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Considerations for local governments evaluating payment kiosk vendors

Government organizations are increasingly investing in self-serve kiosks to provide services to their constituents. While self-serve equipment can provide services effectively and cost efficiently, government decision makers need to consider the reputation and capabilities of the kiosk vendors they partner with.

Considerations for local governments evaluating payment kiosk vendorsMunicipalities are allowing residents to pay taxes at self-service kiosks. Photo courtesy of AdComp Systems Group.

| by Mansur Plumber — CEO, AdComp Systems Group

Self-service payment kiosks have become increasingly popular among local governments because they make it easier for citizens to pay both during and after business hours. But a kiosk machine is a long-term investment that needs to be well-designed to ensure it eases the burden on your government staff and improves the payment experience for citizens. So, it's important to select the right payment kiosk vendor that has the expertise to build a machine that is secure, durable and easy to use.

Here are some key factors you should consider when evaluating payment kiosk vendors.

Does the vendor have relevant expertise and a good reputation?

Look for a vendor that has demonstrable experience in building self-service kiosks. The vendor should also have the ability to customize the design of their machine for diverse placements, such as indoor, outdoor or through-the-wall. Assess prospective vendors' portfolios to determine whether they have worked on projects of similar scope and size as your own. This will help you decide if the vendor has the technical know-how to build a kiosk that fits your specific requirements.

Further, ask vendors for references so you can talk to their clients for feedback on the quality of the vendor's expertise, work ethic and customer service. Vendors should be able to guarantee 99% kiosk uptime to ensure high service availability.

Reviewing a vendor's past projects and connecting with references will help you make an informed decision and choose the right partner that can deliver a kiosk on schedule.

Can the vendor develop a user-friendly kiosk and provide reliable customer service?

Your vendor's kiosk workflow should be intuitive and straightforward so citizens — including those who may not be tech-savvy — can seamlessly navigate through the interface, look up their balance by choosing from multiple identification options and make a payment without any confusion.

Moreover, pick a vendor that can provide reliable, 24/7 customer support so citizens making a payment can get professional technical assistance if and when they need it.

The vendor should also be able to provide an ADA-compliant kiosk with the ability to support multiple languages to ensure inclusive service. Discuss ADA compliance with prospective vendors and check if their kiosks can be made accessible to citizens with visual and hearing impairments. Further, get a kiosk that can give out a receipt at the end of a transaction so citizens have hard proof of payment to eliminate any ambiguity.

Can the vendor customize their kiosk machine and handle chargebacks?

Look for a vendor that can fit their kiosk with high-quality, secure hardware and software components. Whether you want a kiosk that can dispense change or you prefer to credit the outstanding balance to a citizen's next payment, your vendor should have the capability to include or exclude components to meet your desired product functionality.

Similarly, if you want to provide citizens with a one-stop payment solution for utilities, taxes, citations and more, make sure your vendor can program their kiosk to collect payments for multiple departments within your government.

Partner with a vendor that can design a kiosk that accepts cash, checks and credit cards so you can provide citizens with diverse payment options. It would also be useful to check with prospective vendors if they guarantee payments and handle chargebacks in the event of a refund or fraudulent transaction.

Is the vendor's kiosk PCI compliant, and does the vendor provide kiosk upgrades?

The vendor's commitment to security should be a key consideration when choosing between prospective kiosk partners. To keep your citizens' financial and personal information safe, it's essential to select a vendor that follows industry-leading security standards and offers a PCI-compliant kiosk solution. Choose a vendor that routinely monitors the kiosk to swiftly identify and fix any technical or security issues.

To ensure the longevity of your kiosk, it's best to partner with a vendor that keeps pace with technological advances in the industry, continues to innovate and consistently updates the kiosk's hardware and software. Talk to vendors and their references to determine the frequency and quality of these upgrades, including what steps vendors take to minimize service disruptions and facilitate a quick turnaround.

Can the vendor integrate their kiosk solution with your financial software?

Vendors should be able to integrate their kiosk solution with your existing financial software so you can seamlessly capture and record customer transaction data. Discuss the integration process with prospective vendors and whether they post payments in a batch or in real-time.

If a vendor can update the payment information in real-time, it will ensure your customer accounts are up-to-date. Any delay in recording a transaction could mean that your citizens could get hit with penalties or service interruptions. So, you should select a vendor that provides real-time payment reports to make it easier for you to track transactions.

By partnering with the right payment kiosk vendor, you can ensure successful project execution from start to finish. Choose a vendor that is up-to-date with industry best practices and trends, and has the expertise — backed by strong references — to build a custom payment kiosk that will provide your staff and citizens with the intended convenience.

Mansur Plumber

Mansur Plumber is the Founder and CEO of AdComp Systems Group, a government technology company that develops integrated payment and ERP solutions. Mr. Plumber has over 2 decades of experience in developing self-service kiosks and digital payment solutions for local governments.

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