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Management in the Time of Coronavirus: Customer, Client and Member Communication

March 31, 2020
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As America adapts to upended social and professional norms due to COVID-19, many are anxious about a multitude of things, including their financial well-being. This is an opportunity for financial institutions to build trust, by reassuring customers, clients and members that their institution is both financially sound and ready to assist them in their day-to-day lives. 

At Raddon, in addition to researching the impact of COVID-19 on financial institutions, we are leveraging our collective decades of experience and ongoing interaction with more than 300 banks and credit unions to share best practices to help you.

From our survey program, Raddon has seen a correlation between loyalty and strong, two-way communication between institutions and their customers, clients and members. The chart below depicts how financial institutions – credit unions in the example – with higher loyalty from members delivered stronger financial performance and loan growth following a period of recession.

It has been nearly 12 years since the last financial crisis affected the American consumer and business community. In the last recession, those institutions that communicated more consistently with their customers, clients and members performed better financially than those that did not. We also saw that those highly communicative institutions did a better job of retaining customers, clients and members, and their balances.

Based on our experiences and the experiences of our clients, Raddon has gathered best practices to help you communicate with your accountholders. Providing clear communication across all channels can not only help to assuage any fears accountholders may have about their institution’s financial strength, it can also reassure them you are there to support them in the  new normal and potentially challenging financial times.

Target Your Message

Keep your customers, clients and members abreast of important updates about their account, safety and security measures, and capabilities your financial institution has available to ensure they can access their funds and get assistance for their financial needs.

It is critical to establish a detailed communication plan that identifies the audience for  the messaging, the message itself, a call to action and timelines so you avoid gaps or overlap in communication.

Always target your message based on the recipient’s product and delivery channel access, usage and needs. Use direct marketing and point-of-contact marketing for more effectiveness.

Finally, it is extremely important to thank your accountholders for their trust, loyalty and support.   

Choose the Right Platform

Provide consistent updates to your communities and keep your public website and social media channels active. Real-time alerts can deliver critical updates via email, text message or mobile push notification, based on preferences set by accountholders. Be sure to use texting and emails judiciously so as not to overload your audience but to provide relevant and timely information based on daily events. Updates, such as new cleaning processes to keep branch visitors safe, also can be broadcast through in-branch signage, social media posts, updates to scripted phone menus, account statements and website banners.

Multiple methods also should be considered for communicating digital options for accountholders to manage their financial tasks from home. Video tutorials and e-learning options can help first-time users become comfortable using a mobile app. Adding instant messaging support options can provide a quick alternative for staff to answer questions and troubleshoot issues.

Social media can be an important platform to keep you in touch with your customers, clients and members. Add a personal touch by posting video interviews with a member of the senior management team outlining the institution’s activities and actions. By updating these video interviews either daily or every other day, you can strengthen your connection with your audience.

Closely craft your message, making it reassuring, cogent and brief. Be mindful of the optics; test the look and feel of your location and background.

Be Decisive

Being decisive can help provide comfort to your customers, clients and members. Of course, it is still important to explore and develop ideas before taking action, but there should be a strong sense of urgency in your decision-making process. Now is the time for strong leadership and not process-laden decision-making by committee. Make the financial institution’s C-level staff accessible to customers, clients and members.

Don’t hesitate to act. Be proactive in offering financial counseling services to your accountholders; contact those who may be heading into delinquency.

When creating and implementing your external communication plan, consider the audience and your organization, as well as any compliance requirements as you quickly navigate this new environment.