Marteny: Reaching out to senior customers

Everyone has heard time and again about the aging population and that methods of doing things will have to change to facilitate their needs.

  • Jun. 11, 2011 3:00 p.m.

Everyone has heard time and again about the aging population and that methods of doing things will have to change to facilitate their needs.

However, until you are actually involved with caring for an older senior, you don’t truly understand what that means.

Forward thinking companies have asked me to train employees on how to provide better service for their senior customers.

Most companies are respectful towards seniors but don’t realize the difficulties that seniors have while buying the company’s products or services.

Companies need to know that by making simple changes it can make tremendous differences to their senior customers, which will ultimately help the bottom line.

My specialty is working with what I call “elderly seniors” who are 80 or older. People who are between the ages of 70 years to 80 years I think of as “junior seniors.”

When a company becomes “senior friendly,” it is not just the elderly seniors, but also those junior seniors, who will become customers.

Seniors pay attention to the recommendations of their peers as to where to spend their money.

It is not the intent of companies to ignore the needs of seniors.

It is usually the case of not yet realizing that better service can be provided.

Companies also do not know what those improvements are or where to look for recommendations and solutions.

When employees are not properly trained to service senior customers, then it is awkward for the employees who want to treat seniors with dignity and respect but do not know how.

Companies need to train employee now to maintain their senior customer base and increase it by being pro-active to the changing needs.

The needs of seniors with hearing and vision impairments, arthritis and a multitude of age related ailments must be taken into account.

Seniors can feel the cold more and therefore, in a restaurant should not be seated close to an air conditioner.

Background music can be frustrating for a senior with hearing aids.

Signs on public washroom doors can be confusing.

If there was a female or male figure along with ‘women’ or ‘men’ posted on the doors, this would help the seniors know that they are using the proper washroom and prevent an embarrassing moment.

These are examples of the type of changes needed.

Another example is a soup company that designed a holder for its cans of soup which displays a picture of the type and in large print states the name of the soup.

The holder allows the senior to quickly find the soup and easily remove the can from the display, instead of trying to read all of the cans on the shelf.

Seniors do not know to ask for these improved services.  If companies invest in training its employees to properly provide products and services, the seniors will have a better experience and tell their friends.

The most important thing is that all seniors are treated with dignity and respect and given as much independence as possible.

Sharen Marteny is a services consultant for seniors in Kelowna.



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