Staying connected with your members from a distance

Turn on the news.

Open a web browser.

It’s all the same.

The onslaught of updates, opinion pieces, and debates about coronavirus continues to dominate national and global conversations. And, in many ways, rightfully so: this is the first major global pandemic in recent history, and people need to stay informed on its impact. With 95% of Americans now advised to work from home, we’re in new territory.

Effective consumer interaction has taken a sudden left turn. Many companies have nixed ads featuring images showing physical interaction, such as hugging or shaking hands, and it’s a move that makes sense during these uncertain times. Powering through with a campaign that either makes light of the situation at hand or promotes potentially hazardous activities comes off as either out of touch or insensitive.

For credit unions, there’s the potential to get stuck between a rock and a hard place these days. After all, exceptional customer care is a key differentiator between CUs and big banks. Showing person-to-person interaction within ad campaigns is a go-to approach for locally-minded financial institutions. At the same time, credit unions are particularly invested in issues impacting surrounding communities. So, how can you strike a balance between what’s friendly and safe in the current media climate? It all boils down to what you do, not what you show.

Inclusive, Not Exclusive, Language

While social distancing, it’s crucial to remember we are not alone.

Communications experts have a lot to say about this new era in the great working from home experiment. Particularly, they have offered key insights on how to maintain employee engagement when face-to-face meetings are off the table. Using inclusive language like “team,” we,” and “us” is a basic, yet effective, way to remind colleagues that everyone is on the same side. Successful interactions with target audiences can stem from this concept as well. Notice how many brand awareness campaigns are using words like “our” and “we.”—that is no coincidence. With these simple changes in word choice, companies can foster a sense of community without physical interaction.

Stop Kicking The Tech Can Down The Road

For a myriad of reasons, credit unions have a reputation for adopting new technology at a slower pace than other financial institutions. Some may say it’s due to a cultural emphasis on person-to-person interaction, but that’s of no help when trying to cater members under citywide curfews and statewide shelter-in-place mandates. If your branch is lagging behind in mobile, digital, or telephone services, it’s time to get your house in order. These days, it’s easier than ever to integrate features like digital chat rooms, e-payments, and even webinars into your deck of client-focused resources.

If you’re already packed to the gills in e-services, make sure your members know it. A simple email or social media post can remind people that a trip to a branch isn’t necessarily required these days. Plus, this has the added advantage of promoting social distancing practices. Healthcare workers and at-risk people need as much help as they can get when it comes to reducing rates of infection.

Update Early And Often

Things change quickly—especially right now. Make sure to utilize your social media presence as much as possible to let people know of any changes to branch hours and policies. Sharing credible, accurate information about your local presence not only prevents people from making unnecessary trips outside but also offers a subtle nudge to let members and employees know that their health is your priority.

Be The Answer

One of the most unsettling aspects of this current climate isn’t necessarily the facts and numbers coming at us every day—it’s the lack of answers. Questions ranging from “Do I have enough toilet paper?” to “What will happen to my savings?” are swirling around people’s heads minute by minute. This uncertainty can snowball into another type of contagious threat: fear. As not-for-profit, localized institutions, credit unions are in a unique position to stymie such an insidious issue.

From Wyoming to New Jersey and everywhere in between, we’ve personally seen clients use this time of uncertainty to offer tailored solutions to the changing needs of their members. Some have expanded their program for skipping monthly loan payments all the way from two to four months, while others are prioritizing their student scholarship programs. These proactive, empathetic approaches to financial help aren’t hollow attempts to curry favor with the masses—they’re real solutions for real people. For many, tomorrow has a lot of questions. See this as an opportunity for your team to be the answer.

Ben Prager

Ben Prager

Prior to forming Prager Creative, Ben worked with design studios, branding firms and advertising agencies to push great strategy and design for all his projects. His experience with all aspects ... Web: Details