INTRO FROM A MILLENNIAL
I am writing this post as my Roomba rumbles past my desk chair, automatically cleaning the floor, sensing obstacles and dynamically re-routing itself. Amazon and others are serving up digital ads via my browser, and some of the products they are offering look promising. A notification from my mobile banking app shoots across the screen to tell me a purchase larger than a threshold I have set has been attempted.
My life is increasingly digital, and I embrace the efficiencies offered by this new digital World. Technology facilitates so many aspects of my life that I have come to expect digital services rather than want them. If a company isn’t digitally integrated, I am not using their products. For example, my doctor pushed out test results from a recent physical via an interactive web portal. This allows me to access the information when I need it. If this doctor didn’t provide this service, would I still be with the practice, no probably not. I am sure a friend or colleague would mention their ease of use with their provider, and I would search for one with the same services.
My wife and I are both in our early 30’s, work hard for our capital and want it to be accessible. Countless articles have been written on how our generation, the Millennial Generation, values experiences vs products, and banking is no different. The products should complement and deliver to an overall experience, not the other way around.
Credit Unions have a tremendous opportunity to win millennial customers over from traditional banks through the design and development of easy to use and effective digital services. I expect the same ease of use from my financial institution as I do with my smart vacuum cleaner. According to a poll from Gallup, millennials are 2.5 times more likely than Baby Boomers and 1.5 times more likely than Gen Xers to switch banks. This poll reflects my sentiment, as I am willing to switch brands if I know there are more digitally tuned services to make my life easier.
Why should Credit Unions be targeting millennials? Not only do they present an opportunity to build lasting relationships, but millennials are the largest generation in the U.S. labor force according to the Pew Research Center.
The rest of this post is not going to be a review of what millennials might think or do but will instead focus on a recent banking switch I was forced to make due to relocation.
WHY CREDIT UNION DIGITAL TRANSFORMATION MATTERS | A PERSONAL STORY
I moved from Denver, CO to Portland, ME recently. Not only was this move large in terms of mileage, but I was forced to reexamine a number of different subscriptions and brands I had become accustomed to in the West that were not present in the Northeast. I had purchased a car while living in Colorado and had my auto loan serviced by a local Credit Union. Refinancing had crossed my mind, and the move facilitated me to take action. Additionally, my wife and I were considering our first home purchase and knew we wanted to explore mortgage servicing via the same Credit Union. I was and am currently very satisfied with my JPMorgan Chase checking and savings account, a point I will explore later, but my wife was unsatisfied with her primary Bank of America account, and wanted to switch primary servicers.
To recap, we were in the market for two auto loans, a home loan, a joint savings, and a primary checking/savings account. These accounts are incredibly important to our lives, and we began the process of exploring Credit Unions in our area. If Chase had physical branches in my area, I probably would have pushed their services harder. My wife really wanted to establish a relationship with a Credit Union where we could go in-person if need be. We both had positive relationships and received great interest rates in the past from Credit Unions and wanted our business to stay there despite my proclivity to stay with Chase. With multiple Credit Unions in our area, our selection process would come down to a few deciding factors.
DECISION CRITERIA #1 FOR SELECTING A CREDIT UNION | MOBILE & DIGITAL BANKING
After reading the first paragraph in this post, you might have picked up on a theme, digital services matter in our lives and are no longer nice-to-haves. An easy to use mobile application and website were required for us to even consider Credit Union candidates. A few of the Credit Unions in our area did not have a mobile app, and they were immediately crossed off the list. After conferring with friends and colleagues, internet research and spending time on corporate websites, we began to rank Credit Unions based on their online/mobile services.
This ranked list served as our road-map for onsite visits. Thinking about this recent experience led me to examine how brand loyal I am. The closest Chase branch is almost 178 miles away from me. If I want to go to a Chase ATM, I have to travel 111 miles, yet I highly doubt I will move my primary accounts from them. On the rare occasions I need cash, I pay the extra servicing fee. If I need to interact with the bank, chatting, emailing or phoning their customer service department works for me. Why does this work for me? Chase has offered me exceptional customer service throughout my nine years with the bank and meets my needs with practical digital services. If I want to move money from checking to savings, it takes 30 seconds and 3 clicks. If I want to add extra principal to a collegiate student loan serviced via Chase, I can automatically calculate how this will affect my principal/interest balances via 2 or 3 clicks.
Chase is one of the largest banks in the world and has billion-dollar divisions focused on mobile & digital banking. I understand the resources Chase has access to and would not expect the same feel from a local Credit Union, but I do expect the same accessibility, ease of use and a digital platform.
DECISION CRITERIA #2 FOR CREDIT UNION SELECTION | ONLINE LOAN PORTAL
A number of our accounts were loans and loan-servicing was our next most important selection criteria. Remember all of those digital distractions I highlighted above? Making direct payments for our mortgage and auto-loans are not top of mind. Who wants to think about outgoing payments when Amazon is sending you ads for a new Flat Screen TV or deck furniture set? We certainly don’t! Most Credit Unions and financial institutions offer automatic payments, but few differentiated themselves with an intuitive online loan payment portal.
Narrowing down our list of digitally strong Credit Unions was made easier after examining their loan portals. Institutions who offered services like text-to-pay, mobile pay, extra principal calculations/payment and an easy to use portal narrowed down our candidates significantly. It was surprising to us how many Credit Unions fell short on these services, and really made the institutions who had these offerings stand out amongst the crowd. Warning, shameless plug approaching; Credit Unions should take advantage of these loan portal opportunities, and a partner such as MPX can help.
DECISION CRITERIA #3 | BRANDING & EXPERIENCE
After cutting down our pool from 11 to 2 Credit Union candidates, our final selection criteria came down to two, less concrete aspects of a financial relationship. Both branding and experience are very important aspects of any customer relationship, yet the hardest to measure and even harder to get right. Meeting with the final two Credit Unions, one stood out way more than the other.
The winning Credit Union delivered us a summary of our meeting, more information on their mobile app, a guide to using their website, loan portal information all in a clean, visually appealing folder. Our banking manager followed up via email, offering to answer any questions, walk us through their digital assets, and invited us to a webinar. The other credit union stapled a number of these same papers together, handed them off and never followed up again. There is certainly a line on following up with prospects, but this personal touch made us feel important, and the professionalism of the documentation really made quite the impression on us. Branding and communications are definitely a huge opportunity for Credit Unions to win new millennial customers and should not be overlooked in the acquisition equation.
Credit unions who view digital transformation as an asset instead of a headache are positioned to win millennial customers. In our journey of selecting a new financial institution, we valued firms who focused on efficient and effective digital services. Credit unions who lagged in those services were not even considered. The battle for Generation Z is fast approaching and if you think millennials are digitally driven, just wait. Don’t waste opportunities to win customers like my family. We are the early stages of our life, and as we grow, so will our relationship with our Credit Union.
About MPX > MPX is immersed with credit unions and four other related industry segments. The industries they serve are all witnessing end-customer behavior that is dramatically different than 5 years ago, even 5 months ago. The former and new generation of consumers and commercial customers have different expectations, yet both populations expect you to remain relevant, and always available on their terms. The daily interactions you deliver are the currency for earning loyalty and growth. MPX delivers those interactions through digital and paper communications… mobile, portals, statements, and more. They use advanced technology, but more importantly recognize and solve business problems with like-minded leaders seeking forward progress and success.