The Future of Banking for Gen X & Baby Boomers

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Introduction

In our previous blogs, we saw how banks are transforming their core businesses to create customer-centric products that are more user-friendly and customizable. We saw how investment in User Experience was earlier considered as gambling. However today, to not invest in User Experience is even bigger gambling, as better product UX has direct reverberations on the top & bottom line of the banks. We also witnessed why banks can not afford to ignore Millennials who are poised to become a major customer base in the coming times. In this blog, we will focus on two key customer segments Gen X & Baby Boomers and on banking experiences that financial marketers must plan now to expand the customer base.

Gen X

It would be a myth to believe that Gen X is the generation that is the most financially stable. This generation carries the highest amount of credit card debts and debts related to housing and educational loans. This is due to the fact that this generation acts as a bridge between their Baby Boomer parents and their Millennial/ Gen Y/Z children. Even though this generation creates the biggest group of wealth creators, they are burdened to cater to the needs of 2 other generations.

The main characteristics of Gen X is that they are brand loyal and good researchers, hence when they make a decision it is based on a lot of research and once they place trust in an institution, they remain loyal it. This is the generation that can be spotted with a printed boarding pass and show printed movie tickets even if they book movies online. Reassurance is their key behaviour and they value the security that is provided to their assets as they are the hard earners and anything that could compromise this security is unacceptable for them.

Gen X can be termed as a flexible generation when it comes to making changes to the way banks function. This is primarily due to the fact that they have had the exposure of the traditional banking system and handled the finances during their parent’s retirement. Secondarily, they have had exposure to the mobile banking experience. All this combined make this group the most informed segment. What they really expect from a bank would be to educate them and advise them on where to invest their money, how to handle their finances easily and suggestions on planning their transactions.

What banks must do to gain more customers from this segment?

1. Personalised Financial Advising

A blind jump into a fully digital fintech approach without addressing this generation which makes up the mass-affluent of the industry is going to put the platform offerings useless. Since they tend to be the head of the families, they are constantly in need of good advice on investments. This is the reason they always need a personal banker who can educate them on profitable investments. This need could be exploited by banks who are the only institutions that have access to each and every financial transaction of the client to provide insightful solutions to recording the inflow, managing the outflow and smart investing of excess savings. This assistance could be provided digitally through online banking or mobile banking to reduce the user’s need to visit branches frequently and could also reduce the annoying impersonal phone marketing that banks practice as of now.

2. Cybersecurity in Banking Services

Since this group are the hard earners, they have accumulated wealth and are in need to protect it. Gen X’ers own and use the most number of credit and debit cards. This makes them feel most strongly the need for their banks to offer the best security features and fraud protection benefits. Though the EMV enabled cards have helped to a large extent to reduce point-of-sale frauds, the CNP (card-not-present) frauds rise the concern for implementation of additional fraud protection parameters and security strategies. Instead of having regular encrypted mails from banks to view the monthly statements, banks should remind users in a more convenient way to review their transactions at frequent intervals to keep a check on fraudulent transactions.

3. Providing a Holistic Banking Experience

Gen X is in most need for a holistic banking experience as they do functions online but still rely on in-person banking and ATM cash withdrawals. This means that banks need to adopt an end-to-end innovation to adapt to customer needs. They need to embrace new trends and transform their business models to suit this. So, when we bring in the emerging trend of digitalisation, it needs to be applied in a front-to-back manner, meaning modernising the core processes as well as front-office platforms and client-facing systems. Thus, transformation should span through mobile banking, software interfaces, payments, trade finance, corporate credit, big data analytics, customer relationships and cross-channel banking.

Baby Boomers

The youngest Boomers are 55 and the oldest 75. This clearly states that a better quality of life has helped people live longer and to retire from work a little later. Stereotyping this generation to be technophobic is a mistake which not just banks, but almost every industry end up committing.

Stereotyping this generation to be technophobic is not going to help. They share lots of traits and experiences with Millennials which make this group as important as any of their predecessors. Both generations entered adulthood against the backdrop of overseas war, economic depression, and social unrest. Boomers have watched their retirement funds wither while Millennials worry if they’ll ever earn enough to pay off their immense student loans. To varying degrees, both groups are terrified of running out of money for even the basic necessities and tend to rely on Gen X for a lot of their needs. Also, both the segments value convenience, but Baby Boomers also place a lot of interest in security.

What banks must do to gain more Baby Boomers as customers?

1. Mobile-first approach

So how can the banks favour this group of users who are new to digitalisation? By prioritizing on a mobile-first, streamlined, personalized and trust driven digital banking experience for their customers. With these concepts laid in place, banks should witness the slow shift of customers from their loyal brick-and-mortar branches to digital banks. This is also backed up with studies that predict that the total mobile banking reliance among Baby Boomers will rise from 8.7% to 13.6% - a proportion that is only going to rise from there. This does not mean that everyone in this generation would abandon the in-branch experience for the online one. This is an opportunity for the banks to also work parallel on their current in-branch experiences like ticketing systems and self-service machines.

2. Convenience is the new loyalty

As research shows, this group of people value convenience in their banking experiences. As Baby Boomers become more confident with technology and enjoy the new level of convenience, they seek the same clarity and direction in banking services. Any confusing or extra steps in this could lead to frustration and eventually make them lose hope in the service. Solutions provided through digital or physical banking should take into consideration this age group’s physical disabilities. Creating digital experiences with the proper visual hierarchy to guide the user, icons that are clear enough for visually impaired and creating contrast could be some of the many to start with.

3. Omni-channel Banking Experiences

It is necessary to omnichannel experience so that the user doesn’t have to always start over again while switching between the physical and digital worlds. This stays valid especially for this user group as they are not task-friendly. From contacting the customer support to using the mobile app or website to directly talking with a staff member, all the data must be captured and centralized so that there is consistency. This reduces confusion and ensures that the uses aren’t burdened to remember any “15 digit number” every time they have to contact customer service or get an issue resolved at the bank. Also, with self-service solutions and appointment driven traffic, there will be a clearer picture into the time the user has to spend in case of visiting the branch. This can really help the systematic Baby Boomers get a clear direction on when to meet a representative and also schedule a meeting at their convenience. This freedom will surely bring in more appreciation from this group of users to the Bank’s functioning and at the same time help the management track operations and metrics around their branches to monitor and scrutinize the experiences delivered.

Conclusion

Design is getting more utilitarian, especially in digital services as design culminates with research will provide the science of meeting the customer needs in the digital space. Simple elements, distinctive lines, clear icons, crisp copy, integrating ecosystem solutions, system design and a perfect frictionless flow will ensure a better experience for the users. Banking design should involve elements of personalization and customization by switching from static to dynamic interfaces by implementing rich and emotive micro-interactions infused with clean visual language.

If you liked this article, you may be interested in the blogs How Can Banks Turn Millennials Into Lifelong Customers and The Design Revolution in Banking. Do give them a read.

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