Our parents had the patience to teach us how to read, ride a bike and drive a car. Now, it’s our turn to give back. We all know elderly folks love to chat, but do they know how to live chat? Does your grandmother realize she could circumvent 30 minutes of waiting for a live agent while listening to the Muzak version of Metallica’s ‘Master of Puppets’ by jumping onto her laptop and chatting with a customer service rep online? Probably not. But that’s no fault of your grandmother.
I’d guess the businesses she works either don’t offer a live chat option or don’t advertise it enough to their over 65 customer base. Your hip grandmother would love to ‘live chat it up’ but she probably doesn’t even know it exists! Businesses are funny that way in that they aren’t going to push anything if they don’t think it’s going to be received well (except Pepsi Kona & Pepsi Clear – totally pushed out). Why introduce live chat to your elderly customers if you think they are going to scoff at it? Hey business, you’re wrong.
Regardless of what age group you hail from, live chat works as a customer service and sales gateway and should be presented to all customers, especially the elderly, as an alternate communication channel. Grandparents will not only use live chat to communicate but it’s a way better method of communication for their age group because it caters to their learning strengths.
Live chat interactions harken back to the days when the customer came first. Companies that offer live chat as a multi-channel interaction are basically saying ‘Hey customer, I love you. I know you may not want to waste time on the phones waiting for an agent. You are a multi-tasker. I understand that and totally respect your POV. Just jump online and I’ll answer your questions while you do other things.’ Live chat is as much a part of great customer service as cookie dough is an essential part of a great ice cream flavor. But can live chat be used to improve customer relationships to an over 65 client base? You bet!
If you are a small business with a large over 65 client base and thinking you shouldn’t invest in live chat because it’s going to be as popular as a McDonalds kiosk at a vegetarian convention, think again. The over-65 age group is growing twice as fast as the general population. More people = more customers = you should have multiple communication channels to please the communication tastes of a broader audience. If you enjoyed that last ice cream analogy, think less single flavor and more Neapolitan. If you show up at a party with that Neapolitan half-gallon, you are going to make more people happy than rolling in with the strawberry alone.
Maybe you aren’t impressed by population growth statistics or analogies involving frozen milk. Maybe you think live chat as a customer contact channel for the elderly is more of a ‘you can’t teach an old dog new tricks’ issue, so why bother. Well, consider these facts. In the last 3 months, the age group of 65 – 100 recorded the biggest gain in Facebook users. And the second largest gain was from the 55 – 64 age group. Furthermore, the fastest growing age group among tablet users as a whole is the elderly (65+). The elderly are embracing technology. If your business isn’t adopting new communication technology like live chat, you could be losing out on winning over the hip grandparent market.
Implementing live chat could be the difference between winning and losing the business love of any age group. 65% of American shoppers use it. 20% say it’s the best way to communicate with customer service reps in real-time. Most importantly, it’s an easy technology to use. No complicated website navigation or learning curve. If you know how to use FireFox and how to type, you can use live chat. That’s good for the elderly because researchers have found that as a group, they are more easily distracted than younger adults when learning something new.
Open chat sessions represent an easy to follow running log of the entire agent – customer conversation. With live chat, the end-user can refer back to the conversation saved in the chat box rather than having to recall every detail spoken over the phone. Did you know elderly people learn better by reading? Studies have shown print media is best for conveying information to the elderly. This is because they can process the info at their own pace. Pertaining to live chat, this means your elderly customers can read and re-read the chat session until it sinks in, no matter how long it takes.
By this point you are probably pretty convinced your elderly customers are going to start using live chat and really benefit from it. Hooray for you! When you are ready to install it, here are some recommendations on how to make sure your live chat module is retiree friendly:
- Font size should be large enough for the older consumer.
- The Chat box should be uncluttered and structurally pretty simple.
- Maximum contrast in color combinations should be used to compensate for age-related reduction in contrast perception. (HINT: Reds, yellows, and oranges are best perceived by the elderly)
Now that your chat module is installed and loved by all age groups, you need to understand basic chat etiquette. Translation: how should your agents behave in a chat session.
Live chat for business isn’t the same as chatting on Skype or AIM where it’s appropriate to LOL and IDK all over the place. Here are some tips that are applicable to all age groups.
The live chatters in your organization should be warm and friendly, making folks feel comfortable and appreciated. With respect to the elderly, mimicking familiar phrases such as “Hi there! How can I help you today?” can make the chat session less alien to older folks. Be formally-informal and avoid any ‘Mr. Roboto’ type answers. But be machine fast. Instant response prevents frustrating confusion. 89% of Live Chat users say speediness is critical. Know your stuff. 93% say knowledgeable chatters are the most important factor in determining the success of problem resolution. To be universally age group friendly, chatters should be able to communicate technological jargon in lay terms.
The bottom line is live chat works and is growing in terms of a preferred customer service or sales channel. The elderly population is flocking to new technology like Trekkies to a Start Trek Convention so marketing live chat better to your elderly customers makes sense. And the makeup of a chat session works better with how elderly people learn. It’s a win – win situation!
This article has been provided by Nicolas D’Alleva. Nicolas is a marketing consultant for Specialty Answering Service. In addition to basic answering service with live operator support, Specialty can also manage more advanced call applications like live chat campaigns. Please follow SAS on Twitter and Google + for more great posts.