When Keith Sanford started his career in the banking industry, there were hardly any ATMs around — much less online banking.
“People my age and older still come into the bank a lot to make deposits and deal with transactions,” he said.
Mr. Sanford, 49, is the executive vice president of First Tennessee Bank in Chattanooga, and he knows first hand how the times have changed.
Today, the younger generation of bank clientele uses technology to avoid entering the bank altogether, he said.
A recent Maritz poll found that while banks’ most loyal customers are baby boomers, their children might be the least so. Generations X and Y also are harder to please and more likely to change banks, with more than half of those who responded reporting they considered changing or have changed banks in the past two years, according to the poll.
Staff Photo by Patrick Smith
W. Keith Sanford, Executive Vice President of First Tennessee stands above the lobby of the First Tennessee on Market Street on Thursday. Some banks are experiencing difficulty establishing loyalty with young bankers, opposed to older boomer customers.
That doesn’t surprise bankers in Chattanooga, who are faced with the challenge of establishing relationships with those younger consumers, who are the customers of the retail banking industry.
Sam Jones, president of FirstBank in Chattanooga, said his bank has begun to invest in services that offer convenience for younger bank clients.
“What we’ve found is that the boomers are pretty good with the Internet and electronic banking; some are real good, some just don’t want to fool with it,” he said. “But the younger folks — that drives them.”
Most of the FirstBank’s younger customers don’t even come into a branch unless it is for some kind of a major type transaction such as a mortgage loan or home equity loan, he said.
As a result, the bank has beefed up its Internet banking system and made it user friendly, he said.
First Tennessee also is working to build loyalty with current and future customers by focusing on easy-to-use services and expanding bank hours to suit more active lifestyles, Mr. Sanford said.
“Back in the old days, banking was 9 to 2. Now we are open 8:30 to 6, and on Saturdays,” he said. “Twenty-five percent of our customers come to the bank when we used to not even be open.”
But once those young customers get a loan, all of that can change. Mr. Jones said when it comes to more complicated transactions, they still seek the guidance of bank employees. Like their baby boomer counterparts, they want that person to help them with all of their needs, he said.
With everyday transactions, convenience is key, Mr. Jones said.
“They want to be able to do it quick,” he said. “ But when it comes down to something that is a major purchase, I think they still want that individual attention.”