find with traditional brick & mortars.

  19. Yes Bryan and that approach bonds better with older customers.It also allows a personal upsell.

  20. I’m new to Twitter and the comments above are exactly why I joined. We’re having a heck of a time with ecommerce and need the option of direct contact with the customer. Thanks!

  21. The problem with the scale argument (“I’ll do it for 10% but I won’t for 0.5%”) is that 10% gains typically come from a long series of 0.5% boosts, rather than one big 10% gain. That’s why hiring only home-run sluggers doesn’t produce championship teams.

  22. Don’t forget that by having a phone conversation with a customer, you can survey your client for their needs and also increase the possibility for an upsell.

  23. This is less of a problem now than has been for the past 15 years, but it’s still a problem — and worth addressing in this way, especially for companies that market to older folks.

    I can’t begin to fathom how much money certain retailers have missed out on by not implementing this at the turn of the century, when practically all of the late majority was freaked out by using their credit cards online.

  24. Bryan – great post! Perception is the main issue. We hear this from out phone-order customers (daily) who just feel more comfortable giving their credit card info over the phone. Customers buy based on their needs, not ours.

  25. Everyone’s comments are great and those that oppose or argue small points are missing the big picture. The evolution of Multi-channel is moving toward a customer centric multi-channel ecosystem. The additional benefits of providing this option, as mary points out is a clear indicator for channel channel preference. Tracking behavioral characteristics and then applying that data toward their next experience with your organization will increase the customer lifetime value leading to more purchases, higher referral rates, increased ROI etc. The phone channel does provide the opportunity to up sell and cross-sell as well as track customer satisfaction etc. and augment your current data with other questions. Opening this channel will also lead to refinement of of your current customer personas and possibly lead to an additional persona added to the mix. If this new segment/persona prefers phone transactions in general you could also experience higher ROI from adding programs to that channel based on some simple testing. Anyway I am 100% behind the addition of an 800 number.

  26. Have plenty of food for thought with the suggestions here. PetFoodDirect appears to be a great option for smaller retailers.

    The only issue, especially online is the demographics of buyers. Is it cost effective to offer international 800 service on a $20-$100 sale?

    Guess like everything else in business – test it before doing a full roll out.

  27. Great posts Here. I¡m a business owner in Spain, with most orders coming from the UK. Does anyone in a similar position have a line provider service/company they can recommend.

  28. Incidentally it’s logical to offer people as many ways as possible to pay. We know it should be about what THEY want throughout the sales process; if not then to a degree we’re dictating… not nice!

    Over here you often get a tut and eyeball rolling if you pay cash with a note that’s deemed too large a denomination by the shop attendant or whoever. A staff training issue too here of course, but we owners need to be reminded from time to time that it’s giving the customer what he wants with no BS that maximises retention and recommendation.

  29. Well firstly a credit card isn’t the only option for taking orders online. There’s a whole host of alternatives from paypal, Google Checkout, Bill Me Later, automated bill to my phone methods, direct debits, wire transfers, even sending the orders by fax.And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

    The other issue is: What is the point of having a call centre that doesn’t take orders? Would they rather have call centres where customers didn’t give them money?

    That attitude astounds me.

  30. “What is the point of having a call centre that doesn’t take orders? Would they rather have call centres where customers didn’t give them money?”

    Mark nailed it.

  31. In the Netherlands we have iDeal, works perfect, every bank supports it and most important: customers dare to use it.

  32. Sweet and simple. Every little helps.

  33. Many people just prefer to order over the phone. They feel safer and more secure that their credit card information is protected and that there is a “Real Person” working at the company that they are dealing with.

    Many people are afraid of getting ripped off by companies that are not real.

    Great post and thanks.

  34. I just passed this article onto a client. They’ve been having problems with shopping cart abandonment. This is certainly worth experimenting with.

  35. #

    Really great idea. I plan to implement it on my site as well.

    Thanks!

  36. Good Post, thanks.

    Great posts Here. I¡m a business owner in Spain, with most orders coming from the UK. Does anyone in a similar position have a line provider service/company they can recommend.
    Mee too.

  37. [...] 68. PaymentCentral Offers an automated service that allows customers to complete their online transactions by telephone. I blogged about someone who does something like this, in Sorry, I don’t give my credit card online. [...]

  38. Being very experienced in IT I’m absolutely paranoid about security, mainly because I’ve already seen many times confidencial information ‘written down’ in databases as plain text, i.e: any human can read and print!
    It obviously is fertile field for hackers and this kind of security breach is very common, much more than people can think.

    1. I only shop if the transaction ‘jumps’ to Paypal or some other very very trustworthy payment gateway. If I have to provide my credit card info to John Smith’s website… well… I’m out… does not matter if there’s green padlock, SSL or whatever.

    2. I never shop if I have to provide my credit card’s security code. This is absolutely non-sense! Come on, it’s your own, private security code!… You are not supposed to publish this confidential information or tell it to John Smith over the phone! Your credit card administrator told you to keep this information secure, isn’t it? Was John Smith really his name or was he an hoax? I live in the UK for 3 years now and I’ve never seen such security breach like this.

    In my humble opinion:

    1. winning websites should ‘jump’ to Paypal and/or other very very trustworthy websites. I’m sure that paranoids like me will appreciate and non-paranoids will not bother at all. So, you will be OK.

    2. Never, I repeat: never! ask the security code in your website or over the phone. And more: advertise with bold capitals that you never ask the security code. Your customers will slowly understand that this is a critical piece of information which should never be disclosed; you will develop loyalty among your customers and they will prefer your website instead your competitor’s website.

    Thanks

    Richard Gomes

  39. This is great. Thanks for posting.

  40. Oops, should have said
    “people feel more comfortable giving their numbers offline”

  41. [...] 68. PaymentCentral Offers an automated service that allows customers to complete their online transactions by telephone. I blogged about someone who does something like this, in Sorry, I don’t give my credit card online. [...]

  42. Thank you for sharing this article. really helpful.

  43. A fantastic idea I will implement it on my site

  44. If call centre won’t be ready for this then it would be hard to get the customers information and if he is ready then a great idea to get the information.

  45. That is true, I still don’t like the idea. My credit card has been stolen before and it was online, I just hate giving out my credit card info on the phone or Internet.

    then theres seriously something wrong with your credit card bank, like i said earlier most bank automatically cancel your card if its gets used a lot and then they call you. try the new mastercard.

  46. As I mentioned above, I never ever provide my security code online and I only buy online when my browser is “talking” to Paypal or some other trustworthy payment gateway directly associated to banks.

    I find absolutely ridiculous how things work in the UK: you don’t have ID cards here; your identity is your address plus your date of birth. So… if someone obtains these pieces of information about you and also your credit card number and your security code … what else is necessary to impersonate you and buy things using your credit card?

    Certain problems are much easier to *eliminate* beforehand than *solve* later. Simply never ever provide your security code and you will be … secure!

    When your credit card administrator sent you your shinny credit card, they said that the security code should never be disclosed, isn’t it? They said that your are responsible for it and you should keep it secure, which means that you are responsible for any transactions involving your credit card and involving this tiny piece of security. So, why on Earth people disclose the security code to any website and over the phone?

    Disclosing the security code over the phone sounds absolute stupidity to me.
    Look: it’s very easy to anyone to impersonate anything over the phone. A criminal can phone you and say that he is with your bank and he is phoning in order to blah blah blah. Then they ask you ‘confirmation’ of your personal contact details, like address, date of birth, etc.

    When I want to talk to my bank, I go to the branch I have my account. If someone calls me and states that he/she is with my bank, I say: “OK… in this case, please send me a letter about this. I never ever provide any information over the phone.” If they ask me ‘confirmation’ of my address, I say “Well, you have my address up-to-date in your database; simply send a letter to it and it will reach me.”.

    I live in the UK for 4 years now and I never saw such kind of unsecure environment like here.

    By the way, the “Data Security Act” is meaningless to me. My money in my pocket is all I understand.

    Still…
    The first transaction over the web I’ve done in the UK, they never delivered to my address. I asked them a proof of delivery and they never provided. So, I opened a claim with Paypal (because I paid via Paypal) and I’ve got my money back in the end.

    (Yes. I’m paranoid!)

    So, back to the discussion here, I would never buy anything if I had to contact a call centre or if a call centre would contact me. I simply do not trust anyone. Period.

    I hope my feedback help you guys thinking about providing payment means via internet;

    1. Jump to Paypal or some other very very known *and* trustworthy payment gateway.

    2. Handle properly invoices and the delivery process, keeping track of everything. Do not try to save some bucks if this small saving could end up on a customer who will never buy with you again (and tell their friends to neber buy with you!).

    3. That’s it!

    Thanks

  47. Offers for free credit scores are all over the internet.I think most of the restaurant in Shopping mall should have Credit card service.I guess there’s a big difference between hotels who deal often primarily with international people, and newegg who gets enough business as it is with americans.

  48. I think consumers are familiar and comfortable with Paypal rather than just putting the information on the respective website. The company and it’s website must look and feel solid.

  49. [...] by Nick on August 31, 2011 237 Please Rate Thanks! An error occurred! Offers an automated service that allows customers to complete their online transactions by telephone. I blogged about someone who does something like this, in Sorry, I don’t give my credit card online. [...]

  50. People are greatly inclined these days to use Paypal as they offer insurance should anything go wrong with the transaction

  51. As a member of the large group of people who almost eat and sleep on internet, I absolutely trust website better than another person if the website is trustworthy.

  52. It is less secure, but you said it best, it is a perception problem. There are many people who feel more secure giving their information over the phone than they do giving it over the “interwebs.”

  53. So, I opened a claim with Paypal (because I paid via Paypal) and I’ve got my money back in the end.

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Bryan Eisenberg, founder of FutureNow, is a professional marketing speaker and the co-author of New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestselling books Call to Action and Waiting For Your Cat to Bark and Always Be Testing. You can friend him on Facebook or Twitter.

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