5 Things Credit Unions Should Be Communicating to Members

Built trust with frequent, helpful updates that inform, educate, and engage

Members faced with the uncertainty of unemployment, business closures, and shifting financial markets are looking to their credit union to be their financial first responders. According to a recent Gallup poll, the more COVID-19 disruption members experienced, the less likely they were to report feeling properly supported by their credit union.

  • 76% of credit union members reported “a fair amount” or “great deal” of disruption.
  • 21% of members with “a great deal of disruption” strongly agreed that their credit union was looking out for their financial well-being.
  • 32% of members experiencing no disruption said they felt fully supported.

Frequent communications that inform, educate, and engage are key to establishing your credit union as your member’s trusted financial partner. Here are 5 things credit unions should communicate to build financial confidence during this turbulent time.

1. Updates on Your Operations

Clearly communicate across channels what you are doing in response to the changing environment — from branch closures to employee safety to increased call center staffing. More recently, it’s critical to quickly share your credit union’s SBA status and your ability to leverage the Paycheck Protection Program.

Ideally these updates should be short and sweet. Operational updates should tell members at a glance how your credit union is available to serve. A single-message email or one that is broken into headlines and bulleted lists will elevate key takeaways.

Remember, a one-and-done email isn’t enough. If you have website issues or high call times, a quick update to members is always relevant.

2. Key Current Events

As government relief programs quickly roll out, inform your members about the news of the day alongside key facts that will be relevant to them. The CARES Act launched quickly without a lot of clarity around how individual components would be executed – from forbearance to paycheck protection.

As a trusted financial partner, members expect their credit unions to translate these critical updates for them in concise, impact-driven statements. Educational messaging should be as detailed and as relevant as possible. Consider 3 easy updates and how and where they could be communicated to members.

  • A landing page, for example, could detail impact of the CARES act item by item and include a list of frequently asked questions to proactively answer member concerns.
  • A corresponding email, however, would be tailored to groups of members who you know will be personally impacted. For example, PPP emails could be quickly and easily sent to small business owners in your membership.
  • Even social posts could break down the FAQ content from your site into quick sound bites.

3. How to Access Digital Tools

While many members have adopted your digital tools, the knowledge gap between those who have not is quite large. Some members may have signed up and never used the mobile app. Others may have used online bill pay, but no longer have access to their personal “tech assistant” due to shelter-in-place restrictions. And of course, some members prefer the in-branch financial services they’ve been accustomed to and haven’t used online tools at all.

Regardless of your member’s level of adoption, a series of educational campaigns detailing how to use the mobile app, online banking, or even specific functions like depositing a check in the mobile app, will help members confidently navigate your tools.

Credit unions should also be communicating around access, digital bandwidth, and call center wait times. In our office, a credit union member received a late payment because her institution’s website crashed the day the government relief deposits were released. She then had to sit on a call center line for hours to remedy the late fee.

These issues are unpredictable and understandable as we all navigate this new “normal.” Credit unions that proactively communicate around service outages and long wait times instill confidence in the organization.

4. Assistance Programs and How To Apply

As your credit union deploys relief programs — whether it’s as standard as skip-a-payment, or as complex as the PPP — information around these programs is the MOST relevant to your members.

Your communication should be explicit so that members can quickly get the facts and know what to do next. Ensure each channel addresses these top three areas:

  1. What is the program?
  2. How do members know if they qualify?
  3. If they qualify, how do they get started?

Engage members who have applied with clear, confident communication about their status and next steps, both that you will be taking and what you need them to do.

5. How to Connect with Your Credit Union

Assure members that you are there for them. Make sure every piece of communication includes direction for how the member can contact you with questions or concerns. If you have increased call center hours, be sure your members know when call volumes are low and it will be easier to connect with you. One credit union even prepared their members with a list of things they would need, so the call center could quickly access their account and help.

Deliver Exceptional Communications

While it may seem that every brand and business is communicating with your members around this crisis, remember that as their trusted financial partner — your communications are what matters most! Consumers are stressed and concerned about their financial future, and your credit union messages are welcome and needed in this turbulent time.

Credit unions that meet member needs with these 5 critical messages — and do so with clarity and candor — will establish trust with their members during this critical time in their financial journey.