In this period of economic uncertainty, banks should help minimize panic among customers by handling the crisis with tact and living out commitments to financial education. How you respond to customers’ growing concerns will matter both in the short and long term, as being a helpful partner now will build strong relationships that will last.
According to a coronavirus-related brand trust report from Edelman, 62% of surveyed consumers said they believe brands play a crucial role in combating the challenges brought on by the pandemic. An additional 81% indicated they must be able to trust the brands they patronize to do the right thing, and 84% said they rely on brands for news and updates about the virus’s impact, much of which has become increasingly alarming.
People are worried and anxious about what the economic future holds. But they’re looking at the brands they trust to provide calm, collected, and informative responses.
3 Ways to Be a Beacon of Calm on Social Media
The world is panicking, but the last thing customers need to see is the institution they trust to keep their money safe also panicking. Banks owe it to their customers to remain calm and offer support through these uncertain times.
As people fear another depression is on the horizon, the FDIC is reminding customers not to keep their money under the mattress. But if banks can be a beacon of calm now, they can keep their customers from panicking and — in the worst case — withdrawing.
In this time of social distancing, social media is the best channel to both reach and engage customers directly. The pandemic has created an environment of alarm, but banks can project calm in their social media communication with the following strategies:
- Be proactive.
There’s a lot of financial news flying around right now, and uncertainty around the coronavirus stimulus package is adding to the confusion and increasing speculation. Don’t rely on the government to communicate important information and updates that your customers need to know — your bank can be proactive and share that information on social media. If you make sure your customers’ needs (and not the needs of your brand) are driving content, you can reduce speculation.
For example, the fast rollout of loans from the SBA recently created a flurry of confusion around scarcity. Banks were left scrambling to process mountains of applications, and much of this confusion remains. You can proactively communicate the facts about these loans to your bank’s customers, keeping them informed about what you’re doing to process and fulfill them.
- Be responsive.
Even in pre-pandemic circumstances, 83% of consumers expected companies on social media to respond to their comments within 24 hours (or less). That’s the beauty of social media as a customer service channel: It allows for immediate two-way communication.
Those expectations are even higher today. Given that the majority of consumers expect that quick of a turnaround when they’re not in crisis, imagine how badly they need your attention during one of the most uncertain times in recent history. You may not be able to solve every customer problem within 24 hours, but showing up, responding quickly, and answering questions in full will go a long way in making your customers feel taken care of.
- Be empathetic.
When communicating with customers on social media and elsewhere, banks need to remember that this is a time unlike any other. Customers have lost jobs, businesses have shuttered, and no one knows what the economic future holds. Listen to your customers, reassure them, and remind them of your humanity. In the most trying times, empathy creates calm.
In the same Edelman report, 84% of consumers said brands should use social media to offer social support. To do this, banks can humanize their brands by carefully allowing individual employees to post helpful, informational content and create one-on-one interactions with customers. Your employees’ reassurance on social media can spread a lot further than anything you present on your bank’s company page.
Any messaging coming from your bank and its employees should be consistent, however, so be sure to provide employees with clear guidelines for posting on behalf of your bank. These guidelines should outline the tone and voice in which you want your brand to be communicating during this crisis. You should also establish an approval process to ensure the right people — such as leadership or compliance teams — see each post before it goes live.
With the ever increasing spread of alarming news related to COVID-19 and its economic impact, people are relying more on the brands they trust for updates and guidance. In an age of social distancing, banks must turn to social media to provide accurate, trustworthy information to help keep customers calm through one of the most unpredictable periods of their lives.