Voice of the Industry

Better customer experiences start with better merchant experiences

Thursday 4 March 2021 08:23 CET | Editor: Simona Negru | Voice of the industry

Lee Tango, Director, Unified Commerce Solutions at Cybersource, argues that the starting point for a better customer experience is a better merchant experience 

We are all familiar with the image of the swan floating gracefully down the river, while below the surface its legs are paddling like mad. If that swan represents the flawless customer experience that merchants strive to deliver, then the madly paddling legs reflect the hard work by merchants, acquirers, issuers, and technology partners to make it happen. 

Delivering that flawless experience is even more challenging, considering that the digital journeys many merchants and their customers were already on have been accelerated by the global pandemic. I have seen, for example, contactless payment limits raised; merchants delivering in-app self-scanning solutions in stores, and rapid adoption of kerbside pickup, as well as other socially distanced delivery and collection options. These and many other solutions have been rolled out rapidly to help meet consumers’ needs and expectations.

Getting it right can be hard – but there is a way forward 

Why have some merchants found it easier than others to deliver the seamless digital experiences today’s consumers demand? Myriad factors come into play. Among them having access to the right internal teams, working with the right partners, and businesses thinking strategically about how they plan to grow with their customers. And of course, the technology investments merchants have made. 

These and other factors come together to define ‘the merchant experience’. Getting this right is the crucial stepping stone to getting the customer experience right. But it’s not always straightforward. 

Take technology, for example. A merchant that was historically a brick-and-mortar business may have acted quickly to implement a platform to enable online ordering. But that may mean that the systems and processes supporting in-store shopping are logically segregated from those supporting the online business. At some point down the line, the technical debt that has been introduced to cope with the current situation will have to be repaid. 

What is more, those siloed systems and processes almost inevitably lead to siloed data. This can hamper the merchant’s ability to recognise customers across channels and makes it harder to deliver the unified experience consumers expect. 

Tokenization can be invaluable here as it allows merchants to use secure data elements (or ‘tokens’) to link and analyse data across different sales channels – in order to gain a single, 360-degree view of each customer. This improves the merchant experience as it provides the insight needed to deliver the desired customer experience, it can remove silos, and it helps drive customer spend and loyalty. Here at Cybersource, we have made sure our token management service is compatible with other platforms as well as our own, so that merchants can take a modular approach if desired. 

Utilita gets it right 

Our customer, energy provider Utilita, understands the extent to which the merchant experience influences the customer experience. 

Utilita serves a customer demographic that typically has tightly managed budgets and has seen its online business grow rapidly in the last few years. Its customers depend on always having an up-to-date view of their balance and being able to top it up at any time. 

In working with Cybersource, Utilita now has the real-time visibility of transactions that it wanted and a platform that handles peak volumes – enabling its customers to complete top-ups as needed and offering credit customers the ability to pay their bills seamlessly. 

Behind the scenes, Utilita is also helping to protect sensitive payment data from compromise with Cybersource’s tokenization and secure hosted payments services. 

The result? Utilita has gained the control, flexibility, and visibility it needed to deliver the best experience – ultimately helping its customers to stay on top of their expenditure and fuel availability with greater confidence. 


The recent acceleration in digital commerce has highlighted the disconnect that still exists between the consumer and the merchant experiences. Siloed systems and data bring friction in the backend, making it harder to deliver on the seamless purchasing that consumers demand – even more so in the current environment. 

At Cybersource, we put as much emphasis on the merchant experience as we do on the consumer experience – bringing visibility and insight into the consumers’ buying behaviour across multiple channels, plus expert help and best practices, so that our customers can ultimately meet their goals and deliver tailored, more flexible digital commerce experiences. 

To learn more about how Utilita improved customer experience by addressing their own, visit our website.

This editorial was first published in our Cross-Border Payments and Ecommerce Report 2020–2021, which assesses the change of pace that occurred in 2020 and provides a comprehensive overview of the major trends driving growth in this space, being the ultimate source of information for players interested in selling across borders.

About Lee Tango

Lee is an experienced payments and fintech practitioner with an extensive knowledge, built up across 20 years in the industry. He works with global retailers, hospitality providers, and transit operators to help them understand how they can achieve and excel in their digital transformation aspirations. Lee has an intrinsic working knowledge of payments within enterprise organisations and the tough challenges merchants face when attempting to reinvent themselves. 

About Cybersource

Cybersource helped kick start the ecommerce revolution in 1994 and haven’t looked back since. Through global reach, modern capabilities, and commerce insights, we create flexible, creative commerce solutions for everyday life experiences that delight customers and spur growth globally. All through the ease and simplicity of one digital platform to manage all payment types, fraud strategies, and more. Knowing we are part of Visa and their security-obsessed standards, you can trust that business is well taken care of – wherever it may go. 

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Keywords: Lee Tango, merchants, customer experience, online payments, Cybersource
Categories: Payments & Commerce | Online Payments
Countries: World
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Payments & Commerce

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