As payment providers shift more of their operations online, they may still find a need for spoken communication with their clients — even when those clients also sell exclusively online.

EWAY, an online payment provider based in Australia, has found success mainly because the company has expanded its customer service call center, rather than try to shift its customer service to the Web, according to its CEO.

"A lot of these companies get sucked into the technology," said eWAY's CEO, Matt Bullock. The Internet and the subsequent proliferation of free, real-time email has tempted many payments gateways to scrap phone-based customer support altogether. This helps providers reduce overhead costs, but is also frustrating to merchant clients.

Seventeen-year-old eWAY has 18,000 merchant customers that account for more than 2.5 million transactions per month, Bullock said. The company connects to all the banks in Australia and New Zealand, six banks in the U.K. and two covering Singapore, Hong Kong and Malaysia. It provides processing as well as e-commerce design software and accounting products.

The company provides a 24/7 phone line and live online chat with screen-sharing, and it gets between 300 and 400 inquiries per day, said Bullock. Customers call about not being able to sign in or needing help with integration, he said. EWAY would like to implement online video chat in the next several months as well.

It wasn't easy to develop a customer call center that spanned three continents, Bullock said. A lot of development went into making sure a customer was routed to an agent in the same region who was also able to address the customer's specific inquiry, Bullock said.

This is "a big difference from just having a mobile number on a site," he said.

Several Bitcoin third-party providers are focusing on customer support in an effort to make the high-tech, sometimes confusing digital currency more accessible for customers. Circle Internet Financial announced phone support, available for limited business hours in May last year, before its consumer wallet launched to the public. Digital currency purchasing platform Expresscoin also launched with a strong focus on customer service.

Because eWAY has had this emphasis on phone support, it's cut the average ticket response time from 63 minutes to 16 minutes, Bullock said. The company has also decreased the time it takes to solve a customer's problem from 22 hours down to two hours and 46 minutes, he said.

The company has also been working with its bank partners to cut the time it takes to enroll on the platform. The process used to take between four and six weeks, said Bullock, but now takes about four days. "We're trying to get that down to four minutes," he said.

EWAY takes a percentage of each transaction, usually 2.2% plus 30 cents. 

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