There are several theories and studies on how habits form. Regardless of the underlying science or details, they each have something in common: it takes time and repetition. Using mid-March as the rough starting point, next week marks two months with COVID-19. Time enough for new habits to emerge, if not fully form.
As you are planning to restart lobby services, take it slowly and cautiously, but also be observant and curious. COVID-19 may fundamentally alter how members interact with credit unions moving forward. For you and your members alike, you may be wondering what—if anything—happens in the lobby that can’t be done via drive-up or remote services.
For now, the need to answer that question is based on reasons of safety and health. Plain and simple, reducing face-to-face interactions reduces the chances of contracting and spreading COVID-19. When interactions occur, they need to be done safely. The Lobby Services COVID-19 Prevention Checklist the League developed serves as an important guide to that end. It draws from checklists developed by the state, guidance from the CDC, collaboration with the Maine Bankers Association, your input, and other sources. While it is not an exhaustive list and will evolve as new information about COVID-19 or safe business practices emerge, we hope that it is helpful for your own planning and preparation.
Putting extra attention on one checklist item, it suggests that you “continue to encourage members to use drive-up and remote services.” This has been the primary, if not sole, experience for your members for about two months. Further, it will likely continue to be the primary member experience for the foreseeable future.
In one of our early COVID-19 surveys, we asked credit unions how members were reacting to your move to drive-up and remote services. One credit union responded “Remote deposit capture is booming. Many members who would never try mobile or online banking before are pleasantly surprised how easy and convenient it is.” For members like that and as COVID-19 continues, will they ever go back to their former habits or will the new ones they are forming now stick? If they stick, what will the new branch norm look like?
We’ll continue to explore this topic. As we adjust to the new normal in day-to-day operations, please stay in touch and share with me how your members’ habits and expectations may be changing in enduring ways.