Baby Boomers, Text Messaging and Your Business

Born between 1946 and 1964, Baby Boomers are one of the largest, most influential demographics in American history – simply put, they’re a force to be reckoned with.

If you think Baby Boomers are technology averse, you’re dead wrong. More importantly, if you’ve assumed Baby Boomers wouldn’t want to text your company, you’re likely leaving some serious cash and CSAT chips on the table.

The baby boomer demographic is a prolific contributor to the economy – so much so that think-tanks exist specifically to focus on designing experiences and products that meet baby boomer needs.

A few more fun facts about how important Baby Boomers are to the US economy:

A technological wake-up call

“There’s an assumption that because current seniors are technologically averse, baby boomers will be the same way,” says Chris Bradshaw of BOOMbox Network, a marketing agency focused especially on boomers.

In addition to being thought of as technologically averse, there’s also the completely inaccurate notion that boomers don’t text—that teens really are the texters. In reality, over 85% of boomers have a cell phone, and 68% of younger boomers (ages 47-56) use their phone for texting (a number that’s undoubtedly increased since the 2011 Pew survey).

“Boomers are really into texting,” says Bradshaw. “They love texting and the efficiency of it.”

Part of the reason boomers love texting is that it helps them keep in touch.

“We’re so connected to our family,” says Bradshaw. “As our children change their behavior and communication style, we adapt in order to keep in touch.”

As boomers change how they stay in contact with their kids, they’re also changing how they stay in contact with companies. What they want from companies, however, has stayed more or less the same.

Boomer business

Boomers were raised in an era of personalized service, back when gas station attendants were the norm and fast food joints were in their infancy. As boomers neared adulthood, however, they saw the country slowly but surely transition from personalized service to self-service. As a result, boomers recognize the value of both speed and quality service, which means they’re looking for a few key things from customer support:

Bradshaw says that Boomers aren’t necessarily loyal to one specific brand; rather, they’re looking for ones that deliver on their promises.

“The thing with boomers is, do what you say, say what you do,” says Bradshaw. “Tell me what you want me to care about and make it matter to me.”

However, boomers are also looking for a more digital service experience.

Tying it all together

A lot of companies that specialize in technology cater their products and customer support  to younger generations , but that doesn’t mean baby boomers should be overlooked. We’re talking about a generation where around 30% are on Twitter and 70% use text messaging.

According to a study by Harris Interactive (commissioned by OneReach), 80% of Baby Boomers think it’s frustrating being tied to the phone or computer for customer service. In addition, 69% of all boomers use text messaging, and of those that use text messaging:

  • 57% would have a positive view of a company that offers texting
  • 42% agree it would be convenient if a company offered text for CS
  • 41% would feel the company understands their time is important
  • 39% would use text for any customer service task
  • 37% would prefer to press start to speak with an agent immediately
  • 33% would prefer to use text over options currently available

So why are the preferences of one of the most powerful consumer generations being overlooked?

Text messaging is one of the Baby Boomers most preferred customer support channels. And that’s why every brand offers it, right? Wrong – less than 4% of brands currently offer live or automated support via text message.

What happens when customers text your toll free number? “Nothing” isn’t a good enough answer for anyone, Baby Boomers included.

To learn more about text-enabling your business, professionally designed or do-it-yourself, visit onereach.com.

Photo by Flickr user Quinn Dombrowski.

Published by

Elias Parker

Elias Parker is a Managing Partner at OneReach where he is focused on enabling companies to offer effective, meaningful customer support over text message. With over eight years of experience working with a user experience agency that pioneered the user experience (UX) space, Elias is skilled in ethnography, user experience research, workshop facilitation and crafting highly specialized product research, design and development teams. Elias’ work spans multiple industries and his client portfolio includes Fortune 500 companies such as FedEx, Boeing, Fidelity and Conde Nast to name a few. Elias has a Masters Degree in Ethno-Political Conflict Analysis & Management from Royal Roads University in British Columbia, Canada.

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