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June 21, 2013 — A weekly look at Wyoming business questions from the Wyoming Small Business Development Center (WSBDC), part of WyomingEntrepreneur.Biz, a collection of business assistance programs at the University of Wyoming.
By Susan Jerke, Wyoming Entrepreneur.Biz regional director
“Do you have any advice for working with senior citizen customers?” Ben, Sundance
My 80-year-old mother recently decided she was ready to purchase a new ultra book computer and smart phone. She actually was ready to give up her old “dial-up” service and get wireless Internet, and was excited to share photos and chat with her children and grandchildren.
As any new customer, she approached the sales counter in a big box retailer and asked for assistance. The young man brushed her off and asked if she thought she would be able to learn how to use a modern phone. Without another word, she walked away from the counter, shaking her head in disgust and anger.
My mother said, “Just because my hair is gray and I have a few wrinkles, it does not mean my mind is feeble. I was ready to make a substantial purchase, but I will not shop where I am not respected.”
In your business, keep in mind that your customers might have their peculiarities. They may be elderly or they may be physically challenged, but they are typically serious and very careful about how they spend their money. Take extra time to acknowledge their wisdom and experience, and explain the details and advantages of the product with care.
When any client enters a business, it is the owner’s job to assess their needs and help meet their needs with due respect, courtesy and helpfulness. The entrance and walkways should be accessible and signage should be clear. Have comfortable seating available. Speak with a clear voice, but don’t shout or treat the person like a child. Also, make sure your philosophy and attitude is communicated with every staff member so customer service is always impeccable.
Senior citizen customers bring their purchasing experience to the table. More than 50 percent of the total United States discretionary income is controlled by those age 50 years and older. By the year 2030, there will be twice as many people age 85 and older.
My advice for every customer -- young or old -- is that business owners should give them full attention. Courteously greet them, treat them well and wish them well. Once you win over their hearts, they will become permanent, loyal customers.
A blog version of this article and an opportunity to post comments is available at http://www.wyomingentrepreneur.typepad.com/blog/.
The WSBDC is a partnership of the U.S. Small Business Administration, the Wyoming Business Council and the University of Wyoming. To ask a question, call 1-800-348-5194, email firstname.lastname@example.org or write 1000 E. University Ave., Dept. 3922, Laramie, WY, 82071-3922.