By Srinivasa Ramakrishna — Senior Director – Digital Customer Experience Practice, Capgemini-India
When we talk of Customer Experience, the first thought probably coming to mind is about businesses reaching out to Gen Y and Gen Z. Nothing wrong in that, except that there’s an equally important customer cohort that offers a huge opportunity for enterprises to enhance CX or Net Promoter Scores (NPS) – senior citizens!
This demographic profile, comprising people 60 years and older, is what we refer to as senior citizens. In India, the number of senior citizens stands at approximately 140 million, and is projected to rise significantly over the next decade. With their global population projected to hit one billion by 2030 and spending power close to $15 trillion, rest assured this group will have huge impact on business going ahead.
New vistas expanding CX for seniors
Of late, we have begun to see remarkable changes in senior citizens. This demographic profile is more technologically adept, are curious about things around, and willing to spend. This is a generation that relates well to messaging that aligns with new-age values and lays the foundation for a long-term relationship based on trust.
Take travel and hospitality, for instance. Travel companies are crafting tours meant only for them. Their penchant for consumerism today is leading companies to design platforms exclusively dedicated to products and services exclusively addressed and designed for senior citizens.
And we find examples across the industry – SBI’s doorstep banking was a huge hit when it was launched, while ICICI and Axis banks have dedicated divisions to attend to senior citizens; property dealers like Ashiana provide properties exclusively suited for the elderly; and Carvaan Radio run by Saregama runs programmes for senior citizens.
Healthcare leads in CX for the elderly
The elderly population in India is estimated to rise to 20% by 2050. As life expectancy rises, so does the requirement in healthcare. In the case of senior citizens, it isn’t just about the movement from treatment to wellness. It’s also about delivery of consistent healthcare, which means being independent without dependence on caregivers.
Several innovations in healthcare have enhanced CX for seniors. AI and its subset of machine learning (ML) has been instrumental in introducing several innovations for the elderly like health monitoring and early diagnosis. AI is used for continuous remote monitoring of activity and patterns of behaviour for purpose of early detection of medical issues and for establishing a treatment pathway.
At their advanced age, there are also options available for virtual companions; this human touch has transformed the lives of elderly people. Besides health, social bonding, and recreation tourism, medical tourism is top-of-mind for senior citizens, and these are some areas for businesses and start-ups to focus on to enhance customer experience.
Frictionless experience – a core denominator
There is further segmentation among senior citizens based on physical and cognitive abilities, gender, etc. In travel for instance, gender or age have lesser influence compared with education, occupation, and status, which determine people’s lifestyle. For example, elderly people prefer travelling during non-peak season and use all channels for interaction. It is therefore important to integrate all channels to give a seamless experience to end users.
One finding is that elderly people who use online channels have more spending power and are more inclined to take a tour against those who only use kiosks. This indicates that frictionless experience, accessibility, and ease of completing the journey are not only important for completing a transaction but are fundamental requirements for this group.
eCommerce is one sector that is warming up to senior citizens. Internet usage has been steadily rising among the elderly. More senior citizens own tablets and smartphones than before. One challenge for business enterprises in attracting this segment towards eCommerce is the additional emphasis on “ease of use” and frictionless experience.
Senior citizens buy products that offer value and ready to pay extra if delivered right. Simple aids that can enable a frictionless experience, like integrating products with smart speakers, makes the customer journey easier. Similarly, small changes like larger text and images, or not asking too many security questions, are able to create a truly seamless experience.
Senior citizens are not just focused on quality of products and services, but also on how they are delivered. A great way to transform the experience for the elderly is also by tying together the physical and digital worlds, such as Pay-on-Delivery or near-store collection. While most customers want to feel valued, seniors are loyal to brands and businesses that treat them with dignity and respect.
Improving the focus on CX for senior citizens
Customer experience for the 60-year-plus population is said to be the mother of all untapped markets. In an age where hyper-personalization is taking centerstage for improving customer experience, enhancing the experience for senior citizens will be key to business going ahead.
New-age technologies like AI/ML will be pivotal in defining CX for seniors, but we still need more scientific research, as well as application and combining of various functions for addressing specific needs of seniors. Organizations that can tap this potential will not only deliver the best customer experience but also tap into potentially one of the most lucrative markets.