I hope you are keeping safe and well in these strange times that we are living through.
It seems incredible that we have now been working with the impact from the COVID crisis for almost six months. As for many people, this has created a lot of additional complexity and challenge for us.
Our Customer Service
I am pleased to tell you that during the lockdown, we have managed to work successfully from home and all key services have been provided. Loans have been granted, savings deposits and withdrawals have been made, and a telephone service has continued to be available.
We have worked hard on our service offering during this time, and we have improved loan turnaround times significantly. In most cases we can now turn round a loan application within 24/48 hours. Some are even dealt with on the day they arrive.
I am delighted to share with you that August 2020 was a record month for lending. We lent out more money in August than in any other month in our entire history, breaking a record which had been set at Christmas time (which is traditionally our busiest time of year). We are proud to be able to say that we have done our bit supporting the families of Stockport to cope with the corona crisis.
Doing more lending also helps to grow the credit union which, in time, means we should be able to provide more services, better products, and improved technology solutions.
Our Brinnington offices remain closed to the public, but we have now started to return some of the staff to the office, although most of us are still partially working from home. It is good to be back as it is nice to have face-to-face time again. We expect to remain on a partial return basis for the foreseeable future as we cannot accommodate all our team at the office whilst social distancing requirements exist.
All the collection points remain closed and are likely to remain so for the foreseeable future due to COVID. We have worked hard to find alternative ways for our members to engage with us and we believe that this has been successful.
Members Experiencing Payment Difficulties
We recognise that these are really difficult times for many people in Stockport and we are here to help. If you believe that you are not going to be able to make your next payment, then please contact us as soon as possible. The sooner we know, the sooner we can try and help. We have a range of tools we can use to potentially help you, but we can’t help if we don’t know there is a problem.
Over the last few months, we have been trialling a new app called NIVO, which will allow members to start to engage with us on their mobile phones. We are still training our staff and cannot yet roll it out to everyone, but some members are now using it and are loving it. It is our intention to rapidly add more members to this over the next few months and we anticipate that in a years’ time, most of our members will use this rather than the current combination of website, phones and emails.
You have told us over the last year or two that you want a Member’s Area, and I am pleased to be able to say that we are about to deliver on this. It will allow you to do things like check your savings and loan balances and request a withdrawal of savings without needing to ring up. Watch out for publicity about this in the next week or so.
Christmas is also ‘coming soon’! Many of our members are telling us that they want to start their shopping earlier this year due to uncertainty about future lockdowns. We saw our first Christmas loans in August and, although we’re not yet seeing any more than a trickle, we expect to see more and more applications for loans arriving in the next few weeks. We are ready to receive your application at any time between now and mid-December, but we would urge you to not leave it till the last minute as we need time to process you application, especially if lots of people leave it till the last minute.
Stockport Credit Union has weathered the storm very well. We have continued lending throughout the crisis and our lending figures are about where we would expect them to be if we had not had a corona crisis. We have used the time to improve the service we offer, and I am confident that our members are going to really see a difference as they save and borrow with us in the future.
Credit Unions tend to be a bit of a ‘well kept secret’, but we don’t want to be that. We want people throughout Stockport to be aware of us and use us. Can you help us to get the word out by telling your friends, family, and colleagues about us? We would really appreciate your recommendations.
Stockport Credit Union