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The Green Sheet Online Edition

September 14, 2020 • Issue 20:09:01

Moving forward through service amid COVID-19 - Part 4

In our July 27, Aug. 10 and Aug. 24, 2020, issues, we published answers received from members of The Green Sheet Advisory Board to the following:

  1. Given current conditions, how have you planned for and executed a path forward for your company that strikes a balance between fostering safety and economic recovery?
  2. What have you done to help your merchants/clients conduct business safely as they go through the same process?
  3. How have you worked with business and/or community partners to achieve the same ends?
  4. What guiding principles should people in the payments community keep in mind as they work to keep their businesses and the industry strong through this crisis and beyond?

This is the fourth and final group of insights from our esteemed Advisory Board to this round of inquiry. We appreciate their taking time to contribute their perspectives to this series.

Ben Abel, Bank Associates Merchant Services

  1. Prior to our home state's lockdown going into effect, a significant cross-section of our workforce was already working from home. We use a cloud-based CRM called IRIS CRM, which has a built-in dialer tool and capability for managerial oversight, so transitioning the remaining members of our team to working from home was done easily. Most of our meetings and collaborations were already being managed virtually, so I was very pleased with how smooth the entire process had been.

    Our home state has allowed the reopening of offices, and we've implemented all of the necessary measures to ensure that our team members can come to work safely, although those who have requested to continue working from home have been granted that allowance.

  2. The first thing we did when the lockdown was initiated was to contact our merchants to understand how this impacted them. While retail and restaurants closed, many other industries were continuing to operate, simply now from home instead of a central location. Initially, virtual terminals and emailed invoices were something being heavily leaned on to provide safe and secure methods of payment acceptance.

    As businesses have opened in various degrees our goal has been to provide the best solution that fits that specific merchant's needs. This may be ensuring their terminal has a contactless option, helping restaurants set up their own online ordering options to circumvent the high commissions of the ordering platforms or, as some dining resumes, replacing menus with QR codes to reduce the amount of items that need to be touched and have the potential for viral transmission.

  3. The first thing has been to keep all our agents/partners abreast of the tools which were available for merchants. As the pandemic has pushed demand into certain areas that were deemed less important only a few months ago, we wanted to make sure everyone knew and was educated on everything that may provide value to merchants at this time.

    With a lot of transactions being pushed into the CNP environment we also reviewed available fraud protection tools with our merchants, agents and partners to ensure that more CNP transactions didn't also translate into increased disputes.

  4. There are several takeaways from this which I think are very valuable, both for the payments industry as well as others. First, you must be able to keep a pulse of the needs of your client base. Situations and needs change and only by staying in tune with those needs can you consistently provide value to your clients. For example, investing all of your resources into pushing a restaurant POS in the middle of March would likely have been a failing strategy.

Second, and this builds on the previous point, is that you cannot always expect things to remain the same, and so you cannot stagnate with your value proposition. Being able to stay nimble and pivot as needed is extremely important.

Third, the last thing I would keep in mind is looking internally; your people aren't robots, and especially in turbulent times, internal morale can have a significant impact on a company's ability to effectively execute. The people on our team are also members of our community and have been wrought with concern for themselves and their family, their jobs and the future. We've made a serious effort to be proactive in providing leadership, stability and transparency to our team members so they know they are valued contributors and not automatons.

Maurice Griefer, Maverick Payments

  1. As a service provider, I think most payments companies have an advantage in that we can pretty easily work remotely. I'm personally not a fan of the remote workforce though. I believe most companies are more productive when everyone is under the same roof, but given current conditions, we need to do our part to help slow the spread of the virus and respect each other's health and safety.

    We have been operating as normal again (for now) while everyone at our office wears masks and washes their hands incessantly. We are flexible when employees want to work from home, too, so I feel we are doing the best we can to keep a safe workplace and make sure we continue to serve our merchants.

  2. We work with more ecommerce merchants than brick-and-mortar, so for our ecommerce clients, nothing too significant has changed except for many of them experiencing increases in sales volume as more business is shifted online now. The only downside is that we've seen a lot more chargeback activity than normal (as many processors are) so we've spent a lot of time making sure our merchants have the right fraud protection tools so we can support their growth with minimal risk exposure.

    For the brick-and-mortar merchants who have really been hurting, we've just been offering whatever support we can to help them. For some, it's been helping them upgrade to contactless terminals, quickly set up an online store or integrate online ordering, or simply waiving fees for a few months while they stay closed and figure out their plan.

    We process payments for quite a few PPE merchants, so we've been referring our other merchants to them if they need a good deal on masks, sanitizer and other supplies. We're all just taking this day by day and helping clients any way we can.

  3. We're taking a similar approach with our business partners and outside agents, just helping however we can. This is such a critical time, and if you go the extra mile right now for your partners and their merchants, it'll pay dividends for years to come, especially when things eventually return to normal.

    I think many companies' true colors come out during times of crisis, so if you can step up now when times are tough, you'll be much better positioned for the future. It always feels good to help someone in need even if you don't get anything from it financially, because with where the world is currently, we all need to collaborate and lend a hand.

  4. This pandemic has been like nothing we've ever experienced before, but I've learned a lot as we fight to keep our business growing and make sure our merchants and partners are getting the highest level of service right now. Our team has been absolutely phenomenal these past few months, and everyone has really stepped up to make sure things are getting done and clients are happy.

    Therefore, I think the most important thing any company can do is focus on building the best team. Happy and helpful employees equals happy and loyal customers.

    We've also had to be more creative and resourceful these last few months as well, which I think a lot of people are in the payments world, but it's been more important than ever to retain clients and sign up new merchants who may be a bit more challenging.

There are a lot of opportunities out there as we've seen banks and processors tighten up, so if you're proactive, engaging with your network, and staying in touch with clients or other people you may have lost touch with, you'll be surprised what may fall into your lap.

Most importantly, I hope everyone stays safe and healthy during these times. end of article

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