An EMV Education: Educating your guests to mitigate slowdowns

By : Andy Sirmon

October 30, 2015 03:14 PM

In our recent posts, we’ve discussed the operational impacts of EMV, how EMV will affect the guest experience and speed of service and finally how you can educate your staff to help mitigate these impacts. Now let’s discuss the final piece in offsetting the operational impacts of EMV: guest education.

Guest education remains essential to minimizing operational impacts that result from implementing EMV. Those who have already adopted the technology, or have conducted an EMV transaction as a consumer, have undoubtedly seen consumers stumble over “dipping” the new chip cards, removing the cards too early from the payment terminal device, and even repeatedly trying to swipe the card, since consumers are used to the behavior associated with older magnetic stripe cards. These minor events can compound upon one another to cause a serious delay in a restaurant’s speed of service. That’s why you have to make certain your staff remains ready and available to help guests with their new cards by educating them in the areas below, especially in environments where customers are using payment terminal devices themselves, such as quick or counter service restaurants:

Show Customers how to Dip the Card

As mentioned in our last post, staff members should identify whether a guest’s credit card is a new chip card or an older magnetic stripe card at the outset of every transaction. This helps determine the next steps in the transaction –the card will either need to be swiped if it’s an older magnetic stripe card, or “dipped” if it’s a newer EMV chip card.

To begin a transaction with the new chip cards, the cards must be inserted chip-end first, facing up – a process known as “dipping” the card. This allows the terminal to engage with the microchip, which is how an EMV transaction verifies that the card is not fraudulent. Your customers may not know this, but taking the time to explain the security benefits of the new system while politely showing the customer the right way to insert the card will help them to understand the need for the process change.


Customers may try to swipe their new chip cards out of habit; after all, it’s a process they’ve been used to for many years. However, a helpful prompt on the payment terminal device will also let them know they’ll need to dip their card, as opposed to swiping. Another thing to look out for will be guests still using traditional magnetic stripe cards. They will need to continue swiping these cards until they receive their newer chip cards; however, these guests may see EMV-card bearing customers dipping their cards and try to follow suit with their magnetic stripe cards. Quickly explain to them that their cards still use the magnetic stripe for transactions and request they swipe their card instead.


As more consumers continue to receive their new chip cards over the next several months, more will be using these cards for the first time – and that first time may be in your restaurant. So your staff should be prepared to help guests understand the proper use of their new chip cards, specifically how to insert them in the new payment terminal device.


Leaving the Card in the Terminal

It’s important to help your customers remember that they must leave the chip card in the payment terminal device for the duration of the transaction. Be forewarned, however; old habits die hard. As we’ve grown accustomed to the fast transaction times of the older magnetic stripe cards, we’re used to swiping our card and then immediately returning it to our wallet or purse. The act of inserting the EMV-card into the payment terminal device and letting the card rest there while the transaction is processed is new to many consumers, and this will be a continual learning process as more and more consumers receive their new chip cards and begin using them.


However, you can take steps to keep your transaction times at a minimum. At the outset, have your staff instruct guests to leave the card in the terminal until the transaction is complete. If the customer removes the card too early, the transaction process must be restarted.


Direct Guests’ Attention to the On-Screen Prompts

As mentioned, many payment terminal devices provide easy-to-follow on-screen instructions to help with the new payment process. These alerts should cover everything from identifying when to insert the chip card, to when it can be removed, to instructing guests who try to swipe a chip card to insert it instead. One of the simplest ways to ensure your speed of service doesn’t take a major hit is to simply make sure the guest is engaging with the on-screen prompts.


Particularly at quick-service restaurants where customers may be engaged in side-conversations with family or friends while waiting, it becomes critical to make certain the customer is paying attention to the screen. This small act can pay dividends into the overall guest experience.


Avoiding Left Behind Cards 

Leaving the new EMV chip cards in the payment terminal for the duration of the transaction can have additional, unintended consequences: guests may forget to retrieve their credit cards after the transaction is completed.


Some payment terminals will alert the customer once the card can be removed, either through on-screen notifications or through an audible alarm. However, take the extra step and have your staff members verbally remind customers to collect their card at the outset of the transaction. Your customers will be grateful for it, and so will your staff as they won’t have to store a multitude of forgotten cards.


Explaining the change

Change is inconvenient and sometimes painful. Restaurants are well-positioned to alleviate consumer discomfort with EMV by anticipating customers’ frustration and training cashiers and staff thoroughly on new processes and the benefits of EMV. This is key to making your EMV implementation a success. Your employees will not only need to learn how to use the technology themselves, but they will also need to know how to help customers with inserting their EMV chip cards, making sure not remove them before transactions are finished. Your staff should also be available to help guests should a PIN be required to complete the transaction.


Even with your best efforts in educating your guests, unfortunately delays may still occur; this is to be expected when making such a major transition to the way your guests pay with credit cards. In moments when guests are confused or frustrated with this new process, it may be helpful to remind them of the reason for these new procedures: EMV brings a more secure transaction for consumers, which protects them from fraudulent card use. Reminding your guests that the small delay is providing them an additional layer of security may help ice any potential frustration.


EMV has seen success in other global markets where it has been implemented. The burden is on all of us to make sure that the story is repeated in the U.S. It all starts with a sustained, collective effort to educate consumers about what’s coming and continuing to provide the same level of exceptional service that has drawn guests to your restaurant in the first place.


Andy Sirmon

NCR Hospitality

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Andy is a passionate marketer dedicated to helping make every day easier for restaurant operators. Here, Andy shares his insights on the restaurant industry and how disruptive innovation is transforming the way restaurants do business.