The developing coronavirus pandemic situation continues to send ripples of uncertainty throughout the American landscape, certainly including financial institutions. Fortunately for credit unions, however, we have a near century-long history of providing stability, security and safety to our members when it comes to their financial needs. Through depression and war, the credit union movement has served its members with both pride and admiration for working-class families and individuals.
Your credit union is doubtless seeing a rise in member fear and trepidation as the coronavirus situation continues to evolve. Given our history, we have a unique opportunity to continue serving as a bulwark against scaremongering and misinformation and as a beacon of hope for people when they need it most. Your members now look to you for reassurance about their finances in the midst of a financial and social scenario seemingly unthinkable a few short weeks ago. How can you best do this? By sticking to the credit union industry’s history of offering the previously mentioned three key communication points for members. The overall member experience during this time of the coronavirus will define how many people regard their financial institutions for years to come. Now is your credit union’s time to shine when it comes to reinforcing these three important member experience elements.
Credit unions have served as a vital part of the American economy for a century and will be here in the centuries to come. Reinforce with your members that regardless of the tidal wave of crises they may feel are bearing down on them now, your credit union has been there to serve them, is there to serve them and will be there to serve them. In a time of crisis, the human psyche is soothed by stability.
Members want and need to know their funds are both secure and accessible when they need them. Reinforce with your members that NCUA insurance on deposits is still solidly in place and will continue to be so. This is not a bleak time requiring a run on financial institutions and emptied-out vaults. Now is the time for members to know more powerfully than ever that their credit union is a safe place for their hard-earned financial security. In a time of crisis, the human psyche is stabilized by security.
Since its founding, the American ideal when faced with adversity has been one of tackling it head-on. When there is an enemy to fight or a fight to be won, Americans have shown time and again their unwavering commitment to charge that hill, take that beach, and fight until the fight is won. However, an unseen enemy like a virus is different. Now instead of charging an enemy head-on as a group of determined united countrymen, citizens are asked to fight in a different way; by self-quarantine, enhanced hygiene and phrases now firmly entrenched in the lexicon like “flattening the curve” and “social distancing.” Your members need your credit union now more than ever. Reinforce with your members the many ways they can interact with your credit union digitally, such as your website or app. Also, let them know – with an omni-channel communications approach – everything you are doing to make the branch environment as healthy as possible, including such efforts as deep-cleaning, hand sanitizer at every workstation and expanded drive-through hours (if this is something your credit union is pursuing). Your members must know their credit union is a safe place for them to visit. In a time of crisis, the human psyche is reassured by a calming message of safety.
The coronavirus pandemic continues to evolve, often in ways seemingly unpredictable and, at times, frightening. The best way to conquer this enemy is through unity, common sense and courage. For decades, credit unions have provided exactly these attributes in a financial institution, earning the trust of generation after generation of Americans. The way our credit unions respond to the current fight will, in many ways, impact how current and future members regard us for years to come. The member experience must be reinforced, not neglected, during this trial.
The current crisis we face now will prove no different. As we emerge from the other side, the American socioeconomic and financial landscape will certainly look different but we will survive. By communicating critical aspects of this, including stability, security and safety, your credit union can firmly entrench itself as the hero in the narrative of its members financial lives. Now is the time not for panic but for positivity, not for defeat but for determination, not for chaos but for community. Working together with your members, your credit union can and will win this fight.