At Netspend, we've always been here to help consumers get their tax refunds, Social Security income payments and other government benefits. But in recent weeks, we've also processed hundreds of thousands of stimulus payments for our Netspend customers, accounting for nearly $1 billion in much-needed funds.
It's a relief that stimulus disbursements are starting to arrive, but there's still so much more people need from us to cope with the unprecedented demands upon their financial and personal lives. This means that the Netspend team is feeling the call to increase support for customers more than ever before, and many other organizations across all industries are doing the same.
Four key principles have guided us in our response, and we think these are broad themes that all businesses can apply to support customers during COVID-19.
Now more than ever, customers need transparency and support. Proactive communication is an essential piece of not only maintaining customer loyalty but putting any concerns at ease. Keep customers informed through multiple forms of communication, including email, text messages, online account centers and mobile apps. Also be sure to prioritize and ensure timeliness, as customers value transparency from start to finish.
Many businesses, both inside and outside of financial services, are feeling the pressure in call centers, on websites and within mobile apps because of dramatically increased volumes. Having a coordinated, yet flexible, communication plan around digital customer engagement can help provide answers to basic questions, offer self-service options and outline realistic timelines for issues that need to be resolved in a timely manner.
For us at Netspend, that means ensuring all existing customers, as well as former ones, receive their stimulus money as quickly, easily and securely as possible. In fact, we have delivered funds up to two days faster than the market norm. In instances where deposits have been made to closed accounts, we're proactively contacting customers to confirm if they would like to re-activate their account, receive a complimentary replacement card, or return funds to the IRS to distribute via an alternative method.
2. Do the right thing
It's essential to keep in mind that while every household is experiencing the ripple effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, no two situations are the same. All customers, regardless of financial standing and access, should be treated with importance and empathy. In other words, doing good is good business.
While some consumers will receive their stimulus money via direct deposit or ACH, others remain unbanked or haven't filed their taxes yet. To ensure all of our customers are accounted for in the stimulus distribution, we've been working with partners from across the industry to outline potential solutions for individuals who do not currently have bank accounts to receive their stimulus deposit. Our team has designed several new product types for funding U.S. consumer accounts, while ensuring secure distribution, confirming the customer's identity and providing critical back-end monitoring to help reduce fraud exposure.
As Americans continue to face new daily struggles and financial challenges, organizations must consider the role they play in providing relief and tangible support, even when facing their own obstacles.
3. Help your partners
Take a look at your business partners and vendors– who needs help? And in what ways is COVID-19 impacting their ability to service their own customers? Is there anything you can do to ensure operational processes and critical projects can be fast-tracked?
In our case, we work with many large-scale national franchises in the fast-food delivery and restaurants, who have recently made the move to take-out and curbside pickup services. Recently, we've increased our efforts to provide efficient disbursements for driver tips and incidental reimbursements.
We are also working closely with our partner retail and check cashiers locations that remain open for business and essential to the livelihood of American consumers. We're ensuring they have access to card stock, as well as sufficient in-store and online explanatory materials. These help by ensuring customers understand the benefits of loading cashed checks onto general purpose reloadable prepaid cards or into demand deposit accounts. They can do this through physical locations or by using mobile apps, which enable contactless peer-to-peer transactions and bill payments, connecting them to the digital economy at a time they need it most.
4. Support local needs
Beyond your business partners and networks, make sure to take a look around locally and engage with community initiatives. How can you support the organizations where your employees live, work and shop by contributing to local initiatives and causes? It's an investment that will pay dividends many times over as you stand in solidarity with those in your community.
At Netspend, we're proud to be a home-grown Texas business. And we are working with other highly-engaged community organizations, such as H-E-B, a local grocery store chain, to support their employees and customers with free cards, fee waivers and easy-to-load products. We've also teamed up with community financial service centers to offer free cards to customers in a number of states across the U.S. Additionally, we are providing our payroll partners with card-based solutions that replace existing manual and costly programs for their employees. We're always looking to do more to provide financial relief and support during difficult times.
Consider your role in relief
As people across the world continue to face new daily struggles and financial challenges, we know our responsibility: to provide relief and tangible support, even when facing a completely unprecedented challenge. Every company is facing daily challenges related to COVID-19, and even still we encourage them to consider their role in providing relief and support to their customers, partners and communities.