Financial services: what Gen Z consumers want?

-Banking and financial services industry has more leaders in digital transformation than other industries.

-It’s key for banks to understand the demands of Gen Z consumers.

-AI can be an integral tool for banks to deliver unparalleled experiences at every stage throughout the Gen Z consumer lifecycle.


Merging digital and in-person services for the next generation of banking customers


In today’s digital era of Business 4.0, banking and other financial services organizations are faced with constantly shifting consumer demands and expectations. For the most part, these organizations seem to be leading the pack in meeting these demand, as studies have shown the banking and financial services industry has more leaders in digital transformation than other industries, across the board.

Each generation of consumer brings new hurdles and challenges that banks need to consider when undergoing structural transformations. To date, these changes have been, for the most part, gradual. For example: millennials somewhat straddled the line between full digital and legacy services, making innovative transformation a much less daunting task for banks looking to accommodate millennial service requirements. That being said, the next generation of consumers are primed to cause much more disruption than generations prior.

It’s important for banks to understand the demands of Gen Z consumers and plan ahead, in order to provide the services and capabilities that this next wave of consumers have already come to expect. 

Convenience and Timeliness

Studies have shown that Gen Z consumers are twice as likely to use online-only storefronts and websites than any preceding generation. These shopping habits are integral for banks to take into consideration as well. Furthermore, an overwhelming majority of Gen Z consumers are consistently active on social media and even prefer alternative methods of peer-to-peer payment (e.g. Venmo, Cash App, etc.).

Banks need to adopt new, interactive digital services to accommodate this digital preference. Through the use of next-gen technology (e.g. AI, 5G, cloud computing, IoT etc.), banks already have the tools to do so at their disposal. For example, by integrating AI and ML-driven chatbot services online, banks will be able to interact with prospective and existing Gen Z clients — providing them with individualized customer services based on each customer’s self-identified needs. Consumers will be able to open, manage, and maintain accounts with more ease than ever before. Through the integration of 5G and machine learning capabilities, these services will become increasingly realtime, streamlined and personalized.

In-Person Experiences

While banks will certainly need to invest in next-gen digital capabilities to accommodate these Gen Z consumers, there is also an irreplaceable benefit for in-person interaction, and the relationship between a banker and the consumer. Especially with more complex interactions and account conversations, there is a trust factor that cannot be replaced by digital technology for even the most digital-centric generations of consumers. Face-to-face interaction is key in helping establish said trust in the end-user. Additionally, that face-time interaction is important for helping explain more complex services and contractual obligations to consumers — so that they can fully understand what services best fit their needs, and understand the intricacies that exist within each service package.

With all of this in mind, there are ways that technology can help streamline these more personal interactions as well, and banks that successfully integrate said tools will reap the benefits of consumer trust and loyalty. Recent studies have shown that 78% of Gen Z consumers believe that AR and VR will have an overwhelming impact on how we view the world, in just the next five years.

This is where banks should be looking to provide those in-person experiences to a digital audience. AR and VR capabilities can be integrated into online banking processes to help deliver that invaluable in-person experience — without the need to sacrifice convenience or accessibility that comes with online banking. The role of the in-bank associate is not in danger of being removed outright. It is simply changing to accommodate a new wave of consumers whose values and priorities differ from traditional generations of the past.

Banking as a Gen Z Life Coach

AI can be an integral tool for banks to deliver unparalleled experiences at every stage throughout the Gen Z consumer lifecycle — from prospecting, to onboarding, goal setting and reaching, and beyond. For example, potential Gen Z customers can be prospected through hyper-personalized social marketing tactics by utilizing AI to evaluate likes, dislikes, follows and more — finding the right customers and delivering insights into how to best approach. Once a new customer is secured, ‘know your customer’ technology, driven by API and machine learning can help onboard these new customers in a matter of seconds. Once onboarded, “best next advice” capaibilies can be utilized to deliver actionable short-term and long-term goals. Banks can then use AI, geo-location data, and more to help these customers meet their goals through day-to-day savings, whether it be through a recommended prompt based on spending history and alternative cheaper options in the customer’s daily vicinity, or through recommendations based on over-spending and a removal of wasteful daily tendencies. These are just a few of the many ways that technology can help provide Gen Z consumers with the convenience, speed, and consultation that they require — throughout the entire lifecycle of the bank-to-consumer relationship.

Banks must understand that Gen Z consumers will eventually make or break their success. Though technological adoption has been slowly become more of a priority for these organizations, true disruption and risk-taking innovation is going to be needed to prepare for the next generation of consumers who prefer to operate online and on-the-go. The banks who make the necessary accommodations will benefit tenfold from the investment, and those who choose to ignore Gen Z consumers will ultimately be left behind.

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