Gen Y Redefines 'Good Member Service'

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

February 20, 2014
/ PRINT / ShareShare / Text Size +

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.

Post a comment to this story


What's Popular

Popular Stories

Recent Discussion

Great article! Unfortunately, most employees don’t feel valued or appreciated by their supervisors or employers. In fact, research has shown that the predominant reason team members quit their jobs is because they don’t feel valued. This is in spite of the fact that employee recognition programs have proliferated in the workplace – over 90% of all organizations in the U.S. has some form of employee recognition activities in place. But most employee recognition programs are viewed with skepticism and cynicism – because they aren’t viewed as being genuine in their communication of appreciation. Getting the “employee of the month” award, receiving a certificate of recognition, or a “Way to go, team!” email just don’t get the job done. How do you communicate authentic appreciation? We have found people have different ways that they want to be shown appreciation, and if you don’t communicate in the language of appreciation important to them, you essentially “miss the mark”. Additionally, employees need to receive recognition more than once a year at their performance review. Otherwise, they view the praise as “going through the motions”. A third component of authentic appreciation is that the communication has to be about them personally – not the department, not their group, but something they did. Finally, they have to believe that you mean what you say. How you treat them has to match the words you use. If you are not sure how your team members want to be shown appreciation, the Motivating By Appreciation Inventory ( will identify the language of appreciation and specific actions preferred by each employee. You then can create a group profile for your team, so everyone knows how to encourage one another. Remember, employees want to know that they are valued for what they contribute to the success of the organization. And communicating authentic appreciation in the ways they desire it can make the difference between keeping your quality team members or having a negative work environment that everyone wants to leave. Paul White, Ph.D., is the co-author of The 5 Languages of Appreciation in the Workplace with Dr. Gary Chapman.

Your Say: Who should be Credit Union Magazine's 2014 CU Hero of the Year?

View Results Poll Archive