Mobile apps appeal to next gen customers

Great Basin Federal Credit Union is launching a new remote deposit application next month.

Take a photo of a check, including routing number and other pertinent information, and deposit it in your account using your phone. That’s it. No need to set foot inside one of the credit union’s three branch locations.

The mobile application will likely appeal to many of Great Basin’s 16,000 members, but it is designed to especially please younger patrons — so-called millennials or echo boomers, people born after 1980, in the 20- to mid-30 age range, and currently the country’s largest demographic group.

“Without a doubt, every industry is thinking about the next generation customer,” says George Sun, manager of Image Arc Marketing Solutions, a business unit of the Nevada Credit Union League, a marketing consultant for members of the trade association for the state’s credit unions.

For credit unions, that means many things, says Sun and others.

For one, Sun says there is the “age-old battle” of distinguishing credit unions from banks and conveying the difference in a meaningful way to younger customers.

“We hear a lot about how millennials want to be part of social causes,” says Elisabeth Hadler, marketing manager with Great Basin in Reno.

So the credit union emphasizes its good interest rates and lower fees and, especially, its structure.

“We’re member owned. We don’t seek to please stockholders. Everyone has a say,” says Hadler. “Everything we do is in the interest of the members.”

At the same time, credit unions have to show that those old-fashioned values are coupled with technological savvy.

Besides online banking and mobile apps, Great Basin uses social media extensively to market to and educate younger customers.

The credit union operates accounts on Facebook and Twitter, and offers an extensive collection of educational videos, produced both in house and by SoSuTV, a Reno production company, on youtube. Most are intentionally humorous and feature a guide, Randy, a man wearing a big horn sheep head made from fabric, the Great Basin brand logo.

“We’re building a library of videos from everywhere, from funny ones to tips to frequently asked questions and tutorials,” says Hadler.

Anyone can view the videos so the collection is a way to market to millennials, who are often doing things like buying a car or a house or looking for a small loan to start a business for the first time.

Social media can be a double-edged sword, though, says Sun. Popular platforms change quickly.

Also, because it’s so easy to find information online, millennials will move on quickly if they’re not finding what they need. Same for services. Technology makes it easy to move to a new provider so younger consumers are less loyal.

Which means credit unions need to continue to empathize strengths in customer service, says Kerstin Plemel, vice president marketing at Greater Nevada Credit Union.

To that end, Greater Nevada last year introduced a free concierge auto buying service for members. It walks members through the whole car buying process, from car research to connecting with dealers to securing a loan -- a step-by-step service that naturally appeals to young, first-time buyers.

“At the end of the day we’re helping our members,” says Plemel.


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