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Wednesday, September 13, 2017

5 Mistakes Businesses Make When Serving Older Adults

Top 5 Best Practices When Serving Older Adults

What you don't know about aging, can't can hurt you.

Today, age 50 plus consumers account for more than half of adult consumers in the United States. What's more, Baby Boomers control 70% of all discretionary money. If your business is neglecting the older adult consumer, it's time to stop. Every day, 10,000 Americans turn 65 - a trend that will continue until 2029. Businesses that continue to ignore the changing age demographics are going to be left behind.

In order to stay relevant, businesses need an understanding of the older consumer and the adaptations in product functions, service design, marketing and ethical considerations that are necessary for success when serving older adults.

5 Mistakes Businesses Make When Serving Older Adults

Let’s examine some of the first key steps a business can take to improve product and service offerings to older adults:

  1. Not modifying their business processes.

    One of the most common mistakes business make when dealing with older consumers is the execution of a contract, policy, or legal document. Abandon the traditional method of quickly simplifying the legalese and saying sign here. You might get away with this when dealing with a younger audience, but older adults find this practice very off-putting and untrustworthy. Instead, give them the opportunity to take the contract home to read or share with a trusted advisor, caregiver, family member, or friend. Older adults are well aware of the numerous financial scams targeting seniors. Consequently, they are often more cautious when entering contracts. Additionally, businesses should be adaptable to things like hearing loss, sight loss, cognitive issues, fear of exploitation, and more when working with an older adult on a contract.

  2. Not making business communication friendly for the mature consumer.

    Are your communication efforts to older adults being ignored or misunderstood? Hearing declines with age and, typically, high frequencies are affected first. Do not use someone with a high-pitched voice for direct communication with a senior.

  3. Not adding technology to your business.

    Do not assume that all older adults are not tech savvy when contemplating adding technology to your business. Many older adults welcome the advantages technology brings. Furthermore, older adults who struggle with technology can help you identify the places where you can simplify or improve your systems. An older adult's struggle with your technology is often the proverbial "canary in the coal mine" for a sub-par user experience by everyone. For those who are not tech savvy always have alternatives available, along with a great help desk or customer service person on standby.

  4. Not growing your professional network beyond your industry silo.

    Stay on top of best practices for serving older adults by participating in an interactive and multi-disciplinary professional group where sharing information and collaborating is beneficial to everyone. If however your professional connections are heavily concentrated in your own industry, your capacity to offer solutions beyond your specific expertise is limited.

  5. Not listening.

    What is the single most important thing to do when communicating with senior clients, potential clients, their families, their caregivers, or their trusted advisor? LISTEN! Make the senior feel highly respected. Older adults want to feel like their specific needs are being heard, and they want to be involved in the decision making process. Communicating primarily with their children or caregiver will leave the senior feeling ostracized, greatly diminishing your chances of repeat or referral business.

There's an Event for That!

If you want an opportunity to explore solutions specific to your business the Society of Certified Senior Advisor’s The Business of Aging VIA Sessions will provide opportunities for attendees to interact with subject matter experts, coaches and other participants to analyze their own businesses through the lens of our changing age demographic.

Participants will be encouraged to develop the knowledge, skills, attitudes and competencies needed for decision making, problem solving and imagination that are most valued in today’s successful aging enterprises. Attendees will review their own businesses, identify areas for improvement, develop specific objectives and incorporate new opportunities. Join other like-minded professionals working to improve their business practices while serving older adults during the 2017 VIA Sessions being held this November in Denver, Colorado.

When: November 3-5, 2017

Where: The Westin Denver Downtown, 1672 Lawrence St, Denver, CO