June 1, 2016

3 ways to avoid customer frustration during the EMV migration

dip your chip card

While other countries have fully migrated to EMV technology, the United States is still working on the EMV migration.  Unfortunately, this is causing some frustration during checkout – both for customers and employees.

When the EMV card is dipped into the machine, data goes between the card and the financial institution, creating the unique transaction code. This dynamic data is what protects against fraud, but it also takes a bit more time to process than the traditional swipe. Since consumers are used to the quick swipe of the magnetic strip, the extra time can seem like an unnecessary pain. 

Another factor in customer frustration is not knowing if they should swipe or dip because the experience changes from retailer to retailer.  According to a survey done earlier this year by The Strawhecker Group, only 37 percent of retailers were EMV-ready in January 2016 and 50 percent will be by June. In many cases, the hardware is able to accept a chip card, but the retailer doesn’t have the necessary software integrated or they are waiting in the long queue for certification.   This makes it difficult for a customer to discern which action to take by looking at the POS device.

While a full migration to EMV is on the horizon, the transition period will continue to cause pain at the checkout. But, there are some proactive steps retailers can take to make the migration smoother for their customers and employees. 

The key is in training your front-line associates, making sure they have the tools to inform and guide customers.   Here are a few simple suggestions your employees can put into practice to avoid frustration at the checkout.

  1. Prepare customers as soon as the credit card comes out. Regardless of whether you will require a swipe or a dip, set expectations early. Below are simple statements for each scenario:

    • In the case of a retailer not yet accepting chip cards, “We are not accepting chip cards yet, so please swipe your credit card,” will do the trick.

    • For an EMV-ready retailer, “We are now accepting chip cards, so if you have a chip on your card, you will need to insert it into the chip card reader,” prepares the customer for the required dip.

  2. Guide the customer on how to actually dip their chip card if you are EMV-ready. Since many customers aren’t in the habit of dipping their chip cards, clear and brief instructions can make a difference in the overall experience. I have seen countless customers try to remove their card too early, which further delays the transaction, frustrating both the customer and the employee. Some retailers have customer-facing signage to reinforce the actions required to complete the transaction. 

  3. Sell the value of payment security to your customers. Depending on the store and terminal, the time it takes to complete the transaction with the EMV card can be rather lengthy. Explaining that dipping in place of swiping improves payment security will justify the extra time spent. With recent increases in security breaches, most customers would appreciate this. This tactic not only fills the dead air, but also gives the opportunity to demonstrate the value your organization places on keeping customers’ data secure.

As more and more retailers begin to accept chip cards, swiping will become a thing of the past. But until customers become fully trained, the retailers that make the transition as smooth as possible will create a better customer experience. In the age of the customer, a single transaction can be the difference between customer delight and customer rage.


Image: iStock