Financial institutions (FI’s) may find it challenging to attract and retain millennial customers. This group views their relationships with FI’s much differently than earlier generations. The methods FI’s have traditionally relied upon may not be effective with this demographic age group, now the largest segment of the population, bypassing the baby boomers.
Financial institutions that resist communicating in personal and relevant ways or do not direct interactions through preferred communication channels will find it more difficult to attract and keep millennial customers. When faced with messaging FI’s typically produce, millennials won’t perceive a difference between banking institutions and loyalty will erode.
Is it Only About Technology?
Of course technology plays a big part in decisions about where millennials bank and the customer experience they expect. FI’s that don’t keep up with technological developments risk losing the attention of the customers they want to attract, regardless of messaging relevance and quality.
Millennials rely on their phones as integral tools for conducting business. 47% of millennials use mobile banking, so a well-designed mobile banking app is essential, but so is performance. Millennials seeking hassle-free banking are quick to make a change if processes are complicated or transactions take too long to complete. 38% say they’ve abandoned mobile banking activities that took too long. For millennials, the customer experience supersedes many factors FI’s traditionally use to retain customers.
When they switch, millennials may choose non-traditional companies that lack lengthy financial service pedigrees. New players are competing for millennial business and social media is a powerful influence in directing them towards alternative service providers. Millennials aren’t shy about moving their accounts to untraditional institutions they’ve heard about through friends, influencers, and contacts. Millennials are 2.5 times more likely to switch FI’s than baby boomers. It pays to listen and engage via social media.
What Else is Important?
The focus on technology and usability don’t completely erase the value of traditional FI offerings. The millennial generation carries a lot of debt, much of it from student loans. Higher saving account interest rates or fewer fees still matter to this group that needs to stretch their paychecks as far as possible. Personal service continues to play a part also, with two-thirds of millennials reporting visits to a physical branch within the last six months.
Branch visits aren’t the same for millennials as they have been for older generations. Millennials value their experiences. They document ordinary events and share with friends and followers. FI’s may need to re-think the branch environment from a millennial point of view and introduce features and incentives to get their target customers into the buildings.
Interactive and personalized educational programs might be a worthwhile approach. 92% of millennials believe they don’t have the financial knowledge necessary to deal with upcoming life events such as buying a car or a house. Sponsored social gatherings coupled with educational opportunities can allow FI’s to connect with this audience in person.
Dealing with millennial customers can require FI strategy changes. They will need to partner with organizations that understand the trends and have invested in the technology to carry out a program catering to this group. Lack of loyalty is a double-edge sword. Keeping current customers can be a challenge, but wooing others away from FI’s that are not satisfying millennial needs is an opportunity for organizations willing to invest in a communications infrastructure that supports the necessary functionality.