Millennials! Millennials! Millennials! Sometimes GenX-ers and Baby Boomers tend to feel like Jan Brady whining the woes of being overlooked by brands who cater to the preferences of the favorite child – Millennials. The more Millennials lean toward doing everything digitally and demanding more personalization, the more brands serve through digital means, resulting in a gradual disconnect from the more mature – more traditional – crowd.
And while GenX-ers have adapted to the new way of doing business with brands (and in some ways are even more digitally adept and addicted than Millennials), there is still a large population in the world that has found themselves fighting the force of progress far too long. Baby Boomers are suddenly waking up to the reality that they need to learn a few things more than Facebook in order to take care of day-to-day activities.
For example, paying bills or scheduling appointments once had to be done over the phone, in person or through the mail. Although people have been able to continue these tasks in the traditional way, there will very soon be a day when it’s no longer an option. Utility companies take bill payments online, as it is more immediate than waiting for mailed checks, and records can be kept more accurately when the transaction is made electronically. Furthermore, many physicians prefer their patients to schedule appointments online to ensure accuracy, delivery of automatic reminders and a more efficient front desk staff. (Accenture predicts that by the end of 2019, 66% of US health systems will offer digital self-scheduling.) Both online bill-pay and scheduling are also convenient for the customer or patient.
So what happens when Boomers find themselves having to reconcile a bank statement online or visit with grandkids via video call for the first time? They will need a proactive customer assistance if no “kids” are around to help them.
What does this customer assistance look like? It could be any one or any combination of the following:
- Self-service tools in the form of automated guides that take customers through a decision tree of questions that lead them to the page or representative they need.
- FAQ – A prominently displayed button to a list of Frequently Asked Questions, for those simple issues that are common for everyone.
- Virtual assistants (VAs) – a smart self-service tool that has the humanized look and feel of live chat. They can be used for simple issues at any time – even when a live agent is unavailable.
- Agent-assisted tools such as live chat – Give the customer a real person to speak to without having to call on the phone and wait for twenty minutes to talk to someone. Communicating through online chat may also be a blessing for visitors who have difficulty hearing clearly over the phone.
- Another agent-assisted option is co-browsing, for those moments of great confusion when trying to manage an online account or pay a bill. A live chat representative can walk through the process step-by-step with the customer, having a visual of what the customer is seeing in real time and showing them how to navigate so the customer can do it for themselves on the next visit.
- For those that are more comfortable dealing with questions over the phone, they can be helped through the process with a natural, intuitive, conversational IVR. (Believe it or not, there are many boomers who are smart and savvy with their smartphone; so don’t leave out the option of transferring from IVR to digital customer engagement like VA, live chat or messaging.)
Not only do brands need to provide these options, they must educate on the availability of these options:
- On paper bills, place a highly visual note that encourages customers to visit the website and find answers to questions online.
- On the website, implement business rules that trigger proactive invitations to chat with visitors who seem to be hesitating.
- Place a “click-to-chat” button on the bottom right of the screen that is easily seen.
- In the same location of the website, place a Call-to-Action that invites visitors to start a self-service guide to help them find what they need.
A growing number of elderly consumers have joined the digital age and are enjoying it, thanks to user-friendly websites of brands who have discovered that this generation is still a vital part of their livelihood. (Boomers made about 15.1 online purchases last year, but they spent the most online at an average of $203. KPMG)
For instance, having a more disposable income and spending more time online (15 hours a week), more and more grandparents have discovered the convenience of ordering gifts online for their grandchildren and having them shipped directly to the recipient.
Online grocery shopping is another popular digital consumer activity. Not only Baby Boomers, but customers of all ages, are wondering why they didn’t do their grocery shopping online before! (One quarter of global consumers say they order grocery products online, and 70% will do it in the next 10 years. Furthermore, online food shopping is expected to grow to make up 20% of the total U.S. food and beverage sales by 2025. CNBC) How easy it is to pick out everything on their list and have it delivered to their front door! Not only is it a time-saver, but they don’t have to brave the Saturday afternoon crowded aisles.
Perks like these make the daunting step into technology all worth it! And as long as brands provide easy self-service and convenient live assistance, performing essential tasks the non-traditional way will become a welcome tradition.