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Physical Distancing Increases the Need for Engaging Communication

Physical Distancing Increases the Need for Engaging Communication

3 ways you can increase connections and confidence for employees and account holders

By: Richard Miller, Senior Executive Vice President of Sales

As we continue to navigate the “new normal” created by the coronavirus pandemic, uncertainty about personal and financial well-being is a major concern across the country. More than ever, account holders and your employees may be looking for answers regarding how this unpredictable situation will impact their finances, their health, their family and their future.

Following are three things you can do in all of your interactions with stakeholders to increase their confidence in your commitment to their overall well-being:

1.      Empower employees with vital information

There are a lot of conversations circulating online and through traditional channels—but knowing what is accurate can be difficult. Whether all of your employees are working remotely, or a few are remaining on-site to provide essential services, it’s imperative that they are all aware of the latest information that pertains to how they can better serve your account holders’ needs. 

Don’t assume that everyone is consistently paying attention to important issues that may change from day-to-day. This includes revisions or additions to the services you provide, changes in contact information or hours of operation, safe business practice recommendations or requirements announced by regulators and other government agencies. 

Providing your employees with access to timely and accurate resources—like the CDC, FDIC, Federal Reserve, OCC, NCUA, or state and local community websites—to keep them informed, gives them peace of mind and increases their confidence. In turn, this will also provide better resources for account holders who may be looking for a source they can trust when it comes to handling important personal financial and safety decisions. 

2.      Establish a system to support remote work environment

Staying in touch with employees and maintaining awareness of how the current situation is impacting them is key to ensuring healthy work conditions. The thought of working from home can initially have an appeal for many individuals—less time spent in traffic, being surrounded by personal comforts and a feeling of autonomy. But in reality, a lack of connection—along with the potential of interruptions by other family members who are also confined to the home—can create a stressful and often unproductive arrangement. 

Although you lack physical contact with all or most of your employees, frequent communication in the form of emails, phone calls and video chats can serve as motivators to keep the daily workflow on schedule and clear up any questions or confusion that may come with working remotely.

Utilizing video and/or web conferencing for virtual meetings and informative YouTube videos is an effective way to maintain a connection with everyone. These tools provide an easy format for sharing relevant information from leadership and allow viewing anytime to address different schedules. Just make sure that messages are updated regularly to maintain accuracy. And include some humor whenever possible to lift everyone’s spirits!

Importantly, as we all continue to adjust to this unconventional work environment, don’t lose focus on how essential your employees are to your organization’s success. Every interaction you have should reinforce how much you appreciate them and value their efforts to help your account holders maneuver these unchartered waters.

3.      Replace sales conversations with helpful advice

One of the most unforgiving realities of the coronavirus pandemic is that many of the people who will be most affected by the disruption in work schedules, job losses or illness can least afford the situation. But they may be uncomfortable asking for help. Demonstrate your commitment to serving their needs with useful advice on how to access the resources you provide to help them stay on their feet financially.

For example, if some of your account holders aren’t utilizing your mobile banking services, it may be because they aren’t sure how to set up access. Call or email them to see if you can help. Or, if you have decided to temporarily change some existing account procedures, like waiving fees, increasing limits on credit cards, extending loan credit terms or easing restrictions on services, make sure all of your account holders are aware of the modification through updated information on all of your communications channels.

If you notice irregularities in deposits that could be the result of reduced work hours or a job loss, contact the individuals to explain any service or programs you have initiated to help them weather this financial storm. Or if you see that some are making unusually large withdrawals, reassure them that their money is safer in a fully insured financial institution than in their possession. These simple reminders will go a long way to demonstrate that their financial health is a priority for your organization—not something you just talk about.

Other information you might share to help reassure account holders includes how to get money out of the ATM safely, or to be on the lookout for financial scams tied to coronavirus. For best results, make a commitment to continue this practice as conditions change to reinforce the value they bring to your institution.

Make reliable, consistent communication a priority

As we all continue to confront the effects the pandemic is having on our lives and our businesses, maintaining effective employee and account holder communication can reduce uncertainty and increase confidence in your institution. One thing is in our favor: There is no shortage in the number of channels we have to regularly stay in touch.

Whether your messaging utilizes technology through email, blogs, podcasts, webinars and social media posts, or more traditional phone message blasts, hotlines, traditional media and branch signage, start by determining the needs of your employees and account holders. Then, maintain consistent contact with them through reliable information that relates to their situation and provides the resources they need to successfully get through this trying period. The time and effort you commit to meeting their needs today will pay off with stronger relationships in the long run.

JMFA is one of the most trusted names in the industry. Whether it’s recovering lost revenue, uncovering new savings with vendor contract negotiations, creating more value, serving account holders better or delivering a 100% compliant overdraft service—JMFA can help you deliver measurable results with proven solutions. To learn more, please contact your local representative or call us at (800) 809-2307.                 


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