My father is 92 years old. He still does a lot of things independently, like banking, shopping for groceries, buying clothing, and having his car repaired.
Let’s classify him as a “nonagenarian consumer.” For obvious reasons, it's not a big market segment. But it’s a segment that offers some wonderful insights in service delivery.
As a 92-year-old he’s fiercely loyal. He has favorite vendors for just about every product or service he consumes. He calls the bank tellers, the supermarket cashiers, the automotive mechanics and the librarians his “friends.” And if you ever saw how they treat him, you’d understand why.
When a company can make a 92-year old comfortable enough to call them "friends," they’re doing something right.
And those things they do don’t require skills beyond what our parents taught us. But done consistently, they can produce that same intense loyalty among customers of any age.
So, what exaclty do my father’s “friends” do, that earn this loyalty?
They listen well.
When a person is 90, we tend to listen more carefully. We tend to think more deeply about what they’ve said, to make sure we understand them completely; what they are actually asking of us; what it is that they need.
They’re extremely accommodating.
When my father goes to the bank, the tellers great him by name. They seem to go out of their way to make the experience easier for him. If he’s making a deposit, they’ll fill out the deposit slip for him. (They don’t normally do this for other customers.) They’re more accommodating with my father, because of his age. They do whatever they can, to make the transaction easier for him.
They know their customer, and they use that knowledge.
Dad goes to the library a lot. He reads a lot about history and archeology. If a new book arrives on either subject, the librarians may put it aside for him, knowing that he’ll stop in during the week. On more than one occasion, they’ve checked out new arrival in his name, and delivered it to his home, as a surprise. No wonder he calls these people his friends.
Listening more carefully, being more accommodating and making an effort to better know and serve your customers is something that any company can begin doing better, immediately.
The “Nonagenarian Rule of Customer Service” says to respect every customer as though they are 90 years old. Follow this rule with all your customers, regardless of their age, and they just might continue buying from you well into their 90’s.