She’s looking for her Cricket manual, but all she hears are crickets

When Mona Palmer bought a new Cricket cell phone, she assumed it would be as easy to use as — well, a cell phone.

It wasn’t.

Palmer is a retired office manager, and like many baby boomers, today’s technology doesn’t always come easy. She reached out to our research team to see if we had executive contacts for Cricket.

“It is my first smart phone but I don’t have a computer to print out the 100-plus-page manual and I am having a hard time trying to figure out how to do much more than make a phone call or answer one,” she confessed. “Did I mention that I am 70 years old and technology loves to torment me?”

Stories like Palmer’s tug on my emotions. I see a seasoned consumer, coming from a generation that didn’t give a second thought about contacting customer service; you called, you conversed, you got results. And, usually within minutes.

Today, the same call is more likely to be answered by a computer voice that will ask you to enter details it won’t retain and will thoughtlessly place you on hold.

You’ll go through purgatory as you explain the issue to three different representatives. You may not be able to understand these employees, either because of dialect or their speed-of-sound speech, with the final insult being they’re of no help whatsoever.

So, you’ve lost this round, but you go back to your computer and research further resolutions.

Ah, but you have a computer. You have options.

Customers like Palmer who aren’t Internet-savvy at a dead end. And she’s not alone.

A 2014 survey by the Pew Research Trust on the topic of senior citizens and technology showed that 41 percent of seniors did not use the Internet, citing reasons such as skepticism about technology, intimidation by the difficulty, and physical challenges of working with an electronic device. These are all fears that companies should be attuned to if they want to capture what is a sizeable demographic.

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Palmer’s request is simple: a) to obtain access to the manual for her Cricket phone, and b) get easy instructions to describe her Cricket phone’s features. And to do this without the use of a computer.

What are companies doing to provide hard-copy resources (including manuals and easy-to-understand guides) to seniors, for those who can’t access the content any other way?

As Entrepreneur magazine puts it, good communication with seniors is the key.

“Seniors are an important, but often overlooked, demographic,” it advises. “Tailoring your customer support to their unique needs will help you build customer loyalty and position your business for success as the demographic continues to grow and change.”

Palmer wants company contacts for Cricket, perhaps to get that personal connection referred to earlier and a trademark of happier times long ago in the customer service industry. (Our research team is on the case, by the way.) Since we’ve already got contacts for four of the major cellular carriers, there’s no reason not to add one more.

We’d much rather Pearson hear the chorus of “Thank you for using Cricket,” as opposed to hearing a “chorus of crickets” in her earpiece after dialing 1-800-CRICKET. Wouldn’t you?

Should Cricket provide manuals for customers without computers?

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Peggy White-Davis

Peggy White-Davis is a freelance and technical writer who lives in O'Fallon, Missouri. In addition to traveling with her husband, she is not afraid to strike out on her own in search of new and exciting vistas. Peggy is also a published music arranger. When not writing, she volunteers as a biographer for hospice patients in the St. Louis, Missouri area.

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