Connecting with the Community

NetSpend walks the walk

Walking in their customers' shoes was the mantra heard from more than 300 NetSpend® team members in Austin and other NetSpend locations on Dec. 11, 2014. For the fourth year they opted out of a holiday party and opted in to an event they call Community Connect.

Forty-six teams departed the command center with $400 and a bus pass, charged with using the NetSpend products and completing tasks like filling up someone’s gas tank or paying off someone's payday loan to paying for a prescription or utility bill. The goal was simply to make a difference in the lives of the people they encountered while experiencing some of the tough choices that many of their self-banked customers face every day.

As has become their custom, project coordinators tweaked the event, described as part scavenger hunt, part product immersion and part community engagement. For the first time, they invited sponsors to join them in making a difference.

NetSpend and their sponsor companies gave more than $30,000 to individuals and organizations during the event. And you can bet that team members take pride in the fact that they walked the talk and will take the lessons they learned about their customers' experiences back to their offices and work even harder to make a difference in their lives.

"It is very important for our customers to feel that our company is centered on them," said Romy Parzick, head of Customer Impact Initiatives at NetSpend. "And to feel that we put our energy into understanding what their lives are like, what their needs are, where their pain points are...that's an amazing feeling. We've got their back and that's what we hear from our customers a lot − NetSpend's got our back."


Recap of 2013:
For NetSpend, the newest member of the TSYS® family and an organization that prides itself on serving an estimated 60 million self-banked cardholders, a typical fundraiser or day of service wouldn't suffice. The team wanted more — more engagement, more connection and more impact.

Enter Community Connect. Described as a combination scavenger hunt, product immersion session and community engagement, Community Connect truly was an experience — and far more than just an event.


Meeting customers where they live

On Dec. 13, 2013, more than 300 team members on 50 teams in three cities were tasked with using NetSpend products to complete challenges requiring them to step into their customers' shoes and walk through their communities.

"We created Community Connect so that all of our employees spend at least one day experiencing the tough choices our customers make every day," said Chuck Harris, NetSpend president and Community Connect 2013 participant. "It reminds us what it takes for our customers to make their financial lives work and makes us a better company, better employees and a better team."

Teams were given $400, a bus pass and four hours to complete as many challenges as they could. Challenges ranged from filling up someone's gas tank or buying hot meals for the homeless to using only public transportation, paying off pawn or payday loans and springing for parking for unsuspecting drivers. Teams accumulated points based on the difficulty and expense of each challenge. They even received points for earning a "high five" or hug after helping someone.

In addition to the more than $20,000 NetSpend invested in the Community Connect 2013 experience, the company also donated more than $5,000 to local charities. Rather than receiving prizes, teams used the points they accumulated to vote for a donation to the charity of their choice.

"I feel proud that I work for a company willing to give back," said Elisa Suarez, NetSpend team member and Community Connect 2013 participant. "These events show what type of company we are and help us stand apart from others in our industry."


A tech-savvy company

Community Connect capitalized on NetSpend's focus on both serving their customers and staying on the cutting edge of technology. From using smartphone apps to track challenges to using NetSpend's mobile products and posting on social media, team members embraced technology during the event.

In fact, team members received the following specific instructions:

"This is your day to connect. We want you to connect to our product, our partners, our customers, our communities and each other. This year, you will connect in person, over the phone and through the mobile and social channels."

While the 2013 event is only the second time the company has tackled this event, team members and company leadership are already looking forward to Community Connect 2014.

"This is the right thing to do," said Robert Hunt, NetSpend team member and Community Connect 2013 participant. "We were able to learn about our customers, experience what they go through every day and give back to our customers and the community. It feels good to give something back to those who have made us so successful."


NetSpend Quick Facts

  • NetSpend donated more than $25,000 during Community Connect 2013 between the event itself and direct donations to local charities.
  • NetSpend's Community Connect began in 2012 and the company plans to continue the event in the future.
  • Community Connect 2013: Dec. 13, 2013, more than 300 team members and 50 teams in three cities.
  • NetSpend, a leading provider of reloadable prepaid debit cards and related financial services and TSYS' newest segment, serves more than 60 million self-banked consumers.