Be Edgy, Informative, Collaborative and Cool
When I began my career in banking in the 1980s, financial institutions in the metro New York City market were targeting a new demographic: young professionals. They offered a relationship product (combined checking, savings and credit accounts) and waived minimum balance requirements for several months and extended lines of credit to recent graduates. The idea was simple: attract young customers with compelling offers and keep them for life.
Fast forward 20 plus years. Today, Generation Y is of age. This generation's preferred modes of communication are unlike those of previous generations, including instant messages, Facebook and Twitter. Almost all have mobile phones but using them for making telephone calls is a secondary function. They watch YouTube regularly but view less television than previous generations. Just as important, they do not trust advertising and are skeptical of marketing claims, preferring instead to rely on the wikis of their peers, often strangers, for their buying decisions. They expect 24/7 access and do not understand the concept of banking hours. Some day this demographic will have substantial assets, so how do we bring them to our financial institutions before we lose them for good?
It is not that Gen Y dislikes the concept of visiting a credit union branch, or any other financial institution branch, to open an account. But, as digital natives, they are accustomed to comparing all of their available options online when shopping for anything, whether a digital camera or demand deposit account. They will read the blogs and wikis of others for reviews. They will choose whatever recommended option makes the most sense for them. They will shop for price and most likely close the deal online. Blogs and wikis are, therefore, very important decision-making tools for Gen Y, and credit unions should not be afraid of them.
Credit unions that do not give their customers a forum to openly discuss their banking experiences will witness their customers finding a site to vent elsewhere.