It’s no secret that Gen Y is plugged in 24/7. We use the Internet for everything from shopping to job searching to apartment hunting. Even dating and making new friends is commonly initiated via cyberspace. While we can’t imagine a life without our laptops, tablets and smartphones, it’s also a given that our most meaningful moments don’t happen online.
I’m lucky to have the ability to complete all my work-related correspondence with a laptop and iPhone. It allows me to avoid an hour-long commute in the morning and work in any location I choose. But the lack of human interaction drives me crazy most of the time and leads to feelings of isolation. I began working alongside a friend, who also works from home, several days a week, and the conversations between tasks and lunches out have brought me a major mood boost.
I’ve also taken more of a liking recently to doing things the old-fashioned way. I get off the computer when I’m not working and catch up with friends over dinner or at the gym, and I work on expanding my social circle when I’m out and about, not by visiting an online community. I also plan on avoiding Craigslist during my next apartment hunt. Instead, I’ll walk around my neighborhood of choice and call the numbers posted on “For Rent” signs.
So while many credit unions continue to make technology-related investments in the hopes of reeling in Gen Y, I invite them to consider making equal investments in face-to-face experiences. I recently interviewed people at Affinity Plus Federal Credit Union, a $1.6 billion credit union in St. Paul, Minn., and was intrigued by their decision to upgrade their most popular branch to a new building featuring inviting teller stations placed throughout the center of the main room, as opposed to in the traditional line, along with areas conducive to socializing. The credit union said it does offer online and mobile services but believes high quality, in-person service is what leads to fruitful relationships and ultimately member growth. [See the Sept. 5 issue, page 3.]
According to TheFinancialBrand.com, just 17% of individuals ages 20 to 29 say they would endorse their bank to others. The article stated that banks’ push of once face-to-face interaction to online channels has increased young consumers’ frustration toward their banks, and 22% of the group surveyed said in the past year, they tried visiting their bank only to find it had been closed. Could it be that Gen Y wants to drive up to a branch and be greeted by a smiling face?
We all know it’s necessary for credit unions to offer electronic financial services tools, but human interaction is far more meaningful than those tools. In my work life, for example, I find it doable to build a relationship with a colleague or source over the phone and Internet, but in the cases where I’ve connected with the person in the flesh, I’ve found my impression of him or her had been inaccurate prior to the meeting. Know that while providing all the electronic bells and whistles might make young members label you as legitimate, it might not make them remember you.