Tech For Seniors Creates New Opportunities For Product Managers

Tech assistance for seniors is a booming business
Tech assistance for seniors is a booming business
Image Credit: Province of British Columbia

How do you feel about using your computer? If you are like most of us, you can accomplish most things: sending email, attending a Zoom meeting, making a doctor’s appointment, etc. However, doing many of these things can be a challenge for older computer users. They can do them, they just need somebody who knows how to do it to show them how to perform different tasks. As the number of senior computer users continues to grow, this is opening a brand-new market that product managers are trying to determine how best to fill.

Tech Creates New Product Opportunities

Product managers realize that some tech savvy is required for the activities of daily living. This can include such things as connecting with friends via Zoom, shopping online, using smart TVs and setting up doctors’ appointments. As a result of this, product managers at more and more independent and assisted-living communities are adding personal tech support to their list of amenities. Providing full-time tech concierges on the premises at high-end communities such as the Watermark at Napa Valley in California, Inspīr Carnegie Hill in New York City, and Atria Newport Beach in California help residents with their everyday tech needs.

Product managers have realized that the need for personalized tech support in senior-living communities has been increasing as residents acquire ever-growing numbers of personal digital devices. In a survey it was found that 83% of adults 55 and over own a smartphone, 66% own laptops and 58% own tablets. People are moving into retirement communities with five to seven devices. Product managers realize that older adults often aren’t as facile with the devices as younger generations are. According to a survey more than half of Americans over age 65 and two-thirds of adults over age 75 have little confidence in their ability to set up and use their digital devices.

The need for new products became apparent when during the pandemic lockdowns, those devices became residents’ lifelines to the outside world. The staff in most senior communities could hardly keep up with requests for assistance with smartphones, tablets, Zoom, FaceTime and telehealth visits. Community volunteers who had helped out in the past were no longer allowed to enter the buildings due to visiting restrictions. As a result, all staff members, including maintenance workers and drivers who knew how to use a cellphone, became conscripted to help residents get online. That experience, on top of the rising use of smart devices in general by residents of high-end retirement homes, has led product managers to formalize and expand their tech-support programs.

Solving The Tech Support Gap

Many senior communities have on-site computer classes already. The idea of providing a tech concierge is new. In addition to leading classes for residents once a week, product managers have realized that tech concierges can schedule one-on-one visits. Most of the requests will be for help with password management, application downloads, setting up accounts with services including Zoom, Uber and Instacart, and logging into streaming services such as Netflix. Things can get more detailed when requests are made to set up receivers to connect hearing aids to televisions, help purchase iPads, and set up a digital newspaper subscription that enabled customers to get news in larger type.

Product managers understand that full-time tech concierge service without fees is a rarity. Most senior-living communities now offer some form of fee-based tech training and support. While industrywide pricing data isn’t available, typical fees charged are $12.50 to $25 for 15-minute sessions. In many communities, if there is no full-time person provided, frequently an IT employee or other staff member will step in to troubleshoot residents’ tech problems. Quick fixes of this sort are often provided for free. In some communities, local volunteers and other residents may offer tech support at no charge.

Product managers see an opportunity in senior communities that outsource tech support. Residents of the upscale Vi at La Jolla Village in San Diego get virtual assistance through Candoo Tech, whose concierges are trained to work with older adults. The senior housing site pays half of an undisclosed annual fee for residents, for which they get two 90-minute, one-on-one learning sessions, unlimited 30-minute help sessions, and one group class per month. Additional computer sessions or longer help sessions are available to residents for an additional discounted price.

What All Of This Means For You

Product managers are always looking for new opportunities to create products that their customers will want. Lately they have come to realize that as more and more people are becoming older and moving into senior care facilities, the need for assistance with all of their high-tech devices is growing. The complexity of these devices along with the sheer number of them that more and more people have has created a market that is not currently being served. Product managers believe that they can solve this problem.

In order to be attractive to older people who may consider moving there, more and more senior living facilities are starting to offer full-time tech concierges. More and more seniors have cell phone, tablets, and computers. However, fewer and fewer of them feel confident in setting them up and maintaining them. The pandemic revealed the need for support staff as electronic devices become the primary way that people were able to stay in touch with each other. Many senior living facilities offer computer classes to their residents. They can also offer one-on-one support. Full-time tech concierge service can be a big money maker. Some senior care facilities are outsourcing their tech support.

Providing tech support to senior residents of care facilities can be a big business. Product managers need to make sure that they have a good understanding of just exactly the type of support that this customer is going to need. They will also have to work out what kind of pricing plan will work with their customer’s ability to pay. If they can create the correct type of product, then they may have created a must have product that everyone will be willing to buy.

– Dr. Jim Anderson Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Product Management Skills™

Question For You: Do you think charging for classes would be a good idea for senior customers?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

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