May 13, 2020

The Right Plan for Your Post-COVID Branch Experience

As stay-at-home orders begin to relax, it's time to start thinking about how re-opening branches will look based on your local conditions. When the doors open, you'll need to keep safety in mind and have a plan (and messaging) ready to go.

A Gradual Transition

Throwing the doors wide-open on the first day that restrictions are lifted may not be the answer for your institution. As many states will continue to limit building occupancy and require masks, maintaining by-appointment-only lobbies may be a necessity.

Online account opening, call centers, scheduling appts, video conferencing, chat, and more may all be a part of keeping staff and customers protected as you begin your re-opening efforts.

If this is the case for your institution, it will be essential to communicate to your customers where and how they can make an appointment, as well as continue to educate them on other means of conducting their business. Do you have a scheduling app? Make sure it is front and center on your website. A Remote Banking Kit is a great way to educate regular branch visitors on how to stay safer at home and still manage their accounts. Think about creating a guide sheet that outlines what types of transactions can be made using your various channels.

Security and Safety

Mitigating risk and protecting the health of employees and branch visitors will be the number one factor in any re-opening plan. An excellent place to start is with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) recommendations. These are updated regularly and contain the necessary measures you will want to have in place.

Beyond the most basic, there are additional factors specific to the branch that will need to be considered. Physical changes to the lobby may include creating floor decals that show proper distancing while in line, adding plexiglass partitions to the teller-line, and removing check-writing stations if they cannot be cleaned between uses. Small courtesies may need to be re-thought, such as providing pens only upon request and with the expectation they go home with the customer.

Logistically there will also be decisions to make that weigh the importance of health over security or vice-versa. Leaving doors open can reduce points of surface-touch contact, but may also conflict with security processes in place. Allowing customers to wear masks could make it difficult to recognize a regular customer or provide facial details of a robber. Institutions will need to determine how to best monitor for risk and educate their staff and customers on how to navigate this “new normal.”

Whatever measures are put into place, providing details of what precautions are being taken will ensure those staffing and visiting your branch feel comfortable being there. Provide routine notifications concerning changes or restrictions put in place. Make information available both through digital and traditional channels to prepare visitors on what to expect.

Communications and Messaging

As much as it may feel like Logistics and Operations are the big players at bat during this time, Marketing will have a significant role to play in a successful re-opening. Educating customers and employees on the new or temporary "normals" will become prioritized over promotional messaging.

Quickly conveying complicated information will need to take place with digital advertising, video, and animation, as well as through traditional means for those less tech-inclined branch visitors. Re-prioritizing marketing plans to show support and empathy as your community's needs change and demonstrating knowledge and understanding at a local level will provide unique opportunities to elevate your FI's brand during this challenging time.

Need ideas for the right mix of messaging and channels unique to your location and institution? Click here to contact Pannos.