Gray Power: Customers respond well to older workers

Some employers believe that their youthful customers will be turned off by older employees.

They believe that customers want young, energetic salespeople, and that their customers will shop elsewhere if they have to deal with an older adult.

This thinking comes from the notion that older adults are slower and unable to provide the same level of service as younger workers, that they are not as intellectually adept and not able to provide information as readily and that they will alienate customers by being unskilled in interpersonal relationships.

Reality: Retirees are often sought after by customers because of their attention to service.

In a study, older workers were viewed as possessing experience, skill and knowledge by 72 percent of the respondents.

Other studies reported older adults generally value tact and diplomacy, while younger workers value candor and honesty.

Older workers are beginning to establish a reputation as providers of stellar customer service and courtesy.

Many service industries have begun to seek out older adults because of their consistent provision of excellence in service to the customer.

Home Depot reported that customers prefer in many instances to do business with its older employees.

There are strategies for those seeking employment. They include:

– Stress your background in dealing with customers and with difficult people.

– Provide examples of how you have successfully dealt with difficult people in challenging situations.

– Discuss your values of tact, diplomacy, and courtesy, and demonstrate these qualities during the interview process.

Here are some strategies that may help you keep your job.

– Because of today&8217;s emphasis on total quality management (TQM) and excellence in service, be sure to follow your employer&8217;s lead on dealing with the customer.

– Be attentive to your customers and ensure that their needs are being met.

– Provide your employers with ideas and suggestions for more effectively meeting customers&8217; needs.

This information came from the book, UnRetirement by Fyock and Dorton.

Dr. Marvin Copes, located in Maylene, is an Education and Community Service Volunteer for AARP Alabama. He can be reached by e-mail at