With life as we know it indefinitely upended due to the Covid-19 pandemic, people want to be reassured that things will be okay. Specifically, they want to know that their physical and financial health will survive. Banks can play a crucial role in reassuring the general public about their concerns, but only if they are communicating and doing so effectively.
Here are four reasons why banks should be going the extra mile to provide consistent and credible communications right now:
Keep Employees Engaged
Your employees are one of your greatest assets, and they are under considerable strain right now. On top of doing their regular jobs, many with school-age children have suddenly and unavoidably become home-schooling parents. Those in the sandwich generation may also have the extra stress of trying to keep older parents safe and healthy. And like everyone else, they are likely worried about the long-term impacts on the economy, their jobs and their financial security.
Now, more than ever, employees need to hear frequently and openly from immediate supervisors, department managers and enterprise leadership. If you want them to stay focused and engaged with your customers and on their specific functions, develop a Covid-19 communications strategy that informs, but doesn’t overwhelm; that answers questions without raising more speculation; and that provides them with access to needed resources that can ease their current work and personal stressors.
Every one of your customers is worried about their money right now. Families wonder if they will have enough to pay this month’s household bills. Current and upcoming retirees ask if their retirement funds will still last through their lifetimes. Business owners are calculating if they’ll be able to pay their employees and other obligations, and ultimately if they’ll be able to stay in business.
A bank is a customer’s lifeline. Now is the time to make sure your customers know that their lifeline is secure by communicating with them as frequently and directly as possible. Put yourself in their shoes and think about the questions they may have and then proactively answer them in your communications, i.e., branch hours, contact numbers and processes for requesting deferments.
This will lesson customer frustration. It should also reduce the number of general questions your staff has to field, so that they can focus their efforts on specific customer situations.
Lead Your Community
Banks have always played a significant civic role in their local communities. If there was ever a time that your bank’s community needed your leadership, it is now.
In the words of Albert Einstein, “In the middle of difficulty lies opportunity.” This is not meant to be a cynical suggestion that banks take advantage of the current situation. Instead, it is the idea that this pandemic is a chance for banks to actively double down on their commitment to their communities by helping them through this.
When Covid-19 has run its course, the public will remember who stepped up and led.
Maintain Regulatory Compliance
Covid-19 has caused upheaval in almost every aspect of society. Amidst this chaos and uncertainty, it is vital that banks maintain their regulatory compliance obligations, especially now that more employees are telecommuting and more functions are being conducted outside of bank physical facilities.
For instance, in its Covid-19 FAQ for National Banks and Federal Savings Associations, the OCC reminds banks of their GLBA requirements: “Employees working from home should use secure communications, such as a virtual private network (VPN), when working with sensitive information.”
As you communicate with your employees throughout this pandemic, remind them of the continued need to follow your existing compliance policies and procedures. If such policies and procedures are updated in light of Covid-19, make sure those changes are communicated to all relevant staff as quickly as possible.
The Bottom Line
Frequent and effective communication is one of the key ways to weather this storm.
Does your bank or organization need help communicating with employees and/or customers? Get assistance today from a virtual freelance writer by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.