The current pandemic and its associated market and economic gyrations have left people disoriented and apprehensive about the future.
We know that the economy will slow down and there will be people and businesses who have trouble managing their finances.
The federal government and state governments are taking or weighing action to help individuals and companies weather this crisis. But the private sector can do a lot on its own to help contain this crisis.
Unlike the federal government, companies don’t need to wait for an act of Congress to get something done. Policy changes and company planning can alleviate some of the stress of the pandemic for partners and customers.
As an example, like many people, I had plans to travel for work this week. And like many people, I had to cancel those plans, along with flights and hotels.
I was worried that I would lose money, particularly with the airlines, because I was cancelling at the last minute. All the same, I cancelled and asked for a refund. In my request, I said I would settle for a credit for future flights, but could they please waive the change fees.
This morning an e-mail arrived to tell me that I had received a full refund. In the short term, this is going to be a hit for the airline, but that airline has won some loyalty from me for future flights. Long term, I am more likely to start with them for planning travel.
As Americans struggle will income disruptions and possibly job losses, what kinds of things can payments companies do to help them? It might be offering a monthly fee holiday, or comping one or more out-of-network ATM fees.
These things will cost money in the short-term, but if they win long-term customer loyalty and help the overall economy recover, then a short-term revenue decline will be an investment that pays dividends in the future.
In the midst of this crisis, companies will do well if they remember that their success depends on the success of their customers in weathering the storm. Now is a time to look at your customer base, your business, and where you can offer help, and some wiggle room in coming days.
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