The coronavirus brought many businesses to a halt nearly a month ago with uncertainty continuing to surround the impact of this pandemic. Many governmental agencies globally are encouraging citizens to limit their movement and stay at home whenever possible to help slow the spread of the disease. This has impacted our personal lives, but also greatly disrupted business at all levels. Pew Research Center reported nearly nine-in-ten U.S. adults say their life has changed at least a little as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak, including 44% who say their life has changed in a major way.
On top of that, the situation remains fluid. It seems not only day to day, but hour to hour, information changes. Everyone is scrambling to figure our next steps (don’t worry, you’re not alone), so developing a communication cadence and regular process to share updates is important. Right now, people are relying heavily on digital tools both to stay informed and communicate with customers, colleagues, family, and friends.
For credit unions, it’s important to keep communication flowing regularly and across multiple channels to help keep your employees, members, vendors, and community informed on ever-changing developments.
Reason #1: This situation isn’t normal, it’s global and unprecedented
Despite having business continuity plans in place, financial institutions are scrambling to maintain operating services in the least disruptive way possible for employees and members. Regular, ongoing communications help keep your employees informed and help members feel calm and taken care of. That doesn’t mean every question can be answered, but by regularly checking in, there’s the opportunity to maintain connections and continue to plan for what’s next. This could take the form of weekly corporate check-ins, regularly scheduled operations calls, team meetings, or weekly email communications to employees and members.
Reason #2: Employees are feeling uncertain
Implementing regular updates to employees can be a small way to alleviate some pandemic-related stress. Particularly, employees are seeking information about their jobs, business operations, and well-being support. This may mean regular email sends, conference calls, updates from leadership, team meetings, creating an internal intranet hub, posting regular updates on the corporate website, or some combination of communication tools. Additionally, it’s important to recognize the personal impact of COVID-19 and to communicate about personal health resources such as heathcare status, telemedicine resources, and prevention tips. Make sure messaging is clear, relevant, and redundant so employees receive well-defined takeaways and feel that they are being heard and supported, even as the situation remains uncertain and rapidly changing.
Reason #3: Members are feeling uncertain
There’s a lot of misinformation, worry, fear, and concern for what comes next. Members are worried about their finances, budget, lack of income, loan payments, and other personal stresses related to COVID-19. In addition, call volume may be higher which increases wait times, branches may be closed which reduces services, or new digital options may be implemented to help provide regular banking services. Credit unions need to take steps not only to anticipate what needs their members have and how those needs can be accommodated to help support their members, but to offer clear communication about what updates are being made, how they’re adapting, and how members can expect to reach out. This can help offer clarity and actionable next steps to meet members’ needs. Be sure you’re adopting a cross-channel approach to share these new updates to members.
Reason #4: Technology makes ongoing communication possible across channels
Meetings, corporate updates, customer service calls, ongoing business operations, and consumer support are relying heavily on telework tools to communicate. Along with daily staples—email, text message, and social media—the available technologies are endless: Cisco, Google, Zoom, Loom, Slack, Smartsheet, and on and on. Pew Research Center reports 93% of U.S. adults are relying on technology and internet to connect during the COVID-19 lockdown. With 64% reporting that while these technologies are helpful, there’s not a replacement for face-to-face encounters. However, utilizing your digital channels makes communication possible and an effective way to access your members, vendors, and employees. Make sure you’re pushing your message across channels for redundancy and ease of access to reach your audience effectively.
Operations, business needs, and member needs are rapidly changing as COVID-19 continues to shake up our daily way of life. Setting up a recurring communications plan across your available digital channels can go a long way to help answer questions, support your employees and members, and give leadership an opportunity to provide updates.
Stay up to date with corporate updates, resources, and information for clients from Allied Solutions at our COVID-19 resource hub: https://www.alliedsolutions.net/covid19.