The Long and Short. (Mostly Short.)
Let me set the scene. This past weekend I was the first customer at a local deli. I ordered my food, wrangled my toddler and headed toward the checkout. I walked up to a dark screen on the customer facing Point of Sale system. After seeing I looked confused, the teenaged employee asked me to insert my card into the reader. I did but nothing happened so I asked if the screen should be off. After some fumbling and attempts to turn it on they discovered that it was not properly connecting to the main terminal and they couldn’t accept payments until it was.
At this same time a large pick up catering order arrived. They were forced to take his phone number to call for payment later so he could get off to his gathering. I don’t doubt he ended up paying for the order over the phone but it never feels good to send product out the door without payment in return.
Eventually, after 10 minutes of attempts to get it online, they wrote down my credit card number and sent me on my way.
Back it Up
A simple, and cheap, way to avoid this would be to always have a secondary payment method available. If you use Clover, have Square on standby. If you use Shopify POS, have PayPal Here on standby.
There are so many pay-as-you-go digital payment solutions you can be assured of zero downtime so your customers can keep paying you. It may create extra work for accounting but you can add 15 minutes to your end of day instead of frustrating customers.
If I Were Working the Register
If it were my business I would have comped the sandwiches. I was the first customer in line as they discovered the problem, so they couldn’t have warned me before I ordered. Sending my on my way with free food would have kept me moving and made me thrilled that I received a deal (and I would be telling that story with the business name, instead of being all secretive.)
I would guess the employees who were working at the deli did not have the power to make that kind of call. Someone should always be available to make choices that will cost the business a little bit of money, but keep customers coming back.
And if you work in retail, back up your payment method with a pay-as-you-go service.
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