American Banker

American Banker

How to Close the Deal with Millennials: Do Not Waste Their Time

Myriad surveys and reports note that millennials don’t talk on the phone and they don’t write or answer emails.

So it’s no surprise that Citizens Bank in Providence, R.I., was getting very low response rates when communicating in those two channels with its largely millennial student loan applicants.

“What we learned is that they are not very engaged in these channels,” said Mary Fiorille, head of the unsecured lending business at the $140 billion-asset bank. “It was very difficult to get them to provide us the information we needed” after they started a student loan application, she said. “So there were delays in application closings.”

To address the problem, the bank tried a new mobile messaging function. The technology, developed by a Philadelphia firm called Relay Network, captures a customer’s mobile number when they fill out a loan application through the bank’s mobile app or website. It then sends messages from the bank to their mobile phone, which prompts them to provide the bank with whatever further information it needs to complete the application. Customers and bank service reps can also communicate one-on-one via the messaging service, known as Citizens Bank Wire.

“These customers, I think just like all millennials, respond to quick sound bites,” Fiorille said. “So we had to tailor our communications for them.”

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