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If you can’t understand the sentence above, chances are you are not a member of Generation Y. The translation appears below, but first let’s highlight the critical things credit unions must do to attract and retain members of this growing demographic.Your products and services must not only compete with other credit unions, but they also must compete with community, regional and national banks. Gen Y is not particularly loyal to one institution. We may have started banking where our parents did, but eventually, we are going to shop around for the most attractive opportunity. One way a credit union can differentiate itself is by bundling an assortment of products and services. Cable and phone companies have done this for years. You might offer basic, intermediate and platinum bundles; the basic package could include free interest-bearing checking and savings accounts, debit card, online banking, online bill pay and mobile banking. Higher tiers would have better rates or more services based on the member relationship.Convenience means not only having an easily accessible branch and ATM network but also having a multitude of delivery channels. Research shows that online usage rang from 49% to 87% of Gen Ys surveyed. Online banking is no longer a luxury; it is a must to ensure 24/7 access. Mobile banking, while still in its infancy, will soon surpass the growth rate of online banking and eventually will become the dominant form of banking interaction. Online deposit and remote deposit capture are two must offer features.Customer service means much more than answering a phone call at a call center. It could mean having instant messaging on your Web site or having an employee in each branch that is cross trained to deal with a multitude of issues. If members have a problem, they expect it to be quickly resolved-inability to answer, transferring our call, lack of response-are not good options. The more channels open the better chance the credit union has of maintaining a relationship.Gen Y is an intelligent bunch. We grew up on cable and internet and have been inundated with advertisements our entire lives. We do not trust ads and are insensitive to pop-ups and banner ads. We do our own research; we know your rates, products and services. We are looking for an institution that guides us and offers advice on products and services that best suit us. When creating marketing messages, do not lecture us on what you think we need, rather acknowledge our differences and be genuine, honest and upfront. Tell us why we should choose you over all others.CUs need to be accessible 24/7/365. This doesn’t mean the branch needs to stay open all hours of the night, but your Web site should. CUs need to have someone on call to answer any pressing need a member may have after hours. If I need to go to a branch, consider extending hours to 7 p.m. on weekdays and ensure you are open on Saturday.We want to do our basic transactions online but still want to access a person when there is a problem or advice is needed. Many CUs think online communication and human contact are two separate things. We prefer to communicate both ways. For us, technology is a way to do things fast and efficiently; it’s something we expect. We educate ourselves online, but when we’re ready to purchase, we’ll stop by a branch and buy in person.Safety and soundness is at the top of everyone’s mind given the current state of the economy and threat of identify theft. Educating the younger generation on the NCUA insured deposit limit is a good start, but more must be done. Remember, many Gen Ys are just beginning their careers and have had limited exposure to managing their own accounts. Hand holding may be called for to ensure their money is safe and there when needed. Educating us is the key to attracting and retaining our deposits.Everyone has free checking, free savings, free debit card, free online banking, free bill pay, etc. Most, if not all, financial products and services are commodities. Why, then, should we choose to bank with you? What’s in it for us? We may choose to bank with you, but in return we want reward points for every transaction, no ATM fees, free mobile banking, high-interest checking and savings and free financial advice. Creating a loyalty program that rewards us based on the total member relationship is a good start in building a lasting relationship with us.So did you figure out the headline sentence?Born between 1980-2000, we number 70 million strong. We’re looking for the right financial institution to partner with. Can you help us out?

Peter Westerman

Credit Union Times

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