The stimulus has arrived – here’s how to help your customers

For more than 20 years, Netspend has been providing payment solutions for U.S. consumers and enabling access to tax refunds, Social Security income payments and other government benefits as quickly, easily and securely as possible. Since Friday, April 10th, Netspend has processed hundreds of thousands of deposits for its customers, accounting for nearly $1 billion in stimulus payments, averaging between $1,200 to $2,700 per deposit.

Our customer data shows these stimulus funds are coming at a crucial time, as many families and individuals have increased expenses, such as food and healthcare costs, with far less predictable income due to COVID-19. We’re proud to be able to help U.S. consumers gain access to their stimulus money even faster during this critical time.

As stimulus disbursements hit consumers’ accounts and paper checks begin rolling out, Netspend advises companies to focus on four key themes to support American consumers and small businesses.

By Kelley Knutson, Netspend President

  1.   Proactive communication

Now more than ever, customers need transparency and support, especially as it relates to stimulus deposits. Proactive communication is an essential piece of maintaining customer loyalty and putting their concerns at ease. Keep customers informed of government processes 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 fast and secure access to their funds.

At Netspend, we’re working to ensure all existing customers, as well as former ones, receive their stimulus money as quickly, easily and securely as possible. In instances where deposits have been made to closed accounts, Netspend is 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. Under normal conditions and with the economic impact payments, we deliver funds up to 2 days faster than the market norm.

Everyone is 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 is fundamental to provide answers to basic questions, offer self-service options and outline realistic timelines for issues that need to be resolved in a timely manner.

  1.   Doing good is good business

It’s essential to keep in mind that while every American household is experiencing the ripple effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, no two financial situations are the same. While some consumers will receive their stimulus money via direct deposit or ACH, others remain unbanked or haven’t filed their taxes yet. Keep in mind that doing good is good for business. That’s why all customers – regardless of financial standing and access – should be treated with importance and empathy.

To ensure all customers are accounted for in the stimulus distribution, Netspend has 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. Netspend 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 during the end-to-end user experience.

  1.   Identify ways to help your partners and distribution network

Take a look at your partners and distribution network – who needs help? In what ways is COVID-19 impacting their ability to service customers? Determine what operational processes, customer engagement flows and critical projects need to be fast-tracked and continuously assess how to be a supportive partner.

As large-scale national franchises in the fast-food delivery and restaurants move to take-out and curbside services, Netspend has increased its efforts to provide efficient disbursements for driver tips and incidental reimbursements. We are also working closely with our partner retail locations to ensure marketing collateral, card stock and fund load capabilities are in place across the distribution network for retailers that remain open for business and essential to the livelihood of American consumers.

Finally, we’re working hard with our check cashiers’ network to ensure they also have available card stock and inventory, customer authentication procedures, risk controls and in-store and online materials. These materials help customers understand the benefits of loading cashed checks onto general purpose reloadable prepaid cards or into demand deposit accounts, both through physical locations and the check deposit capability on mobile apps. The mobile app also enables contactless peer-to-peer transactions and bill payments.

  1.   Support local initiatives

Beyond your national partners’ networks, it’s important to look locally and engage with community initiatives. Take a close look at who you’re working with locally and determine ways to support these organizations where your employees live, work, shop and contribute to local initiatives and causes.

At Netspend, as a home-grown Texas business, 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 US. 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 within local communities across the country to provide financial relief and support during difficult times such as these.

What’s next?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. Consumers and small businesses are looking for guidance and reassurance that measures are being taken to alleviate their financial burdens. At present, every organization is challenged with local sheltering orders, community health concerns and their own set of operating issues related to COVID-19 limitations. We encourage every company to take a close look at how they’re engaging and communicating with their customers, partners and communities during these unprecedented times.