From Claire White, AVP/Deposit Services Officer

Due to the coronavirus, credit unions and businesses have been forced to adapt and change the way they interact. Remaining nimble and proactive during these changing times will help your credit union solidify existing business relationships and attract new business members. By taking the following six steps your credit union can better serve your business members now and long into the future.

Offer and Promote Products That Foster Social Distancing

Historically, 84% of small businesses rely on in-person visits to branches to take care of their banking. Lobby closures, reduced hours, and social distancing protocols have had a huge impact on business members’ ability to do their banking. Now more than ever, businesses need ways to manage their banking more efficiently, with a focus on avoiding in-person visits to branches. Credit unions need to evaluate their product package and expand products that offer remote access. The easiest place to start is with business online banking and basic cash management services such as ACH origination and remote deposit capture.

Provide Remote Payment Solutions

Remote deposit capture and ACH origination are two of the most critical products to help businesses large and small. Stand-alone systems that do not require online banking or core system integration are available, meaning it can be fairly quick to go to market with these products while planning other digital banking enhancements. Whichever system you choose, businesses should have the ability to originate debits and credits, upload ACH files in batches, create templates for recurring payments, and integrate with their accounting system. Look for an RDC system that allows users to deposit multiple checks at one time and supports a variety of scanners, duplicate detection, and late cut-off times for same day or next day availability.

Offer a Superior Digital Banking Experience for Businesses

Consumers have come to expect sleek and intuitive digital experiences and business owners are no different. Unfortunately, most credit unions do not offer a true business online banking system, and instead, try to use their consumer online banking system to fit businesses. However, businesses often have vastly different needs than consumers, which may not match what your consumer online banking offers.

Now is the time to further invest in digital banking. Key features include online account opening, loan applications, and end-to-end solutions for business banking. Whether you’re considering a new digital banking system or looking at additional features to add to your existing platform, consider how a business will be using the system. Can they set individual user entitlements? Are there additional fraud protection features available such as positive pay? How about tools for plug-and-play products like ACH and sweep accounts?

Security should also be a key consideration. Are there options to require separation of duties and dual authorization for remote transactions? Can the business owner get text notifications or other out-of-band alerts for secondary approvals or to notify them of pending transactions?

Adjust Transaction Limits on Remote Services

To allow businesses more flexibility in remote banking, evaluate and consider expanding policies and procedures around key transactions such as RDC deposit limits, ACH origination limits, and other withdrawal and deposit limits. You may also want to reconsider check holds or access to funds and overdrafts as needed to manage credit risk.

In April, Regulation D was amended to remove the six-per-month limit on electronic transfers and withdrawals from savings accounts. Credit unions and members alike have been asking for this change for years. The revised Reg D does not require financial institutions to eliminate or adjust transaction limits but leaves it up to each financial institution’s policy. Making these adjustments will allow your business members to conduct more transactions electronically and further reduce unnecessary lobby visits.

Use Fee Waivers as a Retention and Business Development Tool

Consider temporarily waiving fees for business accounts and services. Reducing account fees can give business owners some relief as they try to keep their doors open. Offering to waive fees for products such as ACH origination and RDC for 3 to 6 months is a great business development strategy. Businesses that use these products are more likely to stay with your credit union, and now is a great time to offer these sticky products at a promotional or reduced fee.

Proactively Communicate with Business Members

Businesses are still facing a lot of uncertainty. You can help by checking in with your business members and offering reassurance that you are there for them. Do they know about the remote solutions already available to them today? Have you told members about products you are researching for the future? This proactive communication is great for retention as well as to offer new, helpful solutions.

Also, give members more than one way to connect with your staff. That may mean expanding electronic messaging options or offering live chat features through your website. It is critical that your call center or remote staff have the training necessary to respond to complex business questions and transactions that are normally conducted in-person.

Taking these steps will help your business members today and continue to pay dividends by increasing member loyalty and the depth of business relationships in the future.

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