More than 76 million baby boomers are turning 65 at a rate of nearly 8,000 per day, and by 2050 seniors will represent more than 20% of the U.S. population. Oh, and one more thing: Boomers still control most of the country’s wealth and wield most of its purchasing power. This shifting demographic means that many retailers will have to update their customer service programs to meet the unique needs of an increasingly aging society.
To build trust — and loyalty — with this important market, understand these key characteristics about it that will help you serve boomers better.
Seniors May Respond More Slowly
As we age, our ability to process information slows down at different rates for different people. It’s a natural process, but it doesn’t mean seniors can’t understand complex ideas. It just may take some a little longer for things to click. Train staff to be patient when an older customer asks multiple questions and needs to have answers repeated. Memory and hearing also can start to degrade, so encourage your staff to write things down or have brochures on hand that customers can take with them to read and process at their own speed.
Seniors Tend to be More Frugal
Baby boomers may control most of the wealth, but that’s because most of them earned it and saved it. They aren’t going to loosen the purse strings now that they are dependent on those savings to sustain them through their retirement. Many are coupon clippers and extremely devoted to loyalty programs that deliver meaningful rewards, so target this market with relevant discount promotions. Seniors also aren’t impulse buyers, so make sure your staff is ready to answer in-depth questions on all of your products. If seniors feel rushed, they will likely walk away before making a purchase they don’t feel confident about.
Seniors Demand — and Deserve — Respect
You train your staff to treat all customers with respect. But while short answers and the occasional sassy response may work with younger generations, they won’t fly with older customers. Seniors may interpret casual responses as rude, and, sadly, even the most patient workers may become exasperated with older customers. Train your staff to connect with seniors by taking their time and listening to their needs. Hire employees who are genuinely friendly and enjoy being helpful — to people in all age ranges.
Like all customers, seniors will remember great customer service experiences, and reward businesses with repeat business and referrals.
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“The Baby Boomer Cohort in the United States: 2012 to 2060,” U.S. Census Bureau, May 2014, found here: https://www.census.gov/prod/2014pubs/p25-1141.pdf
“The Brain Changes as it Ages, Sometimes in Surprising Ways,” Population Reference Bureau, June 2007, found here: http://www.prb.org/Publications/Articles/2007/BrainChanges.aspx
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