The early days and weeks of any crisis are often characterized by a frenzied pace of activity and ever-changing conditions on the ground. One crisis cascades into another and then another again. As new information comes out, financial institutions are creating speedy yet thoughtful responses to those emerging developments. However, once the initial shock of any crisis wears off, a new kind of midterm stasis or semi-normal phase begins setting in. Of course, we’re still in a crisis in the wake of a global pandemic, but as a society, we’re starting to see movement towards more of a maintenance mode as we #StayHome.
As essential service providers, financial institutions have a central and vital role to play in these middle days as stable, supportive linchpins of our society. How financial brands behave during this interstitial period has the possibility to further endear banks and credit unions to their customers and communities OR it can create a wedge. Following the 2008 financial crisis, banks worked diligently to begin rebuilding consumer trust in their financial institutions. Unlike the Great Recession, however, this current crisis is not centered within the financial industry, yet its impact may end up being more acute as it ripples across the entire economy.
For financial institutions at this moment, there are some key principles and best practices that can help them navigate these middle days of our new-for-now normal.
In the last week, banks began rolling out CARES Act lending, but federal guidance was unclear and banks had little time to develop processes and procedures around their lending packages before consumers came knocking down their doors. The end result was consumer frustration as bank operations were “pushed to the brink by stimulus payments.” While some big banks told customers to simply wait as they fixed their backend operations and expected a second wave of funding, smaller community banks stepped up to the challenge to help their communities now. These financial institutions were provided an opportunity to lead and they grabbed it.
This week a story came bubbling up causing a wave of anxiety for consumers and consternation for banks, following the news that federal stimulus checks were beginning to be distributed. Could banks really grab your stimulus check for their fees – overdraft and otherwise? Technically, yes, it’s not explicitly banned by the quickly-passed CARES Act. But did banks plan en masse to grab these needed payments from cash-strapped American consumers? No. This was largely a rumor about what banks could do during this time. In the last 24 hours, some big banks have responded, stepping up to reassure their customers that they would not seize these payments.
Once financial institutions have set up new practices in the face of the Coronavirus crisis, it might be tempting to sit back and wait for things to “go back to normal.” As nearly every publication writing on banking’s future has pointed out, there is no going back. Coronavirus is expected to permanently reshape entire industries, banking included. Will consumers ever go back to the branch? Or will digital banking take over, causing a wide-scale shuttering of bank branches? While there is no 100% certainty around predicting what’s to come, some themes are beginning to emerge. At this moment, what’s called for is clear-eyed leadership to help banking get ahead of what’s next. If you’d like to speak with one of our financial industry and crisis experts, contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Adrenaline is an experience design agency that creates and implements end-to-end branded experiences through creative and environmental design. We enhance our clients’ customer experiences across digital and physical channels, from their branding and advertising to design and technology in their spaces. After transforming an organization’s brand, Adrenaline extends it across all touchpoints — from employees to the market to in-store environments. And, we focus on serving industries that sell human experiences including financial, healthcare, sports and entertainment.