Lane Conner is founder and CEO of Fuzse, a Dallas-based financial technology organization specializing in e-commerce solutions for mobile app, custom software, and web development providers. Founded in October 2016, Fuzse tapped First American as a preferred payment gateway and payment technology provider. The below article highlights Conner’s experience with First American, and what growth-stage ISOs should prioritize before choosing a payments provider.
Q. What makes service the top priority when your ISO is in its early launch stage?
Conner: “It’s hard to differentiate in our industry because payments is so commoditized. Add in the fact that much of the time, business is conducted over the phone. Service is that one point of differentiation; it’s critical for start-up ISOs because whether you are funded or not, money is at a premium – and the one thing that can cement your start-up or spell your doom faster than anything is the quality of your product. If the service isn’t there, it’s game over. A major reason I chose First American is because I knew they had a reputation in the industry for delivering exemplary customer service, not only for my merchants but also for me.”
Q. What does ‘exemplary customer service’ look like on the merchant side?
Conner: “When my merchants call in, they are helped – period. No long wait times, no ‘let me get back to you,’ remarks. These are small business owners; they are very busy and sitting on hold doesn’t work for them, especially those who are retailers or restaurant owners and are trying to run cards. First American gets that and takes excellent care of my merchants without issue or excuse.”
Q. What about on the ISO side? What does growth-generating service entail – in terms of what an ISO should expect from its payment provider?
Conner: “For me, the support I receive – especially at times when I am trying to tackle a complex out of the box payment process that is not part of your typical retail or restaurant processing scenario – that’s a game changer. And those challenges are almost daily! Since Fuzse really keeps its focus on the ISV space, we are regularly dealing with pretty specific demands for the payment technology needed to serve our software clients.”
He continued, “I’ve never had an instance where I’ve taken an “ask” to First American and been told, ‘We can’t do that.’ They always find a way to help – and if they don’t have a solution, they connect me with someone who does. When you’re trying to establish your book of business, having a payments provider in your corner who enables, rather than inhibits, new customer acquisition is absolutely invaluable.”
Conner added that in this regard, timeliness and transparency are everything.
“First American has always been extremely honest about what they can and cannot do. I appreciate that because I have been burned before by bait and switch promises, when someone tells me they can do something and then six weeks later I find out they can’t follow through. When you partner with First American, you can rest assured they will do what they say they will do.”
Q. Service is of paramount importance to you. In addition to taking care of merchants and demonstrating a willingness to tailor solutions, what other perspectives on service should an ISO consider before choosing a payments provider?
Conner: “Getting down to brass tacks, you should make sure you have a clear sense of the size and structure of the payment provider’s entire support team. This is an area many ISOs mistakenly overlook, even though it’s one of the most important components of a fruitful ISO-processor partnership. For this business relationship to be successful, you need to ensure that the processor’s operational structure is a fit for your ISO. Make sure you know how applications are handled, how credit or underwriting questions are handled, and most importantly, to what extent, if any, you can directly work with those teams.”
Conner adds that it’s also vitally important for ISOs to have confidence in the processor’s PCI and Compliance teams.
“Boarding merchants is mission critical, but it does not stop there. I regularly deal with ISVs whose livelihoods are directly impacted by changing PCI regulations. One of the biggest value-adds we can provide these partners is to take that burden off of them, giving them access to First American’s service teams who focus exclusively on compliance. That extends to include card issuer regulations. You want access to the teams and individuals who can advise you, your partners and your merchants upfront as regulatory questions arise – and they will. If your payments provider isn’t equipped to support your ISO with this level of knowledge and consultation, who will that responsibility fall upon? It can put not only your partners, but your entire business, at unnecessary risk.”
Q. How can a payments provider add value to an ISO through the products and services they sell?
Conner: “This is the consultative aspect of service, and it’s a biggie. Payment providers worth their salt are those that monitor the market disruption, take a long-term view and create products and services to address opportunities and fill gaps. They are able to read through the noise and work with their ISO partners to build an effective go-to market strategy.”
Conner added that the ability to customize payment solutions, and to do so quickly, is a major value add that ISOs should insist upon.
“The best payment providers have built their businesses with a large enough infrastructure and a nimble enough team to deliver customized solutions at scale. That’s one of the things First American does best. They have a powerful payments gateway, easy to use APIs, and the fundamental technology stack you would expect. But beyond that, this is a company that brings unmatched flexibility in their backend processes. So much so, that they can fit out of the box needs as my partners bring those forward. This is the kind of service and support that not only wins deals, but also keeps my partners with me. It’s an uncommon approach, unlike what I’ve experienced with a lot of other groups you do business with where the attitude is more or less, ‘This is how we do it. Take it or leave it.’”
Conner’s best tip for helping ISOs evaluate a potential payment provider? Make the time to see and experience it all yourself.
“If you can visit the payment provider’s operation, tour the facility, meet the teams, and experience how the company runs firsthand, there is no better litmus test. I know it already, but it’s really phenomenal to bring a potential partner of mine to First American – an ISV trying to evaluate the legitimacy of this back-end processor they are considering – to have them come away calling me the very next day to say, ‘I’m still blown away by everything I saw. How quickly can we get started?”
To learn more about how First American can help you grow your ISO business, contact us today!