By Rodney Hassard, Director of Product Management, Genesys
How can banks and financial institutions get through to the generation born in the 1980s and 1990s, the so-called “millennials”, also known as Generation Y, given their shorter attention spans and distrust of brand loyalty? KPMG recently reported there are around 13.8 million people who make up Generation Y in the UK. More diverse in attitudes and ethnic heritage than their predecessors, this is a generation that is hardly wedded to anything, let alone a bank or brand. Many have little interest in car ownership and having grown up with internet-connected devices from a young age, their attention-span can be severely limited which makes building sustained engagement a real challenge.
Despite millennials’ readiness to switch between brands, banks and insurers, the financial world can connect with them – provided it uses some creativity in engagement. Millennials are, after all, one of the largest generational groupings in history and they are about to move into their prime spending years.
Each of their lives will combine to reshape the economies of the world and change the way buying and selling are conducted, compelling companies to thoroughly re-examine how they conduct business well into the future.
Millennials have a very different view of personal banking
The impact of this generation will be immense – particularly in the financial sector. Millennials use banks for traditional services, such as credit cards and even lending. But loyalty is a different game, and there are plenty of technology companies out there chipping away at market share and steadily gaining greater acceptance among adults between the ages of 22 and 37.
According to Bain, a global management consultancy, consumers in the US and UK ranked PayPal and Amazon nearly as high as banks for trust with their money. Millennials think of finance in terms of crowdfunding, virtual currencies and online payment platforms as much as the local branch with an ATM in the wall.
Already we see that large tech companies offering core banking functions pose the greatest threat to established financial institutions. Amazon Cash has 10,000 retail locations and Alibaba has issued $96 billion in loans in five years. Apple Pay, Google, Snapchat and WhatsApp all have strategies that address millennial expectations, providing an experience that’s convenient, multi-functional and requires a few swipes on a mobile device to complete an interaction.
In the Bain research, only a quarter (25 per cent) of UK consumers feel that the banks’ digital channels allow them to do all they need – an indicator of changing attitudes and expectations. Some banks have responded wisely to these requirements by launching new websites, apps, Alexa skills and more. The problem is however, that the mega-tech companies continue evolving with services that attract millennials and build better relationships with them. What, then, can traditional banks do?
Innovate to win over millennials
Leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) to promote seamless and contextualised interactions across every consumer touch point including voice, web and mobile is one way traditional banks can lead with innovation. In addition, banks have a wealth of data they can use proactively to provide advice to customers about their outgoings or interest rate changes that will save them money. When customers want to know more, banks can seamlessly connect them with their own financial advisor. And robotic advisor algorithms can be accessible through voice commands to take smart data-management beyond purely human interactions.
Banks can invest in these capabilities now, because omni-channel customer experience platforms are already available to support these deeper customer relationships and shape them into the future.
Make it personal and focus on the customer – not the product
While digital engagement is critical, traditional banks must also ensure there is a personal element whenever possible. For years, banks have tried to cross-sell and upsell by focusing chiefly on the product, rather than the customer (“for current accounts press 1, for savings press 2”). Shifting to customer-centred selling means weaving in sales and marketing at relevant moments in the customer journey. This level of personalisation requires predictive engagement that uses real-time data to anticipate needs based on machine learning.
If financial institutions are to make real inroads and bond with their millennial customers, they have to get creative and engage early. As millennials grew up, many banks initially underestimated the demands, financial power, and impact of this generation. Generation Z is next, and no bank can afford to risk making the same mistake twice.
Get ready for the differing habits of Gen Z
Gen Z is different, too. They have shorter attention spans but are no less complex or demanding. They expect even more out of technology and they have a lower tolerance for error in the digital domain. And remember, Gen Z is considered a “throwback generation”. They want to work, save money and avoid the trap of debt. Juggling two jobs as a full-time student, musician, and over-achiever can be typical.
This all means banks need to get creative now. To capture Gen Z and keep them as customers, institutions need to weave themselves seamlessly and creatively into the lives of these young people, to integrate technology with humanity, and to connect moments that deliver relevant and instant value through engagement with bots and humans. This tango of customer experience and technology is key.
Today, it is unreasonable to expect that customers will find single blocks of time to solve the problems they face, or to investigate important purchases. Within messaging apps, customers can communicate with a company during short moments of found time (for example, while on the train or walking the dog). Connecting with customers in this way dramatically reduces the level of effort required of them. And it enables continuous conversations that can span hours, months or even years.
The right technology is required for the new types of interaction required
Staying in constant touch with the millennial and Gen Z generations requires technology that brings all marketing, sales and service channels into a single platform with persistent context, giving customers the convenience of using messaging apps such as Apple Business Chat. By meeting customers in the messaging app of their choice, a company executes its business around the customer, allowing each one to get on with his or her daily life.
Right across the financial sector, organisations must come to terms with these two generations. The millennials and their younger Gen Z counterparts are vast and diverse markets with massive purchasing power. And like all generations, they need banking services. The difference is that they demand banking that fits in with the way they live. The delivery of that perfect connection requires innovative thinking and foundational technology that is both reliable and adaptable.