6 Tips for Strengthening Customer Service for Seniors
When you answer a customer service phone call, email, or chat, you won’t always find a young adult or middle-aged person on the other end of the line. Sometimes, you’ll find an elderly customer, which will come with its own unique challenges and solutions.
Some people age more gracefully than others, but the mind often begins to deteriorate in the long run. People begin to forget things, and it’s more difficult to figure out basic concepts, like how to operate a computer or resolve a billing issue. When these customers call, they’ll need extra attention, and you’ll need to give it to them.
Here are some suggestions for making the conversation go as smooth as possible.
1. Show Respect
It’s a fairly common pet peeve of seniors to feel like they’re being patronized or belittled when interacting with employees who are younger than them. They might communicate slower, but they certainly aren’t stupid. Instead of talking down to your elderly customers, recognize their wisdom and treat them how you would treat others. If it’s taking longer to reach a solution, don’t let frustration show in your voice. Continue to work with them in a non-condescending tone, and you’ll achieve much better results.
2. Write Things Down
Deafness is one of the most common elements of age, and you want to make sure your message gets across clearly. In addition, the older people get, the more difficult time they have remembering things. Having information written down on a notepad or email is a great way to give them the help they need.
3. Give Coupons
If you want to create lasting relationships with your senior customers, recognize their economic standing. Retirement funds aren’t very forgiving, and seniors can often use special discounts or coupons. If possible, give out coupons whenever possible to cement a good relationship and develop a stronger sense of customer service with your employees.
4. Practice Patience
Seniors often take longer to make decisions, understand your requests, and respond. That doesn’t mean their interactions should be met with frustration or annoyance. Recognize that having patience is the key to resolving an issue successfully. Just remind yourself to slow down, listen carefully, and make sure you get everything right before continuing. Believe it or not, you’ll resolve the issue much more quickly if you slow your pace and remain calm as you help your elderly customers.
5. Brush Up on Communication Techniques
The younger generation tend to prefer chat options and self help tools, while 83 percent of those above the age of 55 prefer calling or talking face-to-face with a live customer service representative. For that reason, you should be well-versed in various forms of communication, including verbal communication. Work on maintaining a cheerful, helpful attitude so that these live customer service experiences can be successful.
6. Just Listen
Many elderly customers are lonely. They don’t necessarily mean to talk excessively or share story after story while discussing matters of business, but when they don’t have many people at home, they often can’t help it. Listening goes a long way. Avoid cutting off their stories. They’ll have a much more pleasant experience and you’ll resolve the problem more fully if you take the time to listen, no matter the topic.
Not every communication experience with your elderly customers will go perfectly, even when you apply these principles. However, if you’re making a concentrated effort to improve the experience and make senior customers feel as valued as anyone else, the risk of losing customers will greatly decrease, and your skills will be much better for it.
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Anna is a freelance writer, researcher, and business consultant from Olympia, WA. A columnist for Entrepreneur.com, iMediaConnection.com and more, Anna specializes in entrepreneurship, technology, and social media trends. Follow her on Twitter and...