Is Your Branch Wowing or Worrying Customers During COVID-19? Try These Tips.
Even as financial institutions have offered various digital banking alternatives for customers during COVID-19, many people still want to visit branches and do their banking face to face. Especially for services such as opening specialty accounts or speaking with professionals about their finances, customers desire more than what online and mobile banking can offer. Banks are responsible for making customers feel welcome, safe and comfortable doing business in person as pandemic-related anxieties mount.
While many people appreciate being able to forge relationships with loan officers and ask bankers about rates and products in person, that doesn’t mean they don’t have any hesitations or worries about walking through a branch’s doors. After all, many people are concerned about their health and well-being during this pandemic, especially those in high-risk categories.
For bank customers already dealing with pandemic-related anxiety, an unwelcoming banking environment could make matters even worse. Dingy floors, low lighting, dust, odors and many other seemingly small red flags can turn customers off — potentially for good.
Recent research suggests that banking customers want to see visual, tangible proof that their banks are taking their wellness seriously. To keep people coming back to your branch (and feeling comfortable doing so), consider making a few changes to show you’ve done everything possible to limit the spread of germs and viruses:
1. Keep surfaces sparkling.
You probably already know you should be cleaning and disinfecting high-touch surfaces. The CDC recommends cleaning things like tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops and phones with soap and water first — and then applying an EPA-approved disinfectant.
Beyond frequent touchpoints, however, you should also address the aesthetic items in your space. Areas like windows and floors contribute to the “feel good” vibe of your area through customers’ visual perception. If customers see smudged, dirty windows from the parking lot, for example, they’re a lot less likely to feel like your space is fresh and clean when they enter. And if they do enter to find dingy floors or walls? Even worse.
Your service building contractor (SBC) can help you develop a maintenance plan to regularly address these areas and present a consistently clean-looking and welcoming space. Your SBC can even advise in-house staff on how to efficiently perform daily cleaning — including what products and processes to use and how frequently to perform those duties.
It may seem like a lot of time and effort to put into cleaning, but right now, there’s no such thing as going overboard when it comes to ensuring the cleanliness of your space.
2. Address the elephant in the room.
Display your corporate awareness around the pandemic so that customers know you’re taking safety seriously. One simple way to do this is by investing in entryway mats and other signage that remind visitors to wear masks and practice social distancing.
Entryway mats are a great way to demonstrate proper social distancing. Signage could showcase anything from the EPA-approved disinfectants you use to how often your floors are deep cleaned to improve indoor air quality. As a nice add-on, you can also set up a few stations complete with hand sanitizer and antimicrobial pens around entrances, teller stations and other high-touch areas. Also, keep extra masks around for customers who forget to bring them.
3. Take a no-nonsense approach to mask-wearing and social distancing.
Beyond using mats and signage to remind customers to social distance and wear masks, you should also be enforcing these rules by taking a no-nonsense approach at your branch.
Train your staff on what to do when customers flout your rules. Asking customers to put on masks or leave can certainly be awkward, but when you hold people accountable, you show other customers that you’re taking their health seriously.
During your staff training, address other key topics, too. These could include what to do if you find out a customer who recently visited a team member tests positive. Having everyone on the same page eliminates confusion and ambiguity.
Your banking customers are demanding more than low rates and innovative service offerings. They’re looking to you to protect them when they’re engaged in face-to-face banking transactions. Give them more than they expect by turning your location into the most pristine, intuitively safe bank branch they could expect.