Blue FCU is reopening its branches a couple at a time, with protective measures in place for physical safety and brand culture reinforcement.
Culture managers are helping to ensure social distancing among members and staff as a new reality takes hold.
CU QUICK FACTS
HQ: Cheyenne, WY
Data as of 03.31.20
12-MO SHARE GROWTH: 23.9%
12-MO LOAN GROWTH: 7.6%
Blue Federal Credit Union ($1.3B, Cheyenne, WY) wants to make sure members don’t see red when they enter one of their credit union’s 16 branches in Wyoming and Colorado, so “culture managers” will be there to help greet them as the cooperative restores normal operations in this new reality.
The cooperative’s 16 branch lobbies are reopening a couple at a time in an operational wave Blue projects will be completed by Memorial Day.
On a dedicated webpage, the credit union lays out the progress of its branch openings and highlights the heartfelt greeting members will receive instead of a handshake. Extensive protective measures also will be in place, including floor decals indicating where to stand and face masks staff must wear while interacting with members or one another.
Here, Jordan Pretty, vice president of member services at Blue FCU, describes how the credit union he’s served for 10 years is handling member service since COVID-19 dramatically changed operations and how some semblance of normalcy is returning.
When did Blue FCU close its lobbies?
Jordan Pretty, Vice President of Member Services, Blue FCU
Jordan Pretty: We ended normal operations on March 19 but adjusted our banking functions through a hub model with priority branches established geographically across our footprint. Of our 270 employees, 171 were deployed to work from home.
What kinds of services did you continue at the branches?
JP: At the seven locations that remained open, we provided drive-thru and lobby traffic by appointment. Two additional locations delivered services through our ITMs. We expanded service offerings through the drive-thru to ensure we provided exceptional service to our members.
What kind of staff accommodations did you make because of the pandemic?
JP: Before the Families First Coronavirus Response Act was enacted, we provided five days of catastrophic pay to any staff member that needed to stay home due to illness of any kind, encountered issues with childcare, or had recently traveled outside of our branch footprint. Now we follow FFCRA guidance, with catastrophic pay still available for certain circumstances that are not included within that law, such as travel.
Did you have any positive tests that you know of among your staff?
JP: To my knowledge we have not had any staff members test positive for the coronavirus.
BLUE’S SERVICE DELIVERY CONTINUITY PLAN
Management at Blue FCU has created a detailed service continuity plan to guide the safe and efficient reopening of branch lobbies. Click here to see it.
What are your plans for bringing back employees?
JP: We’re reopening branches in waves with roughly two branches opening per day. In the days between waves, we are bringing support staff back on site based on position utility. Roughly 50% of support staff will continue working remotely until we enter the next phase of recovery.
What are your plans for opening lobbies? What measures will be in place to protect members and staff?
JP: We completed a review of each facility and determined the maximum number of staff and members that could be on site at any time while adhering to social distancing protocols. We’re requiring all staff members to wear cloth masks while interacting with co-workers and members, and we’ve provided face shields to all member-facing staff members.
Our marketing team created collateral outlining the importance of social distancing, demonstrating our new “handshake” consists of tapping our heart twice, and acknowledging that our staff members will be wearing the cloth masks.
A new sign at Blue FCU explains the alternative to a handshake branch visitors can expect. To view a larger version, click here.
Floor decals show members where to begin the journey to the teller line at this Blue branch in Bloomfield, CO.
Blue FCU uses floor decals to safely spread members once they arrive at the teller windows.
A close-up look at the messaging on the floor graphics the Wyoming credit union is using in its branches.
When members enter a Blue FCU branch, signage like this explains what’s going on. To view a larger version, click here.
Why are you requiring members to wear masks while in the branch?
JP: We ask that members adhere to applicable state and county guidelines. A number of our branches are in areas where local officials have mandated that individuals wear masks anytime they’re entering a business. For jurisdictions that don’t require masks, we continue to advocate for face coverings and have provided bandannas that our members can use and keep in all locations.
How will you control traffic in the branch?
JP: For staff, in limited space areas such as breakrooms and restrooms we’ve established “two’s a crowd” collateral and guidance. For meetings, our guidance is that video conferences are the best practice and that staff should not congregate in groups of more than 10 regardless of physical room size.
Regarding our branches, we measured and reviewed our individual layouts based on branch square footage and identified the maximum number of members that can be within the facility at one time.
Our culture managers support this process.
What are culture managers?
JP: This is a new function. We have two at each branch: the manager and a staff member.
We wanted to ensure the title carried the prominence it deserved while ensuring it clearly outlined the objective, which is to proactively ensure we are adhering to healthy practices while not detrimentally impacting the culture that we hold so dear.
Refine your credit union's response to COVID-19 using the Ideas In Action: Pandemic Response page, a hub for all of our articles, webinars, and policies concerning the COVID-19 outbreak.
What kind of surges did you see in digital banking and ITM use?
JP: We observed an increase across our digital channel. There was an increase in mobile deposit, contact center call volume, online chat volume, and, especially notable, a 300% increase in ITM activity.
What is the possibility, or desirability, of continuing these non-branching behaviors in the future?
JP: I believe members will continue to enjoy the convenience they discovered within our digital channel. But, I believe our members will continue to desire the personal service level they receive by working with our outstanding staff.
How has your staff responded to the changes? What have you learned that you can carry forward from this experience?
JP: We deployed a number of branch staff members to work in the contact center, and I believe the enhanced service levels we were able to provide via a unified operational model will continue. Staff members that had worked in the branches really enjoyed being able to interact with our members in new ways (such as chat), and they have indicated they feel empowered by the expanded horizon afforded by the shift in functional approach to assisting our members.
This interview has been edited and condensed.