COVID-19 is raging throughout the world and the United States is one of the hardest-hit countries, surpassing 325,000 deaths (approximately 0.1% of the U.S. population) and more than 18 million confirmed U.S. COVID cases, at the time of this publication. Many U.S. hospital intensive care units (ICUs) are at capacity and many more are nearing capacity.
Across the country, governors, mayors and municipal leaders are mandating regional lock-downs and stay-at-home orders which have a devastating effect on small businesses—the lifeblood of the U.S. economy. In 2019, small businesses generated 44% of the US economic activity and, as a whole, they create two-thirds of net new jobs and drive U.S. innovation and competitiveness. When small businesses hurt the whole economy hurts. Going into regional lock-downs again may result in massive layoffs and permanent closures. However, just in time for Christmas, the U.S. Congress has reached an agreement on a bipartisan relief bill some dare to call a stimulus bill.
The new $900 billion deal includes $284 billion for the PPP, which reopens after two previous tranches: $367 billion in March 2020 and an additional $285 billion in April 2020, for a total of $652 billion.
Much like the program’s first and second iteration, the third will be in the form of forgivable loans to small firms, but there are likely to be key changes on issues such as eligibility for second-time applicants and other types of forgivable expenses.
Here’s what we know so far.
The Spring 2020 rollout of the first and second rounds of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) was tarnished by exceedingly high call volumes, excessively high call handling and wait times for small business owners contacting banks for a lifeline. Some applications that were supposed to be processed in hours took weeks, while employees remained out of work through no fault of their own, awaiting relief checks.
The third round of the PPP comes at a very auspicious time: bank employees are still working remotely, many branches remain closed, many payments ceased months ago, there are new concerns about the virus mutating, Christmas and New Year’s are upon us, and a new U.S. Presidential administration is taking shape. So, many questions for small businesses remain. Banks and lenders will need to make the PPP process as clear and straightforward as possible to their agents and clients.
Proactive outreach, AI, automation, predictive routing and calling will be essential for outreach to the most vulnerable clients while ensuring proper staffing levels. Since many banks have shuttered their branches they are leveraging the contact center as their client experience hub. They are standing-up special, dedicated remote teams to facilitate the PPP application intake and review process to ensure fair, fast and efficient processing for their small business clients.
A recent Talkdesk Research™ report, The CX Revolution in Financial Services and Insurance, in which 220 global financial services and insurance firms and more than 900 of their clients and policyholders were interviewed, found that 63% of clients believed one poor experience would motivate them to switch banks—just one. In addition, 82% of financial services and insurance firms believe their contact center is a strategic asset and a differentiator. They see the contact center as a hub for their client experience with omnichannel spokes into the web, chatbots, apps, email, SMS and social to deliver a cohesive and delightful experience. For some banks and lenders, the contact center replaces the retail footprint, left by the closure of branches.
Talkdesk CX Cloud™ is the market-leading, secure client banking solution designed to integrate every client engagement across channels and lines of business. With Talkdesk’s award-winning cloud-native solution, banks can rapidly deploy integrated communications across a flexible, secure platform to deliver differentiated client experiences that build and retain loyalty. Talkdesk CX Cloud is designed for the “new normal” where banks can deliver speed and trust at scale.
Talkdesk can help financial institutions quickly stand-up dedicated PPP contact centers to manage emergency programs like PPP in multiple iterations, or integrate the Talkdesk CX Cloud into your overall contact center platform, leveraging:
Talkdesk CX Cloud helps to reduce agents average speed of answer (ASA), client average wait time (AWT), improve agent productivity and increase customer satisfaction (CSAT) scores.
The effects of COVID-19, along with the mortgage crisis and resulting Great Recession, will have its place in history as one of this generation’s greatest trials. The mobilization of bankers to administer these government-backed programs is a brilliant example of dozens, hundreds, sometimes thousands of bank employees banding together to tackle an incredible challenge.
The old saying goes, “Fool me once shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” Banks and lenders said the first PPP was issued by the government over a weekend back in March and they had to start taking applications within 72 hours without a lot of warning, training or recourse. During the first and second tranche of PPP, the banks and lenders had to fend for themselves, responding as best they could, considering the circumstances. There were a lot of errors, some forgiven, others not. However, the banks and lenders have had nearly eight months to lick their wounds and better prepare to service clients. This time, if there are significant blunders, it will be shame on them.
To learn more about how Talkdesk is helping banks streamline service and stand-up enterprise-level omnichannel contact centers, please learn more here.
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