Millennials Are Setting the Consumer-Experience Bar in Banking

By Michael Boukadakis

January 5, 2017 — Millennials can no longer be ignored. While some make disparaging remarks about this younger generation or believe its 75.4 million members are “different” from other demographic groups, they, in fact, have more in common than many people realize. Still learning and developing as adults, Millennials do have wants, tastes and desires that vary from older generations—but this was also true of Gen X and Gen Y in their younger years. Rather than bemoaning their mentality, banks, credit unions and payment companies should recognize that Millennials’ expectations are influencing those of consumers at every age.

The overall strategy of the financial and payment industries must evolve to meet the wants and needs of Millennials—the largest demographic group in the U.S.—as was done for their elders. In years past, these industries were forced to adapt to the demands of new adults in earlier generations by implementing technologies to fit their lifestyles. Financial organizations should embrace young adults’desires for speed, convenience and security, and develop products and services that meet their expectations.

Millennials have more complex media consumption habits than their elders. They grew up with computers in their homes and mobile devices in their pockets. For many in the 19-35 age group, new media—on-demand access to content anytime, anywhere, on any digital device—is the only media. The rise of texting, apps, and mobile broadband has produced a widespread anticipation of immediate information. This reality calls for a diverse digital approach when developing banking and payments technology and services for this group that currently makes up—believe it or not—more than a third of the U.S. workforce (read: money makers).

Banks, credit unions and payment companies need to invest in technology—cloud apps, call center technology, mobile security—to meet consumers where they are with customer service. The telephone (81 percent) still ranks as the top customer service channel that U.S. customers use on a regular basis, according to Microsoft’s 2016 “Global State of Multichannel Customer Service Report,” but a traditional interactive voice response (IVR) system alone is no longer enough. To provide a superior consumer experience for all ages, modern technology that enables intelligently personalized and multi-modal interactions with customers is crucial. Impressing today’s consumers requires the merging of multiple interaction channels into an overarching experience that gives Millennials the flexibility they crave to connect how they want and when they want. Many consumers prefer to handle questions and issues on their own first and then, if necessary, get live customer assistance.

This is particularly true of Millennials and makes effective self-service options critical to the consumer experience. An omnichannel approach to customer service, one that links all interaction channels, is needed to optimize and adapt to changing customer dynamics in real-time. For example, if a customer encounters issues with a self-service application or has a question, he should have a direct route to immediately access live assistance. Sharing information across interaction channels and offering consumers multiple ways to find answers will ensure they don’t run into dead-ends.

Predictive analytics is key to streamlining multimodal customer service and meeting the expectations of the modern consumer, which are increasingly being shaped by Millennials. With the latest technology, data can be utilized to anticipate individual patrons’ needs, allowing organizations to resolve issues faster and with less effort from the consumer. An intelligent multimodal experience, for example, could give a customer who has encountered a failed mobile log-in a link to initiate a call to the IVR, which should recognize that the trouble occurred and offer a solution to help the customer. A dynamic decision-making engine that is fueled by data analytics also increases incremental revenue from current customers. Using this smart system, an organization is able to suggest relevant products and services based on individual customer data from the omnichannel system and historical offer acceptance data. Offers that fit a customer’s unique needs can lift loyalty and revenue.

Ready or not, the expectations of Millennials are setting the consumer-experience bar. To secure a spot in the financial services landscape, banks, credit unions and payment companies need to get on board with this market evolution. Today, the best way to bank on Millennials is with a data-driven, omnichannel approach to customer service.

Michael Boukadakis is the founder and CEO of Enacomm, a provider of intelligent customer interactions technology.

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