Wonder what your future customers will expect? Ask.
In keeping with the theme “Bank to the Future: Surveying the Next Five Years,” the Bankers’ Bank of the West Operations Conference held in August 2017 included a panel discussion about the expectations of younger bank customers in the business sector. The four participants—two men and two women—fell in the range defined as millennials or late Generation X. They spoke candidly about their priorities and business needs, how they form networks of contacts, and how they choose professional services.
The participants were quick to acknowledge they were speaking only for themselves, not for an entire generation. But by providing supporting details and examples, they gave community bankers more a good many “aha!” insights, as indicated by conference feedback. For the benefit of those who weren’t at the conference, a few of the big takeaway tips from the lively discussion are distilled and paraphrased below.
We want tools that save us time and make it easy for us to take care of business—like bill pay, mobile banking, remote deposit capture, and text alerts. That doesn’t mean we’ll be enticed by every new gimmick on the market, though. Rule of thumb: For us, the fewer transactional trips to the bank, the better. Keep it simple for us. (One business owner mentioned he hadn’t written a check in years.)
Overall, we’re not looking for huge social media presence. Real content—say an accomplishment or a new program—can be worth blogging, though. Most of all, be authentic.
Earn our confidence and deliver on your promises. We want a main contact at the bank who knows us, who’s competent and responsive. It’s fine not to have all the answers right away, but get back to us even if the answer is no. We appreciate coaching, and good advice is worth a premium. (A preference for quality in performance over lower price—“I know my banker will get it done right, so I don’t care that he’s not the cheapest”—was voiced at several points during the discussion.)
Currently, there seems to be some backlash against faceless entities, and keeping money in the community does mean something to us. So don’t forget to educate your customers and communities on what makes your bank different. Also, actions also speak louder than words—and that means commitment to “community” goes beyond just being a named sponsor of every cause and event.
Know your business customers really well. Meeting a new or prospective customer over breakfast or a cup of coffee is very low-cost marketing, but it’s effective. The better you know your clients, the better you can serve them.
Build value and goodwill with your business customers by connecting them with one another. Find out what one client needs, and introduce her to another who can provide it. As business people, we make and depend on referrals to grow. We expect our community banker to support us in developing business relationships.
Undoubtedly, a different mix of business people in their 20’s and 30’s would offer other responses to the question of how to earn their loyalty. And for that reason, community banks should consider inviting a sampling of people from their local own communities to discuss what the up-and-coming wave of customers expect a bank. It would be wise to discuss their ideas in your next your strategic planning session. too. [Paragraph]With the aim of keeping community banking strong and relevant, Bankers’ Bank of the West supports its customers by providing both high-quality solutions and value-added professional development opportunities. Our professional development initiatives include educational conferences, lender training, complimentary web-based training, access to affordable payments-related webinar courses, and facilitated peer-to-peer meetings. We invite your suggestions on issues and topics that concern you—and welcome ideas on how we can help your bank fulfill its mission. [Insert “”Contact us”” instructions]