Traditional banking is rapidly evolving; long gone are the days when community banks could impress potential customers simply with the number of brick and mortar locations they have or a wholesome in-person experience.
Members of millennials and Generation Z make up the largest population demographic in the United States. They have high expectations from the companies they do business with, including their financial institution. Unlike their parents and generations before them, customers of these younger generations value the digital experience that companies can provide, and often use that as the determining factor when choosing their primary bank.
Millennials and Gen Z customers are considered digital natives who have grown up surrounded by tech companies using electronic payments; they’re used to digital experiences that are instant and seamless, in every aspect of their lives. This creates an expectation that daily banking will be built around them and their needs — but unfortunately, community banks are having trouble keeping up. While these institutions are known for creating high-touch, personalized experiences for their customers in person, translating this capability to digital experiences isn’t always easy.
There are three things community banks can do to win the trust and loyalty of younger generations.
1. Create a Human, Digital Connection
Although a seamless digital experience may be the top priority for millennials and Gen Z, they still have a desire for a human connection for situations where they cannot find a solution or answer online. The key for banks is to find the balance in providing both — this requires understanding what younger generations want from a bank and putting that in the context of a digital experience. Banks must put forth effort in embedding digital banking with their face-to-face interactions.
2. Provide Tailored Experiences
Taking on a “people first” mindset is essential to thriving in the platform era. Potential customers enjoy very tailored experiences from companies like Apple and Uber Technologies; they carry those same expectations for their community financial institutions. Personal and tailored interactions that go beyond addressing customers by their first name can greatly improve long term loyalty and trust.
One competitive advantage community banks have over fintechs and neobanks is the large amount of data they can use to improve their cross-selling and upselling efforts.
3. Utilize an Engagement Banking Platform
To thrive in the platform era, community banks need to make a paradigm shift from vertical silos that can be hard to change — and even harder to stitch together — when attempting to meet the needs of customers. Instead, they must move to a single customer-centric platform, leaving fragmented journeys behind and leading into the new era of banking. An engagement banking platform can eliminate fragmented member experiences by plugging into your institution’s core banking systems, integrating with the latest fintechs and providing ready-to-go apps for the bank’s various business lines.
The platform era isn’t going anywhere; choosing to continue traditional banking practices isn’t an option for community banks that hope to thrive and become industry leaders. It’s time to embrace the disruption, rather than run from it, and prepare for digital transformations that will re-architect banking around customers.