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Tango Card: Innovations Through Uncertainty

In “A Look Forward: What Executives Wish for America and the World in 2021,” Nat Salvione, chief commercial officer of Tango Card, discusses the innovations that have emerged since the pandemic: specifically, the use of pay-ahead apps and remote team engagement.

The year 2020 will definitely be etched in our consciousness for a long time to come. It has been a year of tragedy and suffering and also disruptive, positive change. It is impossible to reflect on almost any aspect of 2020 without acknowledging the greater geopolitical and cultural forces that shaped it. In the middle of all the uncertainty, however, there has emerged real innovation and my hope for 2021 and beyond is that these innovations continue to thrive. There are two specifically that I’d like to highlight for this eBook: the use of pay-ahead apps and remote team engagement.

Pre-2020 the experience around paying ahead for pickup or delivery was all over the place. It was not that long ago that ordering a pizza for delivery included that awkward moment where you handed the driver your card and they processed the transaction and asked for the amount of your tip. For an introvert like me there was always a moment of anxiety. It also wasn’t that long ago when ordering ahead for pickup at a retail location almost guaranteed a misadventure at some point along the perilous journey.

Throughout 2020, however, restaurants, retailers and grocery stores have had to innovate to be relevant. The experience of ordering and paying in a socially-distancing world became efficient and predictable — and we’re all the better for it. This past week I sat down in an outside tent for a quick bite. On the table was a QR code to scan and order (with all customizations available right in the browser app). The food came out and was enjoyable. I paid for the meal right in the app and left. The whole experience was safe, pleasurable and seamless. I’d enjoy that experience every time — even with no virus. It is clear that how we order and pay is critical for the post-pandemic world. Which brings me to the second area I hope not only continues but flourishes — remote team engagement. Prior to this year, some companies had already nailed how to work effectively remotely, but it was the exception and not the rule.

This year, with a lot of us working from home every day became our reality. This forced all kinds of innovation — the video conferencing app we use seemed like it was adding features every week! Figuring out how to keep our teams motivated and connected week by week proved challenging. Prior to quarantine we loved our happy hours … I remember in March as the social distancing orders were given, we thought it would be a good idea to replicate happy hour — but remotely. This involved everyone snacking and drinking at home — but with their cameras on. Needless to say, that didn’t quite cut the mustard. We had to rethink everything.

One thing we did that proved effective was to recognize and reward key accomplishments and employees virtually. This always involved sending a digital gift card for a delivery service or take-out restaurant. It took us several months before we hit our groove working remotely. Now that we are humming along, I hope this way of working continues. All of the innovations around infrastructure, collaboration apps and video conferencing truly helped. Looking forward, it would be ideal to have a daily choice to work from the office or remotely and both be equally effective. As we head into 2021 it is clear that we’re starting the new year with more uncertainty. One thing we do know though is that the innovations in the payments space will continue and help us through.

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