At 80 million strong, Gen Y will soon control the nation’s wealth, posing a mammoth opportunity for credit unions. Born during the early 1980s and the late 1990s, the group is more than three times the size of Generation X and exerts major influence on American culture.
To attract and truly retain Gen Y members, credit union staff must follow their lead. Often, this may mean adding a next-generation twist to traditional products and services. Other times it will mean adopting new modes of operation or technologies.
Gen Y members have very different expectations than any other generation credit unions serve. For example, making time for chit-chat is not a priority for them. They much prefer to hunt down information themselves, skipping the bother of talking to someone.
Credit unions that have lived and breathed the high-touch fundamentals of customer service will need to flip the switch on that line of thinking when planning how to best serve Gen Y members. Tech savvy, these younger members take pride in being busy and mobile. And, they expect their financial services providers to stay in stride. They want immediate access to information and to be able to check balances, transfer funds, pay bills, deposit checks and find an ATM on demand, regardless of their location or the time of day. It’s these core lifestyle components, of course, that are driving the explosion of mobile banking and alternative payments technology.
But speed and mobility are only a small part of what is important to this generation of young people. Philanthropy and volunteerism, as well, are core values for Gen Y Americans. As credit unions look to attract loyal members of this demographic, finding ways to help them easily pursue their personal goals will be as important as helping them pursue those of a financial nature.
A great example of a credit union doing exactly that is Des Moines, Iowa-based Financial Plus Credit Union. For its annual fundraiser for the Children’s Miracle Network, the team knew that online giving had to be a part of the process, but they also wanted to add an extra layer of mobility to the fundraising effort. By enabling members to donate from their homes, offices or anywhere in between, they hoped to inspire a boost in giving.
Doing so delivered results, as nearly 15% of its contributions to the Children’s Miracle Network came through those donations.
Known as an irreverent generation that questions every one of the millions of marketing messages bombarding them daily, Gen Y members will demand to see, not hear about, the credit union difference. It’s in small ways like the Financial Plus fundraiser that credit unions can demonstrate to Gen Y that they truly understand and can support the Gen Y values, goals and everyday lifestyle.
Brian Day is Dwolla product leader for The Members Group.
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