Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Younger Generation of Customers Less Loyal to Banks

Banks Must Shift Gears to Attract and Retain Gen X and Gen Y

Banks’ most loyal customers are their oldest customers, while Gens Y and X are the retail banking customers of the future. They’re also the least loyal and hardest to please, according to a recent Maritz® Poll. The results revealed more than half of Gen Y (61 percent) and Gen X (53 percent) respondents have considered changing or actually have changed their primary banking institutions in the past two years, compared with 20 percent of Silent Generation and 37 percent of Baby Boomer customers.

“For the most part, the current customer experience model at banks caters to the Silent Generation and Boomers, who more frequently bank in-person at branches. But, younger generation customers are much more mobile and rely more heavily on online interactions,” says Thad Peterson, division vice president, sector strategy and solutions for Maritz’ financial services sector.

“The banks’ most unstable relationships exist with younger customers, because younger people often haven’t settled into a stable financial pattern yet,” explains Peterson. “Banks looking to build long-term relationships with Gen Y and Gen X customers need to think about three basic steps:

#1) Attracting Gen Y and Gen X as customers in the first place – Locational convenience has always been the primary tool for attracting new banking customers. That’s no different with Gen X and Y, but the definition of locational convenience is changing. Now it includes online and mobile and they expect anytime anywhere banking. Banks need a strategy to attract and retain prospective customers who rarely step into a banking office.

#2) Identifying and offering products and services that give young people roots at the bank – like providing incentives for online bill paying services and debit rewards programs.

#3) Treating them the way they want to be treated. Ensure that the customer experience is appropriate for Gen X and Gen Y, and consistent at all major bank touch points.”

In general, the survey results show that younger people can be more impatient, less tolerant and just plain harder to please than their Baby Boomer and Silent Generation cohorts. The survey, which looked at customer satisfaction and loyalty among retail banks, found that younger customers also are more likely than older customers to find fault or have problems with their primary banking institutions:

• 37 percent of Gen Y and 36 percent of Gen X believe they would get better customer service at a different bank, compared with only 24 percent of Boomer and 16 percent of Silent Generation respondents.
• 22 percent of Gen Y and 21 percent of Gen X reported being upset in the past year about high fees, whereas only 14 percent of Boomer and six percent of the Silent Generation respondents reported the same.
• 18 percent of Gen Y and 17 percent of Gen X reported being upset about a lack of ATM locations, compared with only 11 percent of Boomer and three percent of Silent Generation respondents.

So How Do You Woo the Gen X and Gen Y Customer?

It is no longer uncommon practice for businesses to reach out via social media in an attempt to attract these younger customers. Even companies like American Express and Bank of America are using social media networks like Facebook to try to connect with Gen Ys. Peterson advises companies against relying too heavily on social media as a way to initially reach younger customers.

“Using Facebook to attract new customers is like standing in a corner passing out business cards at a cocktail party,” says Peterson. “If you don’t have a genuine relationship with them, all you are going to accomplish is to diminish the value of your brand to that individual.”

If social media isn’t the way to the “promised land” of Gen X and Y’s loyalty, then what is? Peterson has some suggestions:

• Be the source for their first primary debit card – Gen X and Y comprise the debit card generation.
• Highly incent them to migrate to online banking with a significant reward for paying bills online.
• Make sure front-line employees are treating Gen X and Y the way they want to be treated and can solve problems on the spot – a key to securing lifelong patrons.
• Stay in tune with how younger customers want to connect – online banking, bill pay and mobile banking are three customer touchpoints that must be state-of-the-art and part of every bank’s overall customer experience.

Peterson notes that Washington Mutual is one institution that successfully caters to the needs of younger customers. WaMu no longer requires a signature to open a checking account. The bank simply uses the first signed check as the authorization signature – incenting new customers to do business with the bank by simplifying the process and eliminating a trip to the bank. It appeals to the Gen X and Y customer desire to just “get it done,” says Peterson.

“Banks need to listen to the younger generations,” says Peterson. “It’s critical for them to stay ahead of the curve and build good relations with younger customers. After all, they’re the future of the bank.”

1 comment:

Nel said...

Just wonder where the statistics came from; What type of survey, how many participant, which countries, which banks etc etc

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