How are banks dealing with the Covid-19 pandemic?.

Emmet McEvoy

Emmet McEvoy

Search & Content Executive

21st April 2020Growth Marketing

The banking industry has been shaken to the core by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Banks have been forced into action to support individuals and businesses and combat the rise in fraudulent attacks.

Traditional banks were already adopting digital solutions but Covid-19 has accelerated the process faster than anyone could have imagined.

But how exactly are banks supporting their customers? How are people responding?

And will the banking industry learn from this experience?

Banks are supporting individuals

Covid-19 has affected all aspects of everyday life, but the major concern for many people is the pandemic’s financial impact.

Banks are at the forefront of public attention and, to their credit, they’ve responded. Measures of support have been implemented across the board.

Many banks have offered mortgage or loan holidays to customers. They’ve waived overdraft fees, increased credit card limits and allowed access to fixed-term savings accounts. They’re offering digital solutions as well. FAQ pages and real-time customer service on social media has become the norm.

Cybercrime is also a concern for people. Figures have risen as a result of Covid-19 as more people work from home. Fraudsters have upped their game to exploit vulnerable people.

Banks and financial institutions have teamed up to respond to the threat. Together, they’re delivering a ‘Take Five’ campaign that offers advice to help people prevent financial fraud.

The success of these measures remains to be seen. But in terms of support for individuals, banks have been on the ball.

Issues with support for businesses

Banks are also issuing loans to help businesses stay afloat as part of the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS).

But some issues remain. Despite the government covering up to 80% of the loans, just over 6,000 have been approved as of mid-April. Only around one-in-five applications has been successful.

Businesses have criticised the requirements needed to qualify for a loan, the bulky application process and the length of time some banks take to respond.

It’s clear certain banks have taken different approaches. The chart below shows the share of voice of the five main banks on Twitter in Northern Ireland for CBILS-related conversation in the last 28 days:

banks share of voice

Danske owns 64% of that conversation, almost double the share of its competitors combined.

Why? Because they’ve incorporated the CBILS into their content strategy. Danske knows business owners are worried. They’ve proactively embraced the scheme as part of their strategy to reassure customers while others have stayed silent.

As a result, Danske are gaining excess share of voice, which would normally require over-investment.

If we look back at previous financial crises, brands that gained ESOV generally saw growth in their overall market share both during and after the economic downturn. That put them in a position to recover more quickly and take advantage when things levelled out.

But how are people responding right now?

We used social listening tools to look at the same five NI banks to see how people are responding.

banks share of voice

In the past 28 days, Danske has owned the share of voice. They’re dominating the conversation, especially around CBILS.

CBILS is a key topic of conversation as you can see from the Wordcloud below:

banks covid wordcloud

Monitoring key topics as part of a content strategy allows a brand to proactively position themselves as a voice of authority by answering key questions.

But what impact does this have on public perception? Let’s take a look the emotions attributed to each bank’s share of voice:

banks emotional sentiment

Danske’s content answers key questions, and customers in general are reassured by their measures of support. Joy was their overriding emotional sentiment. Compare that to Santander who have been fairly quiet on the likes of CBILS and fraud. Anger was the overriding emotion attributed to conversation about them.

Banks need to be proactive. Negativity is inevitable in the current climate.

But they should use it to inform their short-term marketing strategies and show customers that their bank has their back.


Learn from the experience

Banks have had to adapt to the current situation with little warning.

In planning for economic downturns, bankers considered a 5-7% drop in global GDP to be a worst-case scenario. In reality, global GDP could drop by five times that amount.

Banks are having to provide support while mitigating risk to their own liquidity. It’s a delicate balancing act.

Some have adapted to the situation better than others. It’s fair to say that, in some cases, there have been some tactical and strategic errors in implementing measures of support.

But we can expect the banking industry to learn from this experience. This will change how it prepares for downturns in the future.

It’s not unrealistic that we could see another rapid economic downturn in the future. If and when that happens, the banking industry should be better prepared.

Change starts here

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