Saturday, February 16, 2013

Meet Nasir Shakouri of Encore Payments

Nasir Shakouri is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Encore Payments. With a background in finance combined with over 10 years in the merchant acquiring industry, Nasir Shakouri started Encore Payments to focus on customer satisfaction and fraud prevention.

1. When did you decide to start Encore Payments?

I decided to launch Encore in May 2012.

2. What are some of the benefits of Encore Payments for your merchants and agents?

The payment processing industry is quite competitive. Every processor or merchant acquirer will tell you that they can provide high quality and reliable service, that they offer the best technological capability, and that they are the lowest cost provider.

Those are all key points that cannot be ignored and we at Encore continuously strive to achieve and improve on them. However, we also feel that the only way our staff could provide that type of premier service is through proper training. All Encore employees are required to complete a rigorous training program before we allow them to interact with our agents or our merchants. Our methodology is that in order to properly service our customers (from our call center), the customer service representatives need to interact (face to face) with our merchants. The best way to have proper interaction with a merchant or an agent is to become one. In other words, as part of our training process, we send our customer service representatives out in the field, with supervision, so that the representatives learn how to properly interact with a merchant, on site. We feel that this process is a integral part of providing the type of premier service that we are striving to achieve at Encore, because it allows our representatives to see first-hand how much work and effort an agent exerts in order to sign a single merchant account. From a merchant's standpoint, the representatives also learn first-hand the key points that a merchant expects from its payment processing provider.

3. Could you give some examples of the kinds of businesses that are using your product?

Any business that accepts credit or debit cards as a form of accepting payments is a prospective customer of ours. From Joe's Coffee Shop that may have 5 employees, to a more established merchant with hundreds or even thousands of employees. There is no limit.

4. What distinguishes your company from other options for merchants?

At Encore, our philosophy is to make our merchants feel that they are forming a partnership with us. Not only do we want to assist them in accepting credit cards as a form of payment, but with our extensive suite of products, we can assist our merchants with their business growth strategies. Whether a merchant needs a loan for working capital expansion, online marketing services (SEO) in order to increase traffic to their store(s), designing a website or any other graphic design work, discounted office supplies, etc, our suite of products assure that our merchants do not need to turn elsewhere for any of their business needs.

5. As an entrepreneur yourself and someone with a strong background in finance, what recommendations do you have for people who want to expand their businesses and see them become more profitable?

In my opinion, the key point is finding the balance between a disciplined financial approach and understanding the needs and trends in the industry (the intangibles). Some organizations attempt to run their companies while only considering the outputs of their Financial Models, and they tend to forget the many other intangibles that need to be considered when evaluating an opportunity. It is critical that the decision makers at an organization understand the impact of their decisions on their assets, such as their agents, their merchants and just as important, their employees. This does not mean that financial decisions should be made without the proper analysis and proper "stress tests" that are required when analyzing a financial model, however, that financial emphasis and discipline needs to be balanced with the other intangible factors that exist in any business, especially in ours. Thanks, Nasir!

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