Today, the baby boomer population is one of the largest in the United States. In fact, there were almost 76 million Americans born during the baby boomer period, from 1948 to 1960. This means that this demographic group represents about 28% of the United States population, which is considered one of the largest in the United States history. Certainly a group to pay attention to by any business but particularly one that should get the full attention of credit unions. Why?
It has been reported that in the upcoming year there is the potential for more than 5 million boomers to leave their credit unions when they leave the workforce. That is the bad news. The good news is that another report by Forrester Research shows credit unions tied for first place with USAA as the most trusted financial institution, most likely because credit unions have the reputation for putting customer needs first, which fosters loyalty and trust. With the continued uncertain economy, boomers are sure to be looking at financial provider alternatives with which to place their trust. This gives credit unions the perfect opportunity to put in place a strategy to not only retain current members but to also woo potential new ones.
Undoubtedly, a credit union will want to find ways to provide for a retiree's needs to keep that large number from moving to another financial provider. That will mean letting them know about products that will help manage their income and maintain the lifestyle they enjoy. It may also mean providing advice that supports their decision making. For those still in the workforce, planning is important, but marketing materials or messages that target older people will not work for this group of members who may look at 60 as being the new 40.
And to make things even more complicated, it is a demographic group that is all over the place when it comes to how they like to receive information. While many have embraced the Internet, there are still many in this age group that have not kept up with technology and may be even against it. Once again, one solution for communication will not fit all.
It is clear you need a communication plan that will make it possible to meet the diverse needs of your baby boomer members. One avenue is to develop a strategy to integrate the data you have on each member into every communication you send, making your customer communications integral to building those all-important customer relationships. The role documents play in your business strategy can never be underestimated. Statements and notifications are tangible products that are regularly seen by your members, and there are many innovative ways to get more value out of these customer touch points.
Drawing information from what you already know about your members you can, for example, use the white space on your statement to send an offer for products that help your members better manage their income or health coverage. Highly personalized communications deliver many benefits. They have a proven track record when it comes to dramatically improving customer response. And in doing so, you also reap the benefit of reduced production costs by eliminating the need to produce separate announcements as well as reduce the time required to get the word out. Even the briefest message on the statement can be timed to integrate with a broader campaign, directing members to the website for information on how easy and beneficial it is to belong to your credit union or alerting them to your highly competitive rates on things like certificates of deposits.
Differentiation is critical as you focus on ways to retain and gain members. Having the ability to segment and target personalized content for cross-sell and up-sell opportunities as part of normal communications will accomplish two important things: remaining competitive and succeeding in providing your baby boomer members the information they want.
One critical feature you will want to have is the ability to track and monitor response. This allows for that all-important capability of measuring the effectiveness of the campaign and makes it possible for positive response to the first mailing to become the trigger for a second mailing. For example, an initial mailing might ask if a member is interested in receiving more information about certificates or other related products. A "yes," can automatically generate the second communication that will direct the member to the appropriate page at the credit union's website.
When you make it easy for members of any age to understand the benefits of your products and services, you are on the right track for ensuring retention and loyalty. By incorporating relevant information through all of your contact points-print, electronic or interactive-you can improve member relationships by providing communications that are consistent and have impact. Delivering products and services that your members want, when and where they want it, will help you keep those impending retirees and those who think 60 is the new 40 satisfied.
Doug Cox is the director of North America Enterprise Business for GMC Software Technology.
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