CHASE-ing Empathy . . .

Eduardo Placer
5 min readApr 21, 2020

The email comes in. I feel a pit in my stomach. It’s 1:30 PM. Friday, April 17. It’s the end of week 5 of Social Distancing and Quarantining. The notification from Chase Bank arrives about the status of my PPP Loan.

I have been attune to the news and am aware that the initial money allocated to the program has run out, and although I am skeptical that I’ll receive this initial funding, there is still a sliver of hope.

On Friday, April 3rd, I submit the preliminary information that CHASE required to begin the application process on the Chase.com portal. It’s the day the program is LIVE. Chase promises to communicate the next step in the coming days.

I wait.

On Tuesday, April 7th, around 11AM, I make my way to the Chase Website to see if there are any updates. To my surprise the application is now LIVE. I spring into action, call my bookkeeper, and submit the application just before 2PM. Almost immediately after I hit send there is a moment of panic because I’m not given a confirmation number and I forget to take a screenshot of the completion page. I refresh my inbox for 45 minutes until a confirmation email finally arrives. Later that evening I receive an email from CHASE telling me that the applications are now LIVE on their website. I take a deep breath. I have done all there is for me to do.

I wait.

I continue to wait.

There is ZERO communication from Chase until I receive this email from Jennifer Roberts, CEO of Chase Business Banking on April 17th.

I read the email. Feel all the feelings. Walk over to the printer. Print the email. Grab a red felt tip marker and get to work.

I am a small business owner. I am a client of Chase Bank. There is a global pandemic. I shouldn’t be chasing CHASE for a shred of humanity and a touch of class in their communication.

As a communications expert, I chose to examine what was missing in this notification. What could have communicated effective and human-centered leadership in the midst of a global crisis?

What I uncovered were the 5 Principles necessary to communicate and build trust: RESPONSIBILITY, ACCOUNTABILITY, TRANSPARENCY, EMPATHY and MANAGING EXPECTATIONS or what I’m now calling RATE ME™.

RESPONSIBILITY — There are things that you can control and things that you cannot. Own what you’ve done well, and acknowledge what you have not. “We will do better, in the next few days” is not good enough. Do Better Now.

ACCOUNTABILITY — Both Houses of Congress and the President passed legislation to support Small Business Owners. The Banks were assigned the responsibility of managing and processing those loans. Many banks balked at the opportunity, chose to point fingers and blame. Nothing about this is ideal. Step up, own it and do the best you can.

TRANSPARENCY — I have been informed that there is a queue and a process. I still, however, do not know what number I am in the queue. I don’t know how many applications are in front of me. I also don’t know, nor am I confident, that if another round of funding is agreed upon by Congress and the President, that the funds will reach me.

EMPATHY — We are not just Business Clients. We are human beings, who are stressed, afraid and unsure. This is not just important. It is necessary and vital. You also have all of my private and personal information at your disposal. You know enough about me to advertise for credit cards and new accounts at your bank when I log in. Invest in a mail merge so that I have the experience that you’re dealing with an actual person.

MANAGE EXPECTATIONS — At this point, I want personal and open communication, often. I want to know what else you’re doing for me as a client and small business owner. I want you to communicate where we are in the process and what I can expect from it while being responsible, accountable, transparent and empathic.

CHASE, and Jennifer Roberts. For the handling of this situation and this communication your RATE ME™ score is an F.

I have drafted the letter, I wish I would have received from Ms. Roberts and the Communications Team at CHASE. Consider it my contribution, so that you can do better for all the small business owners that are your clients . . . NOW.

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Dear Eduardo,

We at Chase Bank understand that we find ourselves in the midst of a global crisis. The SBA’s Paycheck Protection Program, approved and signed by both houses of Congress and President Trump, is a lifeline to Small Businesses throughout our great nation. We all knew the demand would be high. Unfortunately, the funding allocated for this initial round could not reach the demand.

I am sorry to inform you that we were not able to process your application in this first round. We understand that you, as a small business owner, may be feeling angry, anxious and scared.

As CEO of Chase, Business Banking, I want to take full responsibility for our lack of communication in this process. These are trying times and our silence and unresponsiveness may have added to the stress you are currently experiencing. We promise to do better and we promise to start doing better NOW.

Congress is currently considering another round of funding. In the interim we’re committed to:

1. Continue to work our existing queue of applications. You are currently #XXXXXX. (We were only able to process up to #XXXXX)

2. Be honest and transparent in communication with you about your pending application.

We realize how vital and necessary these SBA Funds are to you and your business. Please know that myself and our entire team are working tirelessly on your behalf and on behalf of all the small business owners that we are proud to call our clients.

Thank you for being a Chase customer. Please know we value you and the work that you do. CHASE CARES and we promise to stand with you through these trying times.

Sincerely,

Jennifer Roberts

CEO, CHASE Business Banking

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Eduardo Placer

CEO & Founder of Fearless Communicators. Global Speaker. Social Entrepreneur. Hashtag Enthusiast. www.fearlesscommunicators.com