This is a discussion about crisis communications strategies on the Banking Transformed podcast hosted by Jim Marous, with guest Steven Ramirez, CEO of Beyond the Arc.

They explore the challenges and strategies of crisis communication within the banking industry, emphasizing the need for banks to maintain proactive and authentic engagement with both customers and the media. The conversation offers expert insights into how financial institutions can effectively manage their communication in times of crisis.


Elevate strategic communications with a focus on customer experience

In an episode of the Banking Transformed podcast with Jim Marous, Steven observes, “I think that there’s been growing momentum behind better customer understanding and experience; that’s what I see as the essence of where banking is today.” These considerations become critical in establishing strong relationships that will help FIs to weather a potential crisis.

“It seems common sense that financial institutions would have a crisis communications plan in place at all times.”

– Jim Marous, Host of Banking Transformed

Proactive Crisis Management: Essential for Stability

Having a proactive crisis communication plan is critical. As Jim Marous notes in the conversation, “It seems common sense that financial institutions would have a crisis communications plan in place at all times.” Such strategies are essential not only for immediate response but also for maintaining long-term customer confidence.

Steven agreed, highlighting why it’s crucial for banks to proactively communicate their stability and reliability, while emphasizing why they remain the right choice for customers. Financial institutions have to highlight their unique value proposition, especially at times when people may be prompted to scrutinize their banking options.

3 Key Takeaways

  • Prioritize Customer Experience: Continuously seek to understand and meet customer needs through innovation.

  • Implement and Periodical Re-Test Crisis Communication Plans: Be ready for unforeseen events with effective communication strategies.

  • Maintain Authenticity: Align communication with your institution’s actions to build and maintain customer trust.

The Importance of Authenticity in Banking Customer Communications

Particularly during a crisis, financial institutions need to engage authentically. In customer communications, the message often gets bogged down with platitudes and bankspeak. Steven says, “I think what authenticity means is that you are believable. And you’re believable not just because you’re saying the same thing over and over again, but because you have a pattern of behavior that backs it up.” Consistent and honest communication, aligned with the institution’s actions, is key to building trust.

Full-Spectrum Communication Strategy

Communication needs to be omnipresent. This means delivering a clear and consistent message with every tool at your disposal – from emails and social media to internal communications and press relations. Steven and Jim agree that every single customer touchpoint should echo a commitment to transparency and reassurance.

Many banks and financial institutions fail to consistently engage with the press, often limiting their interactions to self-promotion. This lack of regular, genuine communication leads to a credibility gap. When issues arise, these institutions struggle to earn the press’s trust and have their statements believed, underscoring the need for ongoing, authentic engagement with the media.

Steven and Jim argue for an openness and transparency, with Steven saying “sometimes that can be uncomfortable…you can be on the hot spot. But that fades away very quickly when you realize how it reinforces the trust and the relationship with all of your key stakeholders.” Jim followed up by noting, “What’s very clear here is that those organizations that haven’t done a really good job of being empathetic, of being authentic, of being transparent, are really working from a major disadvantage”

Crisis Communication: A Three-Phased Approach

A robust crisis communication plan should encompass pre-crisis preparation, active crisis response, and post-crisis analysis. Steven argues that a comprehensive crisis communication plan ensures that stakeholders get the information they need and can lessen the negative consequences of an event. He encourages financial institutions to consider an external adviser to assess a current plan and help to strengthen it, “I think that the why you need someone to advise you on strategy is getting the right message, to the right channel, so that it reaches the right people.”

Conclusion: Moving Forward

The insights from Steven Ramirez and Jim Marous shed light on the necessary steps for banks and financial institutions. They underscore the importance of focusing on customer experience, establishing comprehensive crisis communication frameworks, and prioritizing authenticity in all customer interactions. By adhering to these principles, financial institutions can effectively navigate challenges and solidify their role as trusted advisors in the financial sector.

Need fresh approaches for your crisis management communications? At Beyond the Arc, we’ve helped create strategic communications for a Top 5 bank — can we help you too? Let’s talk about what you need >

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