How Are Credit Unions Bouncing Back After COVID-19?
There is no doubt that the pandemic’s ongoing impact continues to challenge many businesses. With widespread changes to working practice having been brought in as a necessity, and markets recovering from being turned on their heads, almost every industry is still struggling to navigate ongoing issues. Financial institutions such as credit unions have naturally faced many of these challenges head on.
Customers struggling with money is always going to be a challenge for any company in the finance sector. And yet, some credit unions are faring far better than others.
Here, we take a look at some of the positive workforce changes that have allowed credit unions to bounce back.
Adapting and hybrid working
Perhaps it is not surprising to learn that a change in working practice has been a big feature in how credit unions responded to the pandemic.
After all, the huge majority of businesses have had to find different ways to adapt to the situation with changing up the way they work being not only beneficial, but functionally essential.
Undoubtedly, one of the major changes has been the move to hybrid working. A poll by Willis Towers Watson found that more than 40% of businesses are predicted to embrace hybrid working by 2023.
It seems that credit unions are definitely amongst this number. Some organisations may have initially seen hybrid working as a quick fix that was likely to only be a temporary solution.
But, having seen how effective this form of working has been, there can be no doubt that it has played a role in credit unions’ ability to recover from the pandemic.
Selling credit unions
Of course, it is the case that credit unions must operate for the benefit of their members. Credit unions, it has always been argued, can’t serve their members if they don’t stay in business – so the focus has been on selling.
However, credit unions have been able to achieve success coming out of COVID by placing more emphasis on finding the things that they can do to help clients. Supporting companies has been a part of the business plan for those credit unions that have been more successful.
This is certainly the case for small and medium sized businesses. According to chartered accountants, Wellden Turnbull, 1.5 million SMEs across the UK do not have a business plan. Credit unions have been able to take a more rounded approach to businesses by providing them with constructive advice and support rather than seeing them simply as an opportunity to make money.
Personalisation of services
Just as supporting customers has been a big part of being successful, so too has updating services and offering something different. One of the major advantages of credit unions over banks is their personal touch, and the feeling of building a relationship between the credit union and the customer.
While some attempted to get by with mass communication strategies, the credit unions that have been able to respond best to the pandemic are those that have refocused their efforts around appealing directly to customers.
Understanding the need for personalised offerings that make sense for that specific customer is key to success is the squeezed finance industry.
Another important element of credit unions bouncing back from COVID-19 has been the use of technology. In an increasingly digital world, customers are looking for smart solutions to problems. They also want faster access to services, great levels of customer support and information at any time. These are all things that can be achieved more easily with greater levels of technology.
Many institutions have invested in technology for their credit union loans, such as eSignatures, to counteract challenges in not being able to sign documents in person.
Others made upgrades to their websites to be able to offer more to online customers who were not able to get to the credit union in person.
Pay once, send whenever suits you
For our credit union customers: By opting for an annual Signable plan, you pay once for the whole year, and get all your credits at once. This means you have full control of when you use your credits.
For example, if you see more loan applications during the run up to Christmas, but a lower amount through the rest of the year, you can choose to use more credits during that period. This results in less panic buying of extra credits when November hits.
We have seen that it is the credit unions that have been most responsive and willing to change that have been the ones that could be successful after the pandemic. For example, taking a joined up approach to communications has been key for many credit unions to get back to business.
“Even in a post-pandemic world, there will always be a lot to communicate about that doesn’t tie directly to products,” says Cameron Madill of Pixel Spoke “it’s a new competency that has been challenging for many of us to acquire, but it is increasingly vital for purpose-driven institutions in a world full of challenges”.
Meeting employees needs
Credit unions don’t just need to help their customers if they want to be successful – they also need to ensure they are doing enough for their staff. Keeping your team on side is a key part of being successful.
The credit unions that have responded well to COVID-19 have been more willing to go the extra mile and meet employees’ changing needs. Embracing emerging technologies, thinking differently about what your employees want and having a solid business plan in place are more essential than ever.
As we continue to face the waves of change since COVID-19, businesses who are best at adapting are bouncing back better.
About the author: Dakota Murphey
After working as a Business Growth Consultant for over a decade I developed my knowledge and experience extensively and now aim to establish myself as an expert in the field. I’ve contributed to a number of authoritative online resources which has given me the platform to share my voice with like-minded professionals.Writing independently enables a fantastic work-life balance, allowing me to travel and enjoy being a full-time Mum to my two amazing boys.