Humanizing Digital Services in a Post-COVID World
July 6, 2021
One important factor that sets credit unions apart from other financial institutions is the way they develop personal relationships with their members. Credit unions know their members as real people, not just account numbers, and they treat them as such. When COVID-19 hit and digital interaction became the primary mode of communication, maintaining those close connections proved a challenge for some.
As the country reopens and social distancing restrictions ease, one thing has become abundantly clear: Digital engagement is here to stay. Research suggests nearly half of credit union members don’t plan to increase their branch visits to pre-pandemic levels.
When credit unions increased their digital offerings amid COVID-19, members discovered they could effectively bank from a distance, and this newfound convenience increased brand loyalty. But is there a cost associated with the loss of facetime? It’s a question that many credit union leaders are asking. Now more than ever, it’s critical credit unions reconnect with those they serve in a personal and natural way.
According to a recent paper by Harland Clarke, emotional connections with members are more than warm, fuzzy feelings. COVID-19 changed everyone’s lives, and members likely have new and unique concerns about their finances. Whether a family member lost their job, they had to dip into their savings, or their expenses increased, chances are they’re looking for help. Now is the time to truly understand their concerns and engage with them one-on-one. Members will use several channels to address their financial needs, and often that engagement will begin through a digital channel.
“It all boils down to being committed to creating an emotional connection,” explained the Strategic Link partner. “We call it seeking to understand the person behind the [member].”
An important element of a successful digital strategy is the human component. With the increased use of online and mobile banking, there is a higher demand for assistance with those services. And while AI can solve some issues through features like chatbots, members usually want to speak with a real human being. A number of these interactions are likely to happen over the phone, so it is critical that staff members are trained, supported, and armed with the tools they need to offer highly personalized service.
Strong interpersonal skills — such as empathy, understanding, critical thinking, and problem-solving — go hand in hand with technical training to achieve positive results for your member. In other words, each interaction your member has with your credit union contributes to the impression of your brand, so you want to ensure you are re-earning your member’s positive feeling with each connection.
When it comes to establishing and maintaining strong relationships with members, Harland Clarke is here to help. As a leading provider of customer engagement solutions that help connect businesses and people how, when, and where it matters, the partner assists credit unions in consistently providing superior, world-class service.