8 tips for communicating effectively with members remotely
There’s no way around it—communicating via remote channels can be awkward. Social distancing measures put in place to help slow the spread of COVID-19 have created communication obstacles for credit unions in 2020. There are more potential distractions and technical difficulties to overcome when you’re speaking via phone or video chat, and not being able to pick up on the nuances of non-verbal communication is challenging. In this article, we’ll give you some tips for communicating effectively with your members remotely.
- Do a Test Run
Technology has been a critical element of remote communication, but technical difficulties can make this a frustrating experience. Before connecting with a member, try doing a test call to ensure your camera and microphone are working well. This will help ensure the virtual conversation goes smoothly and is not interrupted with, “Can you hear me now?”
- Over Communicate
The lack of traditional structure that comes with remote communication can lead to confusion and misunderstandings. Overcoming that communication gap is critical to ensuring a smooth experience. When you have someone’s attention, take advantage of that time by over-questioning, over-explaining, and over-documenting those conversations.
- Establish Multiple Communication Touch-Points
Having regular communication touch points using multiple channels can help borrowers make a substantial difference in their members’ experience.
- Check for Comprehension
Typically, when you sit down with a member to review important loan documents, there is space in the conversation to ensure they thoroughly understand the information you are going over. In the absence of these nuanced non-verbal communication cues, you’ll need to do verbal checks for comprehension throughout your conversation.
- Ask for Communication Preferences
Consumers have varying preferences when it comes to communicating and interacting with their lenders. Phone calls, virtual meetings, emails, and text messages are all communication channels members expect to be available. Consistency and redundancy across multiple channels is an important part of a broad communication strategy, as some members will prefer one method while others may require multiple contact methods to gain top-of-mind awareness.
- Watch Your Tone
Verbal expressiveness and tone of voice play an essential role in communication. If you’re communicating via phone or video call, ensure you speak with warmth and enthusiasm, just like you would do in an in-person meeting. When it comes to emails, make sure you choose your words carefully so your communication sounds heartfelt and friendly, while still conveying the information you need to cover.
- Reach Your Account Holders on Digital Channels
According to the Carpenter Group, “Shelter-in-place orders have fueled media consumption, with internet use increasing by as much as 70% and streaming by up to 12%.”
Today’s consumer expects to be able to interact with their financial institution through digital channels. According to Pew Research, “The vast majority of Americans – 96% – now own a cellphone of some kind. The share of Americans that own smartphones is now 81%. Along with mobile phones, nearly 3/4 of U.S. adults now own desktop or laptop computers, while roughly 1/2 now own tablet computers, and roughly 1/2 own e-reader devices.”
In order to effectively reach your members, your credit union must create tools and services that are digitally accessible. You should envision your mobile or online experience as an extension of your member service. Your digital experience should be a seamless brand extension of your overall member service experience.
- Shift Your Messaging to Peace of Mind
As we progress toward an uncertain “new normal,” credit unions are facing new challenges in a market of anxious consumers. Reassuring members you are going to be there for them, and support them if they encounter financial hardships is an essential messaging strategy going forward. Positioning products that are genuinely helpful to your members will keep your messaging from coming across as tone-deaf or too “salesy.”
For example, SWBC’s MPOWER+ Vehicle Return Protection helps give members the peace of mind that if they run into hard times, they can return their vehicle and walk away from their loan while keeping their savings and credit rating intact. Offering this option to your members can help increase confidence in their long-term financial security and will encourage them to build a long-lasting relationship with your institution.
SWBC’s MPOWER+ Vehicle Return Protection offers financial security for your members while helping your institution manage risk, generate non-interest income, and increase member loyalty. Visit our website to learn more.