Our financial clients always ask, “How do we get millennials inside our branches?” Our response is, “Which millennials do you want?” It is important to understand the differences between younger and older millennials. I personally represent a segment of older millennials that may or may not have a spouse, a mortgage, a car loan, and children; so I have a different viewpoint of what attracts me versus what attracts the high school or college-age millennial. For that segment, please view my colleague Shannon McGill’s blog post on financial design for college students. In this blog post, I will share my thoughts on the three different categories that pretty much make the decision of whether I am going inside the branch or not.
Some people question the future of physical branches, but I personally believe that physical branches are here to stay. I compare branches to cell phone stores and those Verizon stores keep popping up out of nowhere. If I have an issue and I don’t feel like pushing multiple different numbers to get to somebody, I would rather just go inside and talk to someone to resolve things quickly and efficiently. Where do people with cell phone issues go? Well it seems like the Verizon stores are always busy, so I assume people are going into the stores despite the customer service they offer via phone and on the website. In reality, not everyone prefers customer service via phone or online methods. Yes, we like the convenience and option of technology, but not for every situation. Besides the question of whether the physical branches exist, location is also a heavy decision maker in my book.
- Is it in walking distance in-town to parks, restaurants, and shopping? By that I mean, can a tiny 2 year-old’s legs handle that walk and can I run multiple errands and kill many birds with one stone on a limited time frame and child behavior timeline?
- Is it easy to get in and out for driving access?
- Is it close to main roads that is not out of my way to go to?
- Is there a drive-through or ATM/ITM options? For instance, if my child falls asleep in the car, can I still accomplish the task? Does your drive through still offer the lollipop? Bribes are still big in the parenting world!
Not only am I looking for a convenient location, but I am also looking for a convenient website and/or mobile options.
- Is it easy to get to your account in the means of less than a minute when you have someone saying your name over and over and over?
- How easy is it to connect accounts and transfer money?
- Does the website have online chat tools in case you don’t want to call customer service with a screaming kid in the background?
I personally do not have a branch that has a kid’s area, but as I continue to design branches I know I would definitely appreciate it. Now with a full on fit-throwing toddler, I can attest that I weigh almost every decision with the answer of a few questions if I have my daughter with me.
- Is there anything to distract my daughter to give me five minutes to talk to somebody? If the answer is yes, I am more likely to come in.
- Is there somewhere for me to sit that gives me easy access to where my child is being distracted?
- Another question that pops in my head is if my terrible-twos daughter starts a full on melt down, will I feel completely embarrassed because everybody is staring at me? If the answer is yes because the atmosphere is very quiet like a corporate office, I am absolutely not going to go in there because I can foresee exactly what is going to happen in there.
As we continue to renovate and build new branches, I truly believe that the atmosphere, aesthetics and experience of the space is a very large determining factor of whether you will be able to get the older millennials into your branch. Millennials in general are not looking to come into a space that is old and tired that they are uncomfortable in unless they absolutely have to. There is of course a heavy weight on the branch personnel to be able to create that customer-centric atmosphere in order to draw people into your space. Together the staff, experience, and design of the branch should be conducive to offering different customer service options and letting people choose the experience they prefer, or depending on their child’s mood that day.