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Understanding the Service Preferences of Millennials and Baby Boomers

Millennials and baby boomers and styles of service

Similar to how everyone has different communication preferences in this constantly plugged-in world, most of us have preferred service styles as well. That’s probably always been the case to a degree. When you go to a retail store, do you like to browse unrushed, or consult with a professional to give recommendations while you shop and compare? This can vary depending on what you’re shopping for, as some items need more personalized service. Other times, we know exactly what we want, and how we can get it as quickly as possible is our primary concern.

Now that we have the ability to research just about everything before we step out the door, many of us still prefer to research at our own pace. If it’s a large or personally significant purchase like a car or a house, this period can last months. But once we’ve made our decision, we want the transaction to go as quickly and smoothly as possible.

It’s often generalized that service preferences break along generational lines, like communication preferences. With a home purchase, for instance, it’s often the perception that millennials want to self-serve and do everything digitally while baby boomers prefer “old school,” where they sit down with a trusted Loan Officer who can answer all their questions. The fact is, this is not necessarily the case. Each generation may want different levels of service at different times, particularly with such large purchase.

Fast or Personal – What’s Your Clients’ Preference?

In the current time of online applications and digital documents transfers, people who are comfortable with this type of technology may get frustrated with the minutia of tracking down and copying paycheck stubs, bank statements, tax returns, etc. and then faxing or scanning to your lender. They prefer to press a button on their online banking app and send the necessary forms in minutes. More traditional shoppers might prefer to opt for hard-copy records because they feel more secure.

We tend to think the younger the customer, the more comfortable they are with doing business digitally, and this is probably true overall. But there may come a time in a transaction when the roles reverse. This is especially true for home purchases. Early on, millennials tend to self-serve with their research but they also appreciate relevant advice from professional, particularly if it helps them avoid a “rookie mistake.”

Roles May Reverse

Once younger, or first-time buyers, decide to buy and the application process complete, a shift often occurs. They may now want to slow down the process with a lot of one-on-one service from their lender or Real Estate Agent, who can walk them through the entire experience. For the lender, this includes going over the types of loans they qualify for, what the pros and cons are for each, and what is best for them in the short and long term.

For the Real Estate Agent, they likely appreciate when they’re talked through the inspection, appraisal, negotiating with the selling agent, making sure all agreed-upon repairs are complete and signed off and copies of permits for past work are secured, etc.

More experienced buyers – baby boomers, for instance – who have done a few home purchases in their day, may prefer the opposite. They may want to be more methodical in the beginning, to ensure their records are safe and they’re getting the best deal possible but once that is done, they don’t need coaching. They’re ready to roll.

Some call the difference “high tech” vs. “high touch” service. When do you want high tech? Millennials usually in the beginning and middle. Boomers want it at the end. They’ve made their decision and are ready to close.

Understanding what clients want at every step of the process is a great way to establish trust and ensure their comfort level throughout the transaction. You may then be rewarded with future recommendations.  

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