One of the biggest characteristics preached when it comes to Gen Y is how we like convenience.
We like information at our fingertips, and we like to see immediate results. One of the problems with delivering convenience is that technology is changing so rapidly. In order to really deliver convenience, your credit union has to constantly be looking to keep up.
When approached with the issue of Gen Y, many credit unions insist that they are proactive. They site various types of accounts and services like mobile banking and mobile apps as proof of their proactive approach.
Last week I tried to download the mobile banking app from my bank to my BlackBerry. I got a message, "This application is not available on your device or for your carrier."
And this kind of disconnect is not limited to financial services.
I recently received a great gift. The Nike sport kit that connects to your iPod. Nike makes a device that attaches to your sneaker that tracks the miles you run, your pace, the calories your burn and helps you create work outs for yourself and shows it all on your iPod. When I opened it and went to set it up I found out that the device is only compatible with certain iPods and the two I own don't make the list. In order to use it I would have to buy a third, and brand new, iPod.
Technology doesn't always equal convenience. Just having a mobile app for your credit union does not mean that you can check off convenience on your list to gain Gen Y members and give yourself a pat on the back.
Delivering on convenience is a never ending job. There are questions that need to be asked constantly at your credit union.
What devices are compatible with the app you offer? What phone devices do the majority of your members use? How can your credit union still reach those other members with devices that are not compatible with your app? What are the newest types of phone devices?
These are questions your employees should constantly be asking.
Convenience also isn't a blanket effort. What is convenient for some members isn't always convenient for others. There are always going to be members that you can't completely satisfy. Learn to pick your battles, and the most important thing is to know your members.
Know the type of convenience that matters the most to them.
Not being able to use my bank's mobile app is frustrating, but for me it is not a deal breaker. Convenience is the fact that my bank's branch is located directly next door to my office, five blocks from my home and is open late.
Putting a blanket over Gen Y and saying that having online banking and a mobile app is the convenience we are looking for is a dangerous move.
I only switched to a BlackBerry a few weeks ago. Before that, I had a regular cell phone and never used mobile banking.
I'm not downplaying the need for technology. My generation is extremely tech-savvy. I am most likely in the minority of my generation and behind the tech times. My point is that what is convenient for one is not necessarily convenient for all.
If you want to deliver to my generation, know your Gen Y members first. Survey us. Find out what we use. Where we want our information to come from and then apply that to the services you offer us.
When you launch a mobile app find out how many members are using it and the ages of those members. Find out how frequently they use the app.
Find out how many of your members visit your branch. Find out what branch they visit and how frequently they visit it.
For a recent article I wrote, the person I interviewed brought up how Hurricane Katrina exposed a weakness in the credit union system.
Many victims of the disaster that were credit union members and had to relocate were without access to their money. Customers of big banks could get access to the closet branch where they were relocated, but many credit unions did not have branches in those locations.
Think ahead and formulate a plan. If you branch was shut down how would your members get access to their funds? Form relationships with other credit unions to put a plan into action.
Convenience is not a constant. What is convenient one day may be inconvenient the next. Technology is constantly changing and circumstances are constantly changing. Your credit union needs to make sure it is keeping up.
How convenient is a service that only half your members can use? If your members had to relocate could they still use your services? These are questions to think about, revisit, and think about again and again.