A year ago the branch of the future was all the rage. Someone would be sitting next to your customers with a tablet, serving them coffee and going over their financial needs on a couch right beside them. Things have obviously changed a bit.
Covid-19 has wreaked havoc across all sectors of the economy, forcing businesses of all sizes to reconfigure their strategies and game plans for the rest of 2020 and into 2021. As businesses are re-opening and life is slowly starting to get back to some degree of normal for people, Canadian credit unions are hard at work pivoting their branding and marketing plans- and making member experience a focal point- as consumer retention and engagement remain a top priority.
Online and digital marketing are now more important than they have ever been in history. People are home a lot more, and the post-Covid workplace is seeing a large new demographic of people being allowed to work from home. Canadian credit unions are being advised to shift their tactical plans to mirror this scenario; by taking advantage of low-cost internet advertising options- including search engine marketing ads, website SEO (search engine optimization) strategies, and social media marketing. More people are now using the internet and for longer durations of time- which has also fuelled a boom in social media use. Facebook and Instagram continue to reign supreme in the social media world- and credit unions can open accounts and tap into their massive user bases for free; while also having the option to run cost-effective paid marketing campaigns on both platforms. Video marketing is also an incredibly efficient way to reach online users; and communicate credit unions’ core values and messaging directly to viewers in ways that are educational, but also fun and appealing. A comprehensive across-the-board online presence is necessary in the post-Covid economy to showcase credit union brands and build user recognition.
Convey a clear message. With the increased competition among lending and financial institutions; cutting through the noise and appealing directly to the general public with a strong yet empathetic message can be a winning strategy that will keep customer retention rates high. Communicate to your existing members that your credit union has been by their side, through times both good and bad; and that you understand the difficulties of peoples’ current situations and will make their satisfaction a top priority- through enhanced customer service and low, favourable rates. In challenging times like this, people just want to hear that their financial institutions have their backs and are on their side- especially with the negative publicity surrounding the Big 5 banks in Canada and their perceived insensitivity toward their clients’ financial situations during the pandemic. Presenting credit unions as a viable alternative for consumers who have become disenchanted by the service and rates of the big banks can go a long way in gaining new clients in this present climate. Differentiation between the product and service suites of credit unions to those of the big banks is also a crucial strategy.
Member experience is king. Rather than looking back to doing business the way it was before Covid-19; modifying and optimizing member experience plus product/service delivery is crucial in demonstrating that your credit union has not only learned from this experience; but that it has also evolved– for the better. While adding the appropriate sneeze guards, floor stickers, and other essentials is important for the in-person experience; speaking to your team about how to make your members feel more comfortable going in to your branch to discuss getting that big loan is also an important part of offering an enhanced customer service experience. Also look at shifting your services electronically to offer your members more options when it comes to e-statements, online account registration and mobile/online banking services; as the post-Covid internet-based economy will be more dependent on this than ever before in your history. The “omni-channel experience” may not be a buzzword anymore.