Anyone under age 25 who is reading this may not even know what a typewriter looks like let alone what it does and how it works. But I digress….
A few weeks ago I walked into a credit union as part of my ongoing research into credit union operations. The very first thing I noticed was the black typewriter sitting at the desk of the receptionist. Yes, a typewriter. No joke. There it was in all of its antiquated ugliness. I was immediately disappointed. I wasn’t disappointed that the credit union was still using a typewriter (after all they actually can be useful when updating documents like titles, etc.) I get that (even though technology has provided us with tools to use that would make the typewriter completely obsolete.) No, I was disappointed that I saw the typewriter. Not only did I see it….it was the first thing I noticed. Now imagine how any young professional might feel if a typewriter was the first thing to be seen as they walked into that credit union. One word comes to mind – old. If your credit union still uses a typewriter, that’s fine. But please hide the damn thing!
As credit unions continue to struggle with attracting and retaining younger members (you know…the ones that they need in order to survive long-term,) I often wonder why it is that these same credit unions insist on hanging onto things that are outdated, obsolete, or just plain silly.
A typewriter is just one example. Take a look around your offices. Take a close look. When was the last time you put in new furniture? HINT: If you’re still using metal desks, it’s time to refurnish. Are your walls cracking and discolored due to the tons of scotch tape that you have used to hang flyers and announcements? Are there piles of manila folders in plain sight?
All of that screams “old!” Young people will not want to do business with an organization that looks and feels as if it needs a major makeover. They are looking for modernity, newness, innovation, and originality. They want an experience more than a transaction. They want convenience at every turn. They want to feel like they are a part of something that is fresh and creative. They don’t want to fill out paperwork and they certainly don’t want to see a lot of clutter. I remember going to the hardware store for my dad when I was a kid. I would walk in and tell Jerry what my father needed and he would point me down an aisle to a row of boxes and tell me I could “probably find one in one of those boxes.” After searching through “those boxes,” sometimes I would find what I was looking for and sometimes I didn’t. There are many reasons why Jerry’s Hardware (and other such stores) disappear. One of them is that new homeowners (who fall mostly into the Gen X or Gen Y demographics) will not just look through “those boxes.” That takes time and it’s not convenient. So they go to Home Depot or Lowe’s where there is order and signs at every aisle to tell them where to find what they need.
Some of you may be wondering why I wrote this post in the first place – after all, there are so many other things that credit unions are concerned about. That’s true. But appearances matter to younger generations. Perception is everything to them.
And as they say….you only get one chance to make a first impression.