Golden opportunities in the EMV rollout

 In Customer Experience

EMV, is anyone tired of hearing about it? Perhaps we just haven’t heard what consumers need to know.

You can’t attend a financial industry conference or read any banking publication these days without some mention of EMV. While the conversation might be getting tiresome, there are some important aspects of the shift that seem to be getting lost in the clamor of who is and who isn’t compliant. Less emphasis is being placed on consumer education and the tremendous marketing opportunities available.

My first experience using the new technology—or more accurately, the decades’ old technology recently adopted by the United States —was with my corporate card. I swiped my card (which also has a magnetic stripe) while on a business trip and it did not go through. The clerk asked me if it was a chip card and had me insert it into the reader instead. My card was approved on the second try and the receipt noted that my purchase was made with an integrated chip card.

In this case, the process worked just as it should. The retailer had the appropriate EMV technology in place, the card was rejected when use of the less secure mag stripe was attempted, and the store clerk knew how to recognize a chip-enabled card and guide customers through how to complete the transaction.

The missing element was that I didn’t realize I had even been issued a chip card, plus swiping my card was much faster than waiting for the chip reader.

I recently overheard a conversation between two twenty-something customers who were being told how to use a chip card as they were checking out at a grocery store. One of the girls proclaimed, “We should just start using cash. Even that is faster than these new cards!” This is coming from the generation that wants to use their mobile devices to do everything.

So what is the industry to do? We have forged ahead with EMV, so why not make the most of it by providing information to help customers navigate and understand the new process.

After my trip, I checked the paperwork that came with my corporate EMV card and noticed it contained one sentence stating my card was equipped with chip and signature technology that adds an additional level of security when used at chip-enabled terminal. That’s it. Since I didn’t even notice it, clearly there was a gap in the delivery of important information. Banks are missing a huge marketing opportunity to share how they are protecting their most valuable asset: customers.

This effort could start by sending out an advance notice explaining why a new card is being issued, instructions detailing how to use it, and an explanation of what makes chip cards more secure. Some banks are already doing this, but it is being overlooked because the information isn’t descriptive enough or drawing the attention of its customers.

Because bank correspondence is often dry and impersonal, why not make it creative and fun? Tell a story or create a cartoon depiction of fraudsters getting thwarted by EMV. The sky is the limit; don’t miss the opportunity to stand out and have your message heard. Target the message to match the bank’s brand and customer segments. For example some customers might relate to pop culture depictions in a video message sent via text, whereas other customers might actually like to receive a phone call (not a telemarketer, but a true customer service call from a real person).

The educational component should also explain that EMV isn’t going to end fraud and contain information about what consumers can do to further protect themselves (i.e. sign up for card alerts, check statements regularly for unauthorized charges, report stolen cards immediately, etc.). Let’s fight the good fight together messaging.

It’s also worthwhile to address the speed of transactions. Chip and signature does take longer, but if retailers and customers are appropriately trained this shouldn’t remain a noticeable issue over time. Explain that there are going to be hiccups in the rollout, set the expectation so it isn’t surprising. I would venture to guess that most consumers value the security of their money over a few extra seconds in a card reader.

There are golden opportunities to reach out to your customers and provide accurate, helpful information while dispelling myths such as consumers thinking they will be responsible for fraud charges if they don’t have a chip card. Don’t miss the chance to provide a great customer experience.

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