Safe branch banking during a COVID spike

How banks are approaching safeguarding public health in the branch environment

Despite Coronavirus levels that are higher now than when the pandemic began earlier this year, banks are not planning on widespread closures during this COVID spike. American Banker reports that large and regional banks are avoiding wide-ranging shutdowns, saying instead they’re “evaluating the situation on a branch-by-branch basis and relying on the safety protocols instituted in the spring to hold the virus at bay – and keep branches open.”

The new response for safe branch banking reflects twin realities: Consumers are already using alternate channels to facilitate many transactions, and banks (like everyone else) now know a lot more about the virus and what it takes to continue safely operating. Even as branch banking moves back into the spotlight during a COVID spike, the Financial Brand finds banks are implementing a  “measured and well-honed response.” While they will surely be responsive to extensive virus spread, for now banks are planning on staying the course. But that doesn’t mean they’re taking no action.

As major banks deploy a location-by-location strategy, now is a good time to reassess COVID safety protocols. Just as it was in the beginning of the pandemic, institutions need to help people feel safe as they navigate how to interact, transact, and consult with any changes to their environments. In the face of the current caseload, it’s critical for banks to revisit all of their operational safety standards, including:

  • Control Capacity – Use branch appointment setting and on-site operations to control in-branch volume. Know what local authorities advise and pivot accordingly, include mandatory masking. 
  • Update Signage Use – Reevaluate existing signage, including digital signage, and make sure it reflects acknowledgment of safety measures in place and updated for the current COVID spike. 
  • Maximize Existing Channels – Use customer channels you already have, like the drive-up and ITMs, to meet customer demand in a safe, remote manner.
  • Frontline Staff Training – Make sure your staff feel comfortable with modeling and enforcing current (and any enhanced) safety standards as community spread is on the rise.
  • Communicate with Clarity – Ensure members and customers know about changes in policy as well all the ways they have to access you through comprehensive communications programs that reinforce your brand’s values and your commitment to serving their needs now and always.

Be sure to stay tuned to Believe in Banking as we monitor and report on the latest developments critical to financial services during COVID.