The covid pandemic mandating regional lock-downs and stay-at-home orders had a devastating effect on small and midsize businesses (SMBs)—the lifeblood of the U.S. economy—and when small businesses hurt, the whole economy hurts.
The Paycheck Protection Program (PPP)—a business loan program established by the U.S. Federal government Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act—distributed $663 billion to over seven million small businesses to help them stay afloat, representing a great opportunity, but also posing significant logistical and access challenges for banks and lenders.
Although a great initiative, the implementation of PPP has left a lot to be desired. Fragmented loan applications and long wait times for funds left small business owners frustrated. In many cases, the businesses in most need of the funds never received them.
Minority-owned businesses have been largely left to fend for themselves as lenders could not cover them in their outreach. Small business owners are desperately looking for an advisor to help them navigate through this crisis now more than ever, with the possibility of even more rounds of PPP being initiated by Congress and the looming forgiveness deadline at the end of the year.
Talkdesk and one of our customers, Upside Business Travel, have developed ways to support the small businesses most impacted, both with PPP loan distribution and forgiveness.
Upside Business Travel was significantly impacted by COVID-19. As demand for business travel plummeted almost overnight, they too experienced first-hand the complexity and challenges of the PPP application and forgiveness process.
“Our experience applying for and receiving a PPP loan last year was frustrating due to process delays, including long hold times and slow responses from the support centers,” said Scott Case, co-founder and chief executive officer, Upside Business Travel.
With business travel coming to a grinding halt, Upside saw an opportunity to deliver PPP assistance to small and medium businesses and launched Upside Financial, a financial services technology division that helps other SMBs take the pain out of PPP, all while continuing to build out Upside’s travel product.
The team quickly realized that although they were fortunate to have the resources and a financial team to manage the complex PPP process, many small businesses did not and were at a disadvantage.
“Business owners are on the hook for any mistakes they make with the PPP. Just like taxes, they should seek an expert to maximize their return,” says Warren Zentz, Upside director of operations.
He shared his advice to PPP borrowers:
Upside Business Travel came to Talkdesk from their previous contact center vendor for reliability, scalability, and ease of use. The team needed a provider that could grow with their business and be flexible enough to change as the business changed.
“The two systems we were using before had constant outages and weren’t reliable. With data centers across the globe, Talkdesk provides better coverage and the ability to easily adjust as our business shifts,” Case says.
This scalability and flexibility came in handy shortly after Upside implemented Talkdesk in February of 2020. With customers canceling business travel plans due to COVID-19, call and chat volumes spiked.
“We had to monitor interactions, proactively reaching out to customers to see if they needed to make adjustments due to COVID-19. Talkdesk helped power our proactive customer servicing of unique business travel needs.”, explained Case.
Upside is now leveraging Talkdesk for their PPP support services at Upside Financial and their business travel services at Upside Business Travel, primarily through voice, chat and email, making the process smoother for both agents and customers.
Talkdesk and our customer Upside Financial are committed to helping the SMB community by streamlining the PPP process and ensuring quick distribution and forgiveness of funds to the businesses that need them the most.
Talkdesk’s Small Business Lending Solution is an end-to-end solution for delivering great borrower experiences that streamlines the administration of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loans by banks, credit unions and fintechs.
Among other features and powerful capabilities that improve the borrower experience, the solution provides proactive and transparent communications that keep customers updated on the application and funds distribution status.
Upside Financial is offering a PPP Advisor Pro service to save borrowers time, money and effort on their PPP loan forgiveness while getting the maximum benefit. The service includes a CPA review of all PPP-related documentation for a one-time affordable fee, providing expert guidance at a price point accessible for SMBs.
I’m thankful to be part of Talkdesk and for our amazing customers like Upside Business Travel and now Upside Financial, as we continue to support small and medium businesses during this time. For more on Upside, check out this fireside chat with Scott, Warren and myself:
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