As concerns over the coronavirus (COVID-19) spread, credit unions have begun closing their lobbies and urging members to use alternative ways to access their accounts.
LAFCU in Lansing, Mich., is now opening its branch lobbies by appointment to mitigate the risk of spreading COVID-19.
“As an employer and public-facing institution, LAFCU believes it is our responsibility to keep our employees, members, and community safe,” says Kelli Ellsworth Etchison, chief marketing officer at the $747 million asset credit union. “It’s just the right thing to do.
“The decision was immediately embraced by employees,” she continues. “They sent emails to management saying they are grateful and proud to work for a company that cares. Members have also been receptive to the change, understanding that change is the new normal in this rapidly evolving environment.”
Members who require “face-to-face” interaction can use the credit union’s drive-thru lanes, which feature interactive teller machines (ITMs) that allow for two-way audiovisual communication between the user and staff at the credit union’s headquarters, Ellsworth Etchison says.
JSC Federal Credit Union in Houston has also closed its lobbies and switched to drive-thru-only service at its 21 solution centers, or branches, says Brandon Michaels, president/CEO of the $2.2 billion asset credit union.
While drive-thru services are typically limited, Michaels says the credit union has expanded its capabilities to ensure it meets members’ needs. Access to safe deposit boxes is provided on a case-by-case basis.
“Social distancing is key during an outbreak of this virus,” Michaels says. “Given the speed at which the virus spreads, we are taking precautions to ensure that our members stay safe.”
Today’s technology allows credit unions to continue to serve their members, Ellsworth Etchison says, whether that is through a transaction completed at an ITM in the drive-thru, on a mobile device, online, or using audio banking.
“Ten years ago, continuing member service in this situation would have been extremely difficult for any financial institution,” she says. “But with today’s technology, LAFCU provides digital options that allow seamless, 24/7 service to members.”