Deploy the 3 Cs of Crisis Communications to Build Trust

If your organization didn’t have a crisis communication- plan in place, it likely does now, or perhaps it is in the works. COVID-19 has taken over headlines and consumers are shuffling through mountains of updates from every brand they’ve ever interacted with. But what about something as close to them as their financial health?

Now is the time to let your customers and members know you are there for them, how they can get in touch with you, and what the process looks like moving forward to keep their financial health in check. Banks, credit unions, and mortgage lenders need to remind their customers and members that their assets are protected, and they can still complete normal tasks, such as cashing a check, applying for a loan, or transferring funds from one account to another.

In a time of extreme uncertainty, consumers want to regain control wherever they can. For some, the digital world is a familiar place and have been using online banking for a long time. But for others, it’s an adjustment to their daily routine, and rely on communications that clearly outline next steps. These messages will provide a sense of relief and will help maintain customer and member trust.

Here are three key pillars to successfully communicate with your customers and members, guide them through these uncertain times, and reinforce your brand as their lifetime financial partner.

Clarity

Consider every possible message you have received in the last week related to COVID-19. It’s daunting to say the least. Clear, confident communications will go a long way to cut through the noise and support your customers and members as they adjust to the new normal. Now isn’t the time for ambiguity. Instead, be as transparent as possible.

Address the items they care about the most, including:

  • Everyday banking needs, such as depositing a check, ATM access, etc.
  • Hours of operation for online assistance and branches that remain open.
  • Payment assistance for credit cards, mortgages, loans, and more.
  • Customer service resources, such as online chat, call centers, and online applications.
  • Digital solutions that replace in-person interactions, including mobile apps and online banking.

You may consider creating a COVID-19 resources page on your website as Chase has done here. This serves as a one-stop-shop to answer customers and members most pressing questions and save them the time from sifting through emails and piles of mail to find what they need. Including the publishing date reassures them that the information is current and accurate.

Consistency

When consumers are experiencing heightened anxiety, consistent communications are just as important as clarity in your messaging to provide a sense of financial security. Set a communication cadence so your customers and members will know when they will hear from you and where to go if they have questions. Be mindful of preferred communication channels – while some favor phone calls, others may prefer digital access, such as email or online chats.

Consider every channel a consumer may land on. Are they seeing the same information across social, email, and website pages? If there are conflicting messages on any one of these channels, trust will immediately be eroded, and it will be an uphill battle to rebuild that trust even after the pandemic is behind us.

As you update your marketing materials, double and triple check the message is consistent. Taking the time to be mindful of the messages you are sharing with your customers and members will help ensure the longevity of your relationships.

Candor

Financial brands aiming to reassure their customers and members of the safety of their financial future should come from a place of candor. In other words, be open and honest. Get straight to the point in your communications and stick to the facts.

If you don’t have an answer right now, relay that, and let your customers and members know you are working toward a solution and will update them when one is available. Of course, you want to be empathic, however, it’s crucial to be upfront with the state of your business in order to be the most effective with your communications.

When drafting a communication, ask yourself:

  • Is the message clear and easy to follow?
  • Is there enough context?
  • Are the necessary details included?
  • Can any information be removed?

Take a candid approach so your message is understood, and your customers’ and members’ financial needs are met.

There’s no denying the unprecedented times that are among us. But in the midst of the chaos come equal parts opportunity. With clarity, consistency, and candor, financial brands can help ease the minds of their customers and members, build their trust, and position themselves as their trusted financial partner – for life.