New years and fresh starts always seem so great: we get a “clean slate;” the chance to start off on the right foot, and it feels like we have all this time and freedom in the world to accomplish a checklist of new things or kick old habits. 2020 started off and seemed as though it would be no exception: same stuff, different year. Then for many of us around the world, that line of thinking quickly unraveled amid wildfires, murder hornets, and so much more. With each month seemed to bring a new challenge, and the global pandemic has continued to keep everyone on their toes. Credit unions and CUSOs have been no exception to any of these changes and have had to find new ways to roll with the never-ending punches this year has dished out.
There were quite a few advantages to working at a CUSO during this time: we’re essential, we get to see and have our hands in a wide variety of data for organizations all over the country, and for most departments, it was fairly easy to stay safe because we’re not necessarily open to the public and we can flex between working from home and coming into the office. On top of this, we get to hear from credit unions first-hand in a variety of regions and see how they react to the sudden changes. As I worked closely with our marketing team on the campaign programs between March and June, I heard one of two responses:
- Stop everything. We don’t want to move forward until things are back to normal, which will happen in no time, right?
- Change everything. Let’s adapt our marketing efforts to fit what’s going on in our members’ lives.
While I understood the thinking of the first approach back in March, you can probably guess that I favored the second approach. While plenty of credit unions hit the pause button and focused primarily on communicating with members regarding their branch and operations changes, there were a few credit unions that stood strong amidst the new adversity. Instead of halting everything, they moved forward with new ideas and refocused their efforts on financial relief and self-service programs.
Credit unions that had planned to market auto loans and checking accounts changed direction and poured their efforts into skip a pay program offers and self-services like Online and Mobile Banking, RDC (Remote Deposit), and eAlerts/eNotices. Most credit unions decided to halt all outbound call efforts, at a time when more people were home, had more free time, and would be more interested in hearing from their credit union. This blew my mind: we were no longer in state of being proactive, and almost everything I saw coming in from clients was consistently reactive. At a time when members needed consistency and reliability, credit unions simply sent messages saying, “We’re open in the drive thru, can’t wait to see you soon.”
Your marketing goals should never be completely dropped or tossed aside. Your marketing goals should be just as flexible and agile as the rest of your credit union operations. You need to be able to adapt to the changing circumstances and move with world events, or your members will jump ship to someone who is offering to help. Be the voice of consistency, the helping hand, the institution that is here to back up your members when they need it the most. Remember we were built on the idea of “people helping people,” and we need to live that every day, whether we’re on the phone, at the teller line, or behind the emails we send out to members.
At the end of 2020, we should be able to say we saved our members $x amount of money, skipped x amount of payments, had x number of self-service enrollments, and saw increases in these programs. As opposed to “COVID happened, so we met none of our goals.” Where will your credit union stand? Can Xtend and CU*Answers help you get back on track?