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Monday, May 16, 2022

A Tech Concierge May Increase Your Business Catering to Over-60s

If you haven’t created a tech concierge position to help clients set up and maintain software and hardware, you may be missing out on creating brand loyalty and increased ROI.  

Seniors are increasingly reliant on technology to stay in touch with family and friends, keep up with finances, monitor their health, and access a host of everyday activities. A recent AARP survey found that most older adults have a more positive feeling about using technology compared to how they felt before the pandemic. However, it is still easy to get hung up when trying to video chat or install a new skill on Alexa, for example. 

The role of tech concierge has come to the forefront for senior living facilities in particular, although it could apply to many businesses serving older adults. Often, these are people who know the organization’s platforms and the devices it uses, and they are trained to help residents and staff utilize the technology.

Outsourcing a Tech Concierge

It is not always easy to fill positions in today’s hiring climate. You may choose to outsource a tech concierge. Sentrics can provide phone support or in-house services. Their phone line is available 24/7, and you will never get a recording or be rerouted. Another such service is Tech Concierge. Both of these companies will help your company’s staff, clients, or both.

“I would encourage everyone to jump in so that you can begin experimenting with this role and seeing how to position it for the future,” says Tammy Farris, Director of Strategic Innovation at Watermark senior living in Tucson. “Because I think it is going to change from what we even know of it today.”

Technology Use Is Growing Among Seniors

Around three years ago, Watermark began offering classes at its senior living facilities to teach residents how to use email, share photos, make video calls, and perform other tasks. This was helpful, but many residents needed more assistance with the tools or wanted to learn how to do other things. In a single community, staff was spending about 60 hours per week helping with tech questions. 

“We were surprised at the volume of requests, and so that’s when we started to talk about this concept of having a tech concierge,” says Farris. United Methodist Communities was on a similar path. They had a technician who traveled between their four retirement communities, beginning about four years ago. Although many of their clients were tech-averse, technology was playing an increasingly important role in their daily lives and providing a higher quality experience. 

“So we knew we had to meet that need, because it was certainly under met,” says Travis Gleinig, Director of IT at United Methodist Communities.

What a Tech Concierge Does

This may be a dedicated position, or it could fall to another staff member as part of their duties. Whichever the case, this person should be trained in how to work with older adults and have expansive knowledge of technology installation and use. On one day, they may be asked to install a voice assistant and set up capabilities, and on another, find and install a magnifier app on a smartphone.

“We’re definitely pulling out job descriptions and postings for multiple positions and emphasizing the ability to embrace technology,” says Farris. “You have to have patience…compassion, and you have to be a good teacher.”

Billing For a Tech Concierge

Many communities are beginning to consider rolling the cost of the position into their monthly charges. After all, it can be a selling point to let families know that a tech concierge is included in the fee.

“If you include from the get-go that technology interaction — ‘You have this, and here’s how you use it, and I’ll come by your apartment when you move in and I’ll get you onboarded’ — that’s a totally different experience,” says Gleinig. “And that’s way more valuable than the community down the road that says, ‘Here, we have XYZ, and good luck.’”

Others are choosing to bill for the time separately, usually in 15 or 30-minute increments. For example, Watermark charges $15 for 15 minutes. “I think it’s definitely going to end up in the direction where a community has a tech concierge as part of the cost of living here,” says Gleinig.

No matter how the position is implemented, it can only help residents and their families feel more confident and cared for. Even as new residents become more tech-savvy over the coming years, technology itself will become increasingly complicated. Having a tech concierge may be the difference between choosing one residence over another.