There is a lot that a communications campaign can do, but it can’t take the place of good, old-fashioned customer service. There are many companies out there that talk a good game but how well do they really listen to their customers and try to meet their (ever-changing) needs?
Case in point: I recently met a lovely 80-something woman named Betty. While she truly believes in “by the community, for the community,” Betty will tell you now that she is simply a homemaker. In reality, this silver-haired, soft-spoken beauty has served the Indianapolis community since she was in her 20s. As a young health professional, she even helped open a community health center to serve the needs of her southwest side neighborhood. She helped find ways to pay the bills to keep it afloat too, even if that meant rummage sales and organizing neighborhood carnivals.
Betty remains active as she has aged. She serves on a local board and continues to try and make her lifelong neighborhood a safe, welcoming place for everyone, especially people who are aging. She is a strong advocate for supporting locally owned businesses but sometimes even this community activist is pushed to the chain stores.
For some time, Betty has told her local grocery store owner that they should consider adding chairs or benches around the store so the older shoppers could rest as they shopped. Betty recounted times when she has had to lean against soda displays when she gets tired. The manager responded by saying they had a folding chair in the office. Now how is that going to help an older shopper who may be back in the freezer section when she can’t stand up any longer?
Reluctantly, Betty has decided to frequent a chain store that has the electric carts to help her navigate the larger floorplan. It makes her sad because she’d much rather spend her money locally.
You may argue that stores can only spend so much to cater to one subset of its audience. Here’s the thing – this niche audience is large and, with Baby Boomers reluctant aging, growing. One of four Hoosiers will be age 65 and older in the next 30 years.
It may be hard for Gen X (and Gen Y) business owners to imagine a day when they are too tired to make it through a grocery store without sitting down. But this is a reality for many seniors (and people with disabilities and people suffering from illness and young parents shopping with the kids and…)
Do you want to be the business with the folding chair in the office or the forward thinking business that listens to its customers and prepares for a future of serving them the way they need and ask?