The Covid-19 pandemic altered how Americans conduct financial transactions, with many making a permanent shift to digital channels.
However, one age group still is a holdout. Baby boomers, ages 58 to 76, didn’t flock to digital channels, especially mobile banking, at as high of a rate as younger cohorts, according to the American Bankers Association. This demographic is still more likely than younger generations to conduct transactions at bank branches.
Of course, in-person banking fosters engagement and drives loyalty. But by not using digital channels, banks miss an opportunity to unlock the value of this high-engagement, high-balance demographic. Forward-thinking banks recognize that the era of the sleepy “senior account” and frequent branch visits is in decline. Rather than let these customers tell you that they’re fine with coming into a branch for all transactions, banks should take steps to help their older customers take advantage of technology that turns service costs into potential growth.
Focus on Safer, Not Easier
Older adults who use online banking are much more likely than younger adults to be concerned about security, according to a survey from Lightico. Banks should make the case to older customers that digital banking channels are secure and can provide a safer banking experience.
Provide staff with talking points in simple language about the layers of protection your financial institution uses to keep customers’ sensitive information safe. Create a list of the security benefits of online banking that staff can share with older customers, such as:
• The ability to check accounts at any time, rather than waiting for a monthly statement.
• The ability to pay bills online and set up automatic payments to prevent checks from getting lost or stolen in the mail.
• The ability to set up notifications of transactions, such as a low account balance or large withdrawals.
Some banks even choose to use digital platforms to provide an additional level of protection for older customers. These services can monitor accounts 24/7 and alert account holders to unusual transactions, signs of fraud and even money mistakes that are common among older adults
Highlight Digital Controls
Staying in control of their finances often is a top concern that older adults have about aging. One way banks can encourage older adults to move to digital banking channels is by highlighting how digital access keeps them in control over their finances. Rather than reconciling checkbooks with account statements each month, they can check their account balance at any time. They can stay in control of bills by setting up automatic payments to avoid late or missed payments or involving others to help with getting payments in the mail.
If they want to gain even more control, encourage them to simplify their financial lives by consolidating accounts that they have at other financial institutions into accounts they have at your bank. Then they’ll just need one password to log on and get a complete picture of their finances. Digital channels are critical to meeting the strong desire of older adults to remain independent.
Digital Doesn’t Replace Humans
Your older customers might be reluctant to adopt digital banking because they enjoy interacting with “their person” at the bank. Banks should emphasize that online and mobile banking isn’t meant to replace in-person banking or their personal relationship in the branch. Rather, these digital tools give relationship managers more ways to help them, from fraud detection and oversight to issue resolution.
Too many banks pitch digital channels as “convenience.” However safety and control are the drivers of digital conversion and engagement for this demographic —and even a potential bridge to acquire their tech-friendly children as new customers.