The COVID-19 (Coronavirus) has brought with it a whole new set of unexpected challenges for businesses and individuals around the world. Credit unions, known for your commitment to your communities, have a unique set of pressures and challenges in serving your members and employees.
Lumin Digital recently hosted a virtual meet-up of our current clients to allow them to share ideas, experiences, and help each other work through these difficult challenges. What follows are some of the themes and recommendations they shared and that you may be able to utilize in your community.
Focus On Communication
In such unusual times, fear, anxiety, and isolation are very common feelings. Staying in touch with your members, sharing steps you are taking to ensure business continuity, and how you’re working to continue to prioritize their health is extremely important and can help relieve some of the anxiety they may be experiencing.
Email, social channels, and digital banking channels are all great tools to not only share what you are doing but opening up a channel for your members to share what concerns they have as well. Call-center volume often increases when members aren’t able to access in-person banking, so offering other channels for communication can help relieve that burden as well.
Developing a specific webpage with FAQ’s related to the accommodations your credit union has made is a great way to keep the most updated information all in one place for members to reference.
COVID-19 has forced us to limit in-person interactions as much as possible, placing pressure on credit unions to provide creative solutions to alternative methods of serving their members. Many credit unions are limiting access to lobbies (requiring an appointment so they can limit large groups). Allowing members to make appointments via digital channels is also a great way to increase access to more people.
Additionally, digital banking platforms offer a great deal of opportunity for credit unions to use. Offering services such as remote deposit capture and other virtual services allow your members to conduct their transactions without needing to visit your branches in person.
Finally, many credit unions are leveraging secure messaging channels to assist their members virtually. Texting, video-calls, and other channels can help keep that community feeling for your members without them having to make an in-person appointment.
Support Vulnerable Populations
As a credit union, your commitment to your communities and your members, and there is never a time where that is more important than in times of crisis. Credit unions serve a diverse group of members, such as the elderly, and those with less access to large savings reserves.
Many credit unions are offering “missed payment” forgiveness programs, or are offering 0% financial assistance loans with a 90 day grace period before the first payment for those in financial distress caused by an inability to work during these times. While it is important to keep your credit union financially strong, offering innovative programs for those in your community that is in need is a crucial part of the credit union ethos.
Work Remote – Creatively
Our credit union clients shared that up to 70% of their workforces are working remotely (more in communities with stricter isolation recommendations). But remote work isn’t a common practice for many credit unions and can feel strange and challenging for those who don’t practice it regularly.
There are many innovative communication tools available that help remote work feel less isolating and can improve productivity. Zoom is a great system for remote meetings and communication and offers plenty of tips on managing meetings and gatherings remotely. Slack is an instant-messaging platform that allows groups to communicate throughout the day quickly, and also offers video conferencing as needed.
Also, remember that your employees are also dealing with stress and uncertainty during this time, and building community is just as important when employees are working remotely (sometimes even more so). Offering virtual huddles throughout the day can help break the feeling of isolation. Don’t be afraid to be creative and find ways to bring fun to the day. Some companies organize spirit weeks, with special days for fun activities such as “crazy hat day”, or “silly mug day”, as ways to unite the teams from wherever they are.
At Lumin Digital we have worked with a distributed workforce since our first day in business, so we understand both what can make it work for your teams, and some of the common pitfalls and how to avoid them.
As always – we’re happy to help support your teams in any way we can during these challenging times.
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