I remember the first time I got a credit card. I must say it wasn’t the nice and helpful banking system that offered it to me, but my dear mother, who gave me an extension of her own card. She said it was “for emergencies”. When I asked her about the credit limit, I started working out how much pocket money (my “salary” at the time) I needed to save in order to pay (I was young and poor… Now, I’m not young, but I’m still poor, though honorable.) After reaching the conclusion that, due to my working conditions and my economic status, I was NEVER going to be able to pay a card debt, I accepted it, but left it inside a drawer, where it never saw the light of day (well, not really, it came out for an emergency and paid for a McDonald’s combo meal #7.)
Now, as many others, I do have a salary. The bank gives you a debit card and, as a bonus, it also offers you a credit card (even though you may not want it, the bank insists and, sooner or later, you get it.) To be honest, I don’t really like having a credit card, but I must admit it’s quite useful: I use it to get plane tickets (I don’t live in the country where I was born), tickets to go to concerts or the theater, or even food. I also linked my card to the services that any millennial needs to survive: Netflix and Spotify.
In Times of Credit Cards
Nowadays, there are more places that don’t accept cash, but just credit cards, than vice versa. For example, there are certain services, such as Internet for your household, which you just can’t pay any other way. But every time I get asked for my credit card number, I get shaky legs. I get scared, scared of getting my identity stolen and being burdened with a debt that will force me to have children, so that they can help me pay it.
Some days ago, I tried to change my Internet provider. So, I entered the webpage of the new company and I typed my personal details and my phone number (since they were going to call me). Something like 40 minutes later, the so-called “sales representative” that called me asked for my credit card number, my name, the expiration date and the three numbers on the back. OVER THE PHONE! And, suddenly, I was paralyzed with fear: How’s it possible that I have to give my personal details to a stranger in this day and age? I spent all day searching for strange movements in my credit card balance. After this experience, I recalled that, many times, I’d been asked for my credit card in different shops, and they’d even taken it quite far from its home (my penniless, empty pocket), which made me feel uncertain about the safety of my card.
Even though many of these processes have worked that way since credit cards appeared on the market and most people didn’t own one (except so-and-so’s father), in this day and age, companies that provide services in exchange for payment via plastic (and banks, that get hold of your soul and decency for eternity) need to assure paranoid users on the verge of a nervous breakdown (like this humble servant) that their card is secure. That can only be achieved with a process that requires no human intervention and is also user-friendly. And I’m not just talking about the Internet provider, but any other online purchase system. The majority of the processes are created based on the convenience of their implementation and not on what the user intuitively needs.
Other cases that create anxiety are web pages where you can get concert tickets. What happens is that, sometimes, for some strange reason, the webpage just doesn’t seem to work, but it doesn’t show you an error message. At this point, you ask yourself many questions: Is it possible that I made the purchase but I didn’t get any confirmation? Or it didn’t go through? Or maybe I’m getting charged two or three times? That’s why, many times, I’d rather go buy the ticket straight at the physical point, instead of using a webpage that, in the past, threw me an error message or didn’t inspire much trust.
How to Build User Trust?
All of the experiences I mentioned above don’t help anyone. Neither me nor the service provider. Having a credit card is like a superpower: a superpower that can leave you homeless, so it comes with a big responsibility for the user. So, here are some key takeaways:
- When a new client wants to use our services, we must inspire trust and convenience; user experience is key.
- We mustn’t allow any employee to have access to credit card details, no matter how much we trust them. This process should be automated, so much so that the employee doesn’t even have to see this information.
- Transparency is essential when a user gets charged for a service, i.e., we must allow for a clear process follow-up, so that they know which stage they’re at and how their purchase is advancing.
- Giving our clients the chance to pay with their credit cards should be an advantage, not an ordeal. We aim at simplifying processes, not at riding the wave of charging with credit cards just because our competitors are doing so.
In order to build up trust and achieve transparency, we need mature infrastructure and code. What I mean is that we need to be able to follow the process through and come up with evidence; at the same time, we should get all the necessary traffic without having any issues. In addition, it’s also important to have as few manual processes as possible, so that user information isn’t in danger.
One key step to fulfill these objectives would be to implement a culture of DevOps and User Experience, leveraging the power of many existing tools (such as cloud infrastructure) and an ongoing revision of user processes.