Community Banks Begin Navigating the COVID-19 Roadmap to Reopening

How financial services institutions are shifting resources to react to conditions today while readying their branches for tomorrow

One of the most common conversations we’re hearing among community bank and credit union leaders first is about how to shift resources now – instituting more digital channels, implementing branch appointments and augmenting drive ups – in order to continue serving customers’ financial needs during this critical time. Not far from anyone’s mind, though, is what the next phase of branch banking will look like in the post-COVID landscape. When to reopen weighs heavily on bankers’ minds. How to reopen is an even bigger question.

After more than a month of shelter-in-place orders with 97% of the U.S. population staying home, talk of reopening key consumer service sectors is starting to happen in states across the country, causing questions about safety as  Georgia and Tennessee and others open up. Surely, banks are thinking about reopening but how do you do that safely and seamlessly?  Muddying the waters further is the specter of the unknown with the health crisis still evolving. Planning for reopening your bank branches in the post-COVID landscape is complicated, especially when you’re busy reacting to current conditions.

Developing a strategy for responding now and planning for the short, mid and long-term future is not easy, but it is a necessity. To help bank branches begin to think through planning for reopening, we’ve developed a branch readiness Roadmap to Reopening. This comprehensive playbook addresses key issues in the new post-COVID banking landscape. Building upon the communication and safety measures undertaken by financial institutions during the pandemic, this instructive guide walks banks through all of the stages – from preparation to implementation – to return as a responsive and resilient branch.

Shift Communications

The first step on the roadmap to reopening is shifting communications. During the pandemic, financial institutions needed to use channels to communicate with clarity and transparency in order to ensure customer and community safety and operational efficiency. These same communications practices deployed during the pandemic will serve you well in the post-COVID bank branch. To be effective, your communications messaging should be calibrated and coordinated to address post-COVID realities, from practical issues impacting the customer journey to brand reinforcement and community connection. 

Utilize Existing

In this re-emergent bank branch, banks should be ready to repurpose the already existing changeout communications channels – whether that’s digital or static signage, in-branch posters or other collateral – and refresh it with new, relevant content. This is an efficient and effective use of these already existing vehicles to demonstrate how the financial institution has prepared for new processes the global pandemic has necessitated. Utilizing these already familiar channels to provide important information will help allay customer anxiety about how the new bank branch is operating.

The role of brand is amplified even more as we shelter at home.

Prepare to Supplement

Using what you have is undoubtedly an efficient way to begin the reopening process, but there will be additional needs for signage and other physical enhancements to the bank branch in order to impact health safety behavior like social distancing and inform customers of these new standards. As you’re augmenting these and other operational elements within the post-COVID bank branch, we recommend that bank leaders consider using this opportunity to evaluate, streamline and optimize branch merchandising and in-branch performance.

Deploy and Train

Key to success with these new processes is preparation and people. With safety top-of-mind, making clear-eyed safety decisions and protecting your employee so they can protect others will help ensure you reopen safely.  As you plan for changes across your branch network, it will be necessary to develop and deploy new measures in a low-cost, easy to implement kit-of-parts. As you reconfigure branches to safeguard people in and around them, staff will need to be trained on operating in this new environment. Learning and sustaining these safety behaviors will be job #1 for frontline employees interacting with the public in the new banking environment.

For more information on bank branch reopening in the post-COVID landscape, download our Roadmap to Reopening. If you are a financial institution needing advice and expertise now, you can contact Adrenaline’s financial services experts at or call (678) 412-6903.