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The Green Sheet Online Edition

July 27, 2020 • Issue 20:07:02

Moving forward through service amid COVID-19 - Part 1

Figuring out how to save lives during the COVID-19 pandemic while also ensuring that the economy rebounds is one of the greatest challenges our society has faced. With no blueprint to follow, we are all making the best decisions possible using the information available. With that in mind, we posed the following questions to The Green Sheet Advisory Board:

  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?

Following is a portion of their answers. We appreciate all the perspectives we received and will publish further responses our Aug. 10, 2020 issue.

Thomas Aronica, Biller Genie

1. We took a proactive approach and transitioned to operating remotely about two weeks prior to the county mandate. The safety of our employees and their families is our paramount concern, and since our entire technology stack is in the cloud, we were able to seamlessly transition our teams into an effective remote workforce. Additionally, we have been able to successfully recruit, hire and train new employees, despite doing so in a remote environment.

I felt that the decision to operate from home was important not only for our team, but the community and clients we serve. Most of our clients have also shifted to a WFH environment and as such are relying more heavily on process automation to maintain business continuity. It is our mission and purpose to support these clients, and our community, in improving cash flow so they can make payroll and pay their vendors, therefore playing our small role in helping to stimulate economic recovery.

2. Our solution enables small and mid-sized businesses to improve cash flow and reduce administrative expenses by automating busywork and removing any friction in the customer payment experience. Our clients have reported that our technology has allowed them to shift labor resources to focus on business continuity while our system effectively manages the business's financial health at the same time.

Since our technology is designed to improve the customer payment experience in a remote environment, we have been able to facilitate the transition of many of our clients from receiving payments in person, to providing an easy and convenient online portal that drives self service and gives customers access to their information online, 24/7. By reducing the need for face-to-face interactions, Biller Genie gives safety and peace of mind to our clients and the customers they serve.

3. Same answer as 2.

4. I believe that the ability to be flexible and find creative solutions to identified shortfalls is the only way to increase merchant portfolio margin and volume in a post-COVID world. Many business owners don't even know the problems they have, let alone how to fix them. As payments industry professionals, we have a vast array of hardware and software available that solves problems beyond the transaction. It is our duty and responsibility to help these businesses identify deficiencies in their collections practices, evaluate potential service improvements, and provide education and access to the most effective tools that our industry has to offer.

Clinton Baller, PayNet Merchant Services

3. We have offered contactless, mobile and online payment options to all of our merchants and let them know that we are here to assist, as always. We are also working with an enterprise customer feedback platform called Chatter - www.chatterresearch.com - to bring their solution to SMBs through our ISO and other ISOs and ISVs. The platform is incredibly simple to implement, but very powerful. It uses artificial intelligence and SMS or chat to engage customers in open-ended conversations, and then processes the data to give merchants immediate, actionable information, so they can know what their customers are thinking and the relative importance of things with which they are both satisfied and dissatisfied.

It also provides instant alerts when customers express dissatisfaction, allowing the merchant to contact the customers and turn negative experiences into positive ones. Finally, it measures and improves Net Promoter Score (NPS), which is an important indicator of the likelihood that a merchant's business will grow.

Jared Isaacman, Shift 4 Payments

1. In March, we implemented a completely remote working structure to make sure our entire staff could socially distance, without having to choose between their health and their job. This included purchasing and distributing hundreds of laptops to our employees across the U.S. We've been operating this way for months now without any operational setbacks. And because we went all-in on working from home initially, we have the luxury of not having to rush as we recover. We can get back to normal at our own pace.

2. A large portion of our merchant customers are restaurants and hotels, which were some of the hardest hit industries. They had to either close their doors completely or scale back dramatically. We launched an ambitious campaign, Shift4 Cares, with a goal to raise $200 million to help struggling local hospitality businesses. We sold gift cards on behalf of these businesses to provide much needed revenue while they were closed or scaled down. Shift4 also contributed an extra 5 percent directly to the business for every gift card sold.

3. Our top priority for our customers has been giving their businesses the tools they need to operate in these unprecedented times. We shifted our focus as our customers' needs changed, releasing several free products focused on takeout, delivery, online ordering and contactless QR code payments. We also completely waived multiple fees associated with those same things to provide some relief to these businesses as they had to scale back their operations and rely exclusively on online ordering, curbside pickup and delivery. Through all this, we have been providing them with resources and best practices as they shifted toward a safe reopening.

4. As we navigate these unprecedented times, it's important to keep in mind that things will eventually return to normal. We live in a resilient country that has overcome many challenges throughout our history, and we operate in a resilient industry that has adapted to countless changes. Consumers will go out to eat again, stay at hotels, go shopping and enjoy live sporting events. Although it may take some time, life will once again return to normal. In the meantime, our top priority should be the health of our employees, customers, friends and family. We are all in this together, and together we will weather the storm.

Steve Sotis, eProcessing Network

1. As a company based in Houston, dealing with natural disasters has made creating a business continuity plan a necessity. Part of that plan is to ensure that ePN employees can work from home in a secure, choreographed manner, and have the equipment and supplies on-hand to allow them to continue to provide excellent stability and support to our resellers and merchants.

Customers are assured that the ePN Secure Payment Gateway, support via our Customer Support lines, the Reseller and Merchant Portals, as well as our Development Center are all operating in a "business as usual" capacity. Our connectivity with processors is uninterrupted, and our partnerships with OEMs and other providers remain strong and intact.

2. As a company proudly serving the small business community, ePN understands that providing resellers and their merchants with online tools is vital to those who need to maintain their business during these difficult and complex times. Partnering with ISOs to implement easy and affordable online and mobile payment solutions for their merchants has been key to helping them keep their business open - even in times when their physical doors might be closed. We encourage our ISO partners to use the vast resources available to help them build the best strategy for their merchants.

3. As a long-time, trusted leader in the industry, eProcessing Network works hard to create solutions and services that not only keep the merchant processing, but also offer ISOs the customized, versatile services needed to help their merchants re-open their doors and keep their businesses operating.

Our 3-in-1 devices truly allow the merchant to operate in a brick, click and go environment, while reducing the amount of physical interaction and avoiding the limitations of a standard POS terminal.

4. Communication with your customers is key. ePN listens to the feedback from their ISOs and the merchant "letters from the front lines" to help better understand and adapt to the ever-changing market. Our experience and tenure allow us the flexibility to quickly adapt to the technological needs of the merchant and partner successfully with ISOs to tailor services and solutions that make sense for their business - now and in the future. end of article

The Green Sheet Inc. is now a proud affiliate of Bankcard Life, a premier community that provides industry-leading training and resources for payment professionals. Click here for more information.

Notice to readers: These are archived articles. Contact names or information may be out of date. We regret any inconvenience.

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