ACTing With Empathy

The ACT Model empowers credit unions to respond to member needs with empathy and lay the foundation for stronger relationships in the future.

You’re doing right by your members as they struggle to respond to the challenges of the Covid-19 pandemic. You’re doing the difficult, necessary things, and you’re doing them for all the right reasons. But are you doing them the most effective and efficient way possible? Honestly? Probably not. That’s the nature of crisis response. It’s the best we can manage not the best we can imagine.

But even as we react to what’s happening around us, we can ACT in a way that’s affirmative, efficient, constructive, and reassuring. Doing that not only reinforces the positive impact of your responses, it also lays the foundation for closer relationships and a better future for your members and your credit union.

The ACT Model is an actionable example of thoughtful common sense, backed up by research into how credit union members are managing during this crisis. It’s designed to help you support your members financial wellbeing by responding to them in ways that reduce their stress and communicate your commitment to them. Developed by Gallup as part of the collaborative credit union program it is offering with Callahan & Associates, ACT comprises three simple steps:

Acknowledge your member’s emotional state.

Confirm your member’s needs what they are seeking.

Take action by communicating next steps and the timeline.

Acknowledge the member’s emotional state.

People in pain want to be heard. They want validation that what they are going through is difficult. Here are some examples of what this sounds like:

  • I’m sorry you are going through this.
  • This is very hard.
  • That sounds really challenging.
  • I can see how that would be difficult.

When someone chooses to open up to you, it shows they trust you. This is your opportunity to honor that and respond with care. Here’s what that might sound like:

  • Thank you for sharing with me.
  • I’m glad you told me.
  • Thank you for trusting me with this. That really means a lot.
  • This must be hard to talk about. Thanks for opening up to me.

Confirm the member’s need what they are asking for.

Members will need answers to various questions and solutions to various problems. As you provide those answers and solutions, do so in a supportive manner. Here’s what that might sound like:

  • How can we help you?
  • What do you need right now?
  • Let me make sure I understand exactly what you need. [State what you believe you heard.]

Take action by communicating next steps and the timeline.

Help increase peace of mind, build hope, and reduce unnecessary stress for members by making sure they know what you can do, when you can do it, and that you are there for them. Here’s what that might sound like:

  • Here’s what we are able to do for you today. [State what you can do.]
  • The change you’ve asked me to make will go into effect ___________.
  • We recognize your needs might change as this situation unfolds. Please know we are here for you.

In other words, pay as much attention to how your members feel as to what they need. Feelings are facts and validating them is powerful. Committing to ACT with empathy will deliver better outcomes for your members today and build stronger relationships for years to come.

For information on the Collaborative Financial Wellbeing and Member Engagement program, learn more here.

April 13, 2020

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