Merchant services management is transforming into a digital-first environment. Merchants expect their partners to offer personalized, consultative services that are always up-to-date with their changing needs. In this rapidly evolving landscape, efficiency and accuracy are table stakes.
Unfortunately, meeting customer demands can be daunting, particularly when working with disjointed systems and time-consuming manual processes. Instead of relying on outdated workflows, payments providers must have the tools to:
- Access real-time data
- Analyze shifting behavioral patterns
- Use merchant data to provide highly personalized care
Otherwise, merchants will look elsewhere for their processing needs.
IRIS CRM solves these merchant management issues by offering a single, integrated solution that streamlines the entire merchant services life cycle. In episode eight of our Payments Playbook Podcast, our host, Greg Myers, joined Jaron Ruckman, Product Manager for IRIS CRM (an NMI Company), for an insightful conversation about how this revolutionary product is reshaping the industry.
We’ve highlighted a portion of their conversation below. Listen to their full discussion here.
Greg Myers: As listeners might know, IRIS CRM is a complete merchant services management solution acquired by NMI in January 2022. We will be talking about a couple of things related to the functionality and value of having a solution like IRIS CRM. But before we get too deep, why don’t you give us a high-level overview of what IRIS CRM does?
Jaron Ruckman: Our primary clients are ISOs (independent sales organizations). However, we have banks and ISVs (independent software vendors) that get great benefits by using IRIS CRM.
IRIS CRM’s main functions are sales, boarding, merchant reporting, support and residuals. In those areas, we have integrations with top processors. Naturally, we’ve got excellent connections to our parent company, NMI, so clients can easily board gateway accounts with a few clicks.
Just around the corner, we’re also adding a boarding feature called Turbo App, which allows you to get your merchant account and gateway account in one process.
Myers: What makes IRIS CRM unique in the marketplace?
Ruckman: We’ve got dedicated sales, support and implementation teams that work with our clients and form close relationships. Anybody who has signed up for a big product online knows that when you “self-sign up,” you also “self-support.” Maybe your plan has a support component, but you’re pretty distant from those people.
At IRIS CRM, we’ve got support teams you can call, email and even use live chat to contact. They’re all U.S.-based. We have regular operating hours and are also available throughout the year at industry events.
Additionally, most other CRM (customer relationship management) tools don’t focus as much on the merchant industry. Meanwhile, we look at it as “This is what we know, this is what we serve and this is where we’re the best choice.”
Myers: Can you talk about some of the challenges ISOs and other payments companies face without this kind of end-to-end complete solution?
Ruckman: When an ISO doesn’t have a complete support tool to sell and service their accounts, they’re often left scraping tools together and using different systems. Or, they might be hacking something to fit their needs.
One example of this is residual calculations. Customers give us Excel spreadsheets they’ve created with calculations and macros. Although a lot is happening there, there’s also a lot that can go wrong. For instance, these advanced calculations could result in a bad calculation regarding how much revenue they received or how much they should pay out.
With IRIS CRM, we set up each merchant account you’re boarding and tie a specific user — an agent, referral partner or sub-ISO — to it. Then, you set the split percentages. You also decide if there are any advanced calculations you need to run. That way, when a residual file comes in, you’ve got the calculations ready to go and don’t have to worry if a spreadsheet was updated or if some kind of error was made.
Myers: Let’s peel the onion back and go deeper. You mentioned functionality around customer support and residual management. Now, let’s talk about sales. How does IRIS CRM help a sales team?
Ruckman: Well, the benefits of IRIS CRM come down to organization and visibility in sales. When you allow a team to enter all their information about a lead or a prospect, you can give visibility to the rest of their team and provide access to reports in an elegant way. Plus, managers and executives have more insight into their sales pipeline.
We give insights on things like how many leads have emailed you back in the last week and how many were approved in the last month. Those kinds of things can help navigate the sales pipeline.
Myers: When someone’s working with leads within IRIS CRM, I assume that they continue to live in your system throughout the lifecycle?
Ruckman: That’s right. We decided long ago that the lead would never actually disappear once you established a merchant account. That’s because that lead has so much history, documentation and field edits.
For instance, you might record their tax ID or bank account number before boarding. We wanted to ensure that all that information was retained so that when you do get a live merchant account, that merchant is linked to the lead it came from. You can see all that information within the same screen alongside the merchant information like account details from the processor, its batches, transactions, disputes and statements. So, you’ve got one screen with the entire history.
Myers: Let’s move on from sales and talk about customer support, which can be a massive challenge for any payments company. How does the IRIS CRM platform help its customers with support?
Ruckman: Like with sales, we have specific tools for supporting and servicing merchant accounts. Our Help Desk is the home for this, and it allows tracking of any issue, question or what we call “to do” about a merchant account.
Basically, if something comes up about a merchant, you will put it in the help desk as a ticket. That’s where you will put a description, attachments and comments. You can assign it to people and set due dates. You can also create checklists for processes to ensure accountability.
Keeping that data and making sure it’s always available is important. So, in the Help Desk, you can look back and say, “Oh yeah, we had a billing question for that client a couple of months ago.” Or, “That account had a question about hardware a month ago.” You’ve got a full history that’s available to you.
Help Desk is also home to our maintenance pieces. So, for TSYS full-service providers, we can do account maintenance, including updating bank account information, account details, pricing and terminals. In addition, one of our more impressive features, specifically within NMI, is the ability to board an account.
So, when you’ve got an existing merchant account, in the Help Desk, you can take the information you already have about that merchant account, such as the contacts, settlement details, and processor information and then select a pricing plan for them and board to the gateway account and get that ID back within a second. One of the things we’ve been focusing on is how to strengthen and add to our connections.
Myers: You mentioned residual reporting a little earlier. Walk us through the importance of it and what functionality IRIS CRM has.
Ruckman: While setting up residual splits and adjustments, we make everything very trackable and visible. We bring control to ISOs by ensuring every change is accounted for. That visibility and control empowers them to know that they’re making correct calculations for those residuals, and they can see the math happening inside each calculation.
One impressive thing we have in our residuals feature is the “Fee Verifier,” which allows you to take residuals from your first import for a given processor and determine your buy rates based on the data points in the file. For future reports you get, it will confirm that those buy rates are still being used to calculate your payout as the ISO.
We found that sometimes processors don’t always get it perfectly right. So, it’s like an audit tool for the ISO to ensure that they’ve got the right amount of information and the correct numbers to pay their teams correctly.
Myers: Is there anything else you’d like to add before we wrap up the show?
Ruckman: I think I already mentioned strengthening our integration with the NMI gateway platform, and we’ve also got another company that’s joined under the NMI umbrella, Agreement Express—they do underwriting.
So, for our wholesale and financial service professional friends, we can connect to Agreement Express and bring in what they call the Scorecard so you can see what’s happened with the underwriting and if there are any flags raised or anything to resolve. We had a basic integration before, but we’re building a much more robust and capable one. That will be coming out in a few months.
Then, we will be adding maintenance for gateway accounts and live reporting for our NMI gateway partners that also utilize IRIS CRM. So, in addition to all the transactions you would see on an NMI merchant account, you’ll also be able to identify specific gateway transactions and perform maintenance on those accounts.
By having IRIS CRM, Agreement Express and NMI together, we’ve created a super solution for our current and future partners.