Gen Y Redefines 'Good Member Service'

The soon-to-be powerful group demands current technology, products, and services.

February 20, 2014

Gen Y member service

No matter what you call them—millennials, Generation Y, or digital natives—the more than 76 million young adults in this group are a force to reckon with, and they’re likely changing the way your credit union conducts business.

They are tech-savvy, collaborative, well-connected, and well-networked.

They believe they can change the world and help build brands whose social purpose they value.

subscribefrontlineDue in part to the Great Recession, which led to particularly high unemployment among Gen Y, they’re the first generation less well-off than their parents.

But their impact will be felt soon. Millennials are poised to hit their prime borrowing years, will comprise 70% of the global workforce by 2025, and are due to inherit $40 trillion—the largest transfer of wealth in history, according to "Retail Strategies to Attract Youth," a white paper from the CUNA Operations, Sales & Service (OpSS) Council.

Share the CU model

Millennials are a great match philosophically for credit unions and their not-for-profit, people-helping-people model.

Many credit unions have successfully attracted and retained these members by broadcasting and demonstrating these values, and offering financial education programs that help them realize their goals.

When serving current or prospective Gen Y members:

• Focus on being social and engaging, providing insight on social media platforms and responding to their questions and comments in real time, whenever

• Simplify complex processes by communicating financial education lessons in plain English.

• Ask them directly what they want from their credit union, demonstrating a personal interest in their lives.

“This group is cynical about marketing,” says Jon Reske, vice president of marketing at UMass5 College Federal Credit Union in Hadley, Mass. “They are a ‘show-me’ kind of group.”

Erase the digital divide

Surveys consistently show millennials demand current technology, products, and services. They won’t settle for a financial institution that makes it difficult to connect digitally.

In short, they’re redefining “good member service” in a digital age.

They want the convenience and flexibility to manage their money online—through apps, remote deposit capture, bill pay, and other services—and many rarely want to enter a branch.

When they do visit your office, however, they want to connect with tech-literate member service representatives and financial mentors.

Think about your credit union. How easy is it to:

Become a member?

Apply for a loan?

Transfer money from another financial institution?

Become well-versed in answering these questions and understanding your processes. You’ll want to recommend appropriate credit union services to Gen Y, who won’t seek face-to-face service as often as other members.

Make it easy for these young adults to do business with you, according to the white paper. If you don’t, they’ll just go elsewhere for services.


What online products and services does Gen Y demand from its credit unions?

According to research by the CUNA OpSS Council, they include:

• Easy account opening. Millennials are twice as likely as the general population to apply for an account online—a process that offers the first impression of your credit union.

• Powerful online tools. This means tools that facilitate payments to friends and mobile deposit, but also text alerts to monitor account activity.

• Mobile banking that evolves. Gen Y constantly searches for the next best thing, so never be satisfied with your status quo.

• Easy loan solutions. This generation faces financial challenges its predecessors didn’t, especially with burdensome student loans. Give them a pathway to independence with user-friendly online loan applications.

• Card-centric accounts. Be aware of terminology. With this group, “checking account” is out; debit or credit is in. Also, prepaid cards are popular, in part because parents can easily reload them.

This article first appeared in Credit Union Front Line Newsletter, the monthly sales and service newsletter for branch staff and their managers. Subscribers can choose to receive the print edition or PDF version.