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Recently, I received a press release for a new Gen Y-targeted product that, to me, really stood out.It was a debit card account for teens that parents could manage in order to teach good financial management skills. While it’s a good example of what credit union’s should be offering it also got me thinking, is it enough?Offering a good product is only half the battle. You also have to provide good service to back it up. The reality is that even if you offer an extraordinary product, it will do little good if I don’t like the way you treat me as a customer.The people in the credit union branches and on the front lines dealing with members everyday may very well be Gen Yers themselves, but chances are that the people they take orders from and the people they receive customer management training from aren’t.When dealing with Gen Y, employees or customers, there are certain things to keep in mind. While some of our gripes are universal, it’s important to understand our likes and dislikes because you’re going have to deal with us one way or another.The human touch. We’re always characterized as a technological savvy generation. Though this is true, that does not mean we are lovers of all technology. We grew up on having to work our way through automated voice systems and sitting on hold for an hour just to hear a human voice. We’re a generation of instant gratification. When we have a problem, we want an answer and we want it fixed right away. It isn’t very realistic for many credit unions to have someone answering every single phone call, but on your automated systems you should have an option to speak to a representative, and it should be one of the first options.Speed is key. Like most people we hate waiting on lines. A teller line should move quickly. And we don’t want to engage in small talk. We want to do what we have to do and leave.Personal touch. We grew up in the age of Wal-Mart and big company chains. We’re used to being ignored and having to search a store for an employee to ask for help. This may seem like a contradiction to my no small-talk rule, but we do appreciate being recognized as a valuable customer. If there is a long line, have the branch manager go out and greet customers and apologize for the wait. Have someone waiting to ask us what we need help with, so we don’t have to wait on the teller line to ask a question.Don’t push. In talking with one of my friends, her biggest complaint about her bank was that it constantly tries and get her to open up a credit card account. Through e-mail and even regular mail, we’re constantly getting advertising and promotions shoved down our throats. With all the fraud and scams out there, we’re untrustworthy and always feel like we’re getting roped into something we don’t really need or want. Make us feel like opening up a new account was our idea not yours. We want to feel like we’re making smart decisions for ourselves not because our bank wore us down and we finally gave in.Let us ask questions. Our parents raised us with explanation and negotiation. We’re of the mindset that there’s a solution for everything and always a better way to do things. Don’t dismiss our questions and allow us to provide input and feedback when we question why you do something.Don’t talk down. When we do come in to sign up for that debit card account don’t lecture us on the product and how it works. Explain the product and how it is going to be used in our everyday lives. Provide examples that are age appropriate of situations where having the debit card will help us. You’ll have our attention, and it opens up the door for us to ask questions instead of just having us listen to you as our eyes glaze over. While a lot of products for younger Gen Yers are going to involve their parents too, don’t just talk to the parents. Involve their child in the conversation, too. Ultimately, it’s the younger ones that you want to become active members.I know with every customer that walks through the credit union door each day that it is not possible to please everyone or to cater to one age group. But, my point is, that if you want Gen Yers to be active members and come to the credit union for products, then you’re going to have to deal with us on a customer-service level. We should receive just as much care and attention as an older member that has a checking and savings account and loans with you. If you treat us as customers that just occasionally come into the branch to make withdrawals and deposits, then that’s all we’re going to be.–[email protected]

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