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Is technology making it harder to do business?

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By Gerry Criscenzo

Nielsen marketing states that 50% of the U.S. population will soon be over the age of 50, control 70% of the nation’s disposable income, and stand to inherit $15 trillion in the next 20 years. This is The Silent Generation, born 1925-45 and Baby Boomers, born 1946-64. While some are tech savvy, many are not, and some companies have practically abandoned them when technology is the only way to do business with them.

This legion of customers with so much buying power has begun to lose their independence

with failing eyesight and hearing. Many don’t use email, own a computer and can’t see the small screen of a smart phone. When “digital channels” for customer experience replace the physical touch for cost savings, it’s another barrier to independence, increasing reliance on their caregivers.  This creates a poor customer experience for many people in a single transaction.

Tech gives industries groundbreaking ways to serve their customers but it mustn’t supplant human touch. Customer experience is about emotions and tech can make “tech challenged” people feel inadequate.

Businesses must often meet legal requirements to provide physical access to mobility or sight-challenged people even if the percentage of customers that it helps is small. Perhaps there should be requirements for the technology-challenged. At the very least, a business should review its technology and how their customers interact with it.

Case in point: 

My Dad recently had medical  home monitoring for about two months to transmit his weight, blood pressure, and oxygen. The sensing devices (a scale, blood pressur cuff, and oxygen finger-tip sensor) transmitted to a tablet via Bluetooth, which then transmitted to the hospital nurses.

The sensors were the same equipment found in a doctor’s office. The visiting nurses had no problem getting the right readings when they came to my parents’ home, but it was not so simple for my parents. My Dad has slight dementia and my Mom is legally blind. I’m their caregiver and would get a call about every other day from the nurses saying the readings seemed wrong or they didn’t get any, requiring me to drive 45 minutes (one way) to help them get the proper readings. In this situation, these sensors should be designed for even greater simplicity.

Note: When a family caregiver is involved, companies must understand they are dealing with two distinctly different customers at once: the person(s) receiving the service AND their caregiver, who may be a strong influencer. You must cater to both.

Business phone systems are often a nightmare for older tech-challenged people: getting the wrong person or department or no choice but to leave a message for an “agent” to call you back at “their” convenience, not the customer’s.

For growth, companies must perpetually attract and cultivate new customers from newer generations such as meeting the new demands of Millennials. But attracting a new customer is seven times more costly than retaining existing customers. So why would any company abandon legions of existing customers by making it more difficult for them to do business?

If you find it difficult to do business with a company due to technology, let them know. You’re a customer with a loud voice who still controls a great deal of spending power.

If you’re a company implementing tech or designing enhancements to customer experience, make sure you are not excluding any group of customers.

About the Author

Gerry Criscenzo is a Customer Experience Designer/Expert/Trainer and Founder of Advanced Service Knowledge. In his 25+ year career in Customer Service he has worked with Fortune 500 companies in technology and automotive industries.  He is passionate about helping companies design exceptional experiences for their customers. He can be reached at 617-275-2276 or at www.CustomersAreGold.com.

 

Reprinted from the July 2019 edition of the South Shore Senior News.

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