How’s this for a statistical wake up call? By 2020, it is estimated that one in three Americans will be labeled a Millennial – and by 2025, 75% of our workforce will be composed of Millennials. They may take a bad rap, but there’s no doubting it – Millennials are the future leaders of American business. It’s probably why there is so much discussion around how to attract and retain this large, active demographic as a customer base.
I often find myself personalizing articles about how companies are trying to win with my generation. As an accountant focused on community banks, one particular piece recently caught my attention. In it, leading financial company execs speak to the importance – and challenges – of attracting our demographic. It caused me to reflect on what I have enjoyed most about my own relationships with community banks, and what will probably continue to matter most to their pursuit of growth.
It’s true. Our generation can’t function without a mobile phone. For me, the phone is a communication device, radio, Internet and bank channel. I’m not alone – 85% of Millennials own a smartphone, which they touch at least 45 times each day. Mobile technology represents a tremendous opportunity for community banks to reach a broad and important audience.
Banks and professional service firms historically have under-utilized social media as a means of communication. Measuring the results can be slow and difficult to do accurately. That aside, competing in today’s digital environment requires a social media presence. (By way of context, I spend roughly 2 to 2.5 hours a day on Twitter and LinkedIn – well below the norm average of 5.4 hours per day.) Millennials also are more trusting of and interested in the companies they use than previous generations. In fact, 66% follow a company or brand on Twitter. Social media doesn’t constitute ‘thinking outside the box’ anymore. Community banks not yet engaging with this customer base through social media are late to the party.
I love being able to call my banker, and finding that she is empowered to handle everything from a simple question, to a deposit transaction, to making me a loan without having to contact six other people in the bank to get the deal done. Millennials want things done quickly and easily, and it’s no secret that community banks have more flexibility to accomplish this than large banks. Personalized, empowered service is the cornerstone of community banking. That is a huge advantage over larger counterparts and a key selling point to my generation.
A good friend of mine, Parker England, is a respected community banker. He is quoted as observing, “Millennials are used to getting results quickly and to remain competitive, banks must keep up with the changing market.”
Innovation is more important than ever. Your community bank has the opportunity to build significant lifetime value with a massive generation of customers, all through a personalized, accessible-everywhere approach.
How is your bank adapting to the changing customer base? Continuing to innovate and utilize technology will be key to attracting the next generation.