Do the elderly use self-service devices?
The digital age has ushered in a new era of convenience, with self-service solutions becoming increasingly prevalent in various aspects of our lives. From self-checkout kiosks at grocery stores to online banking, these solutions aim to streamline processes and enhance user experiences. But there’s a common stereotype that older individuals are hesitant or unable to adopt these technologies. As more and more Gen-Z individuals start to become a big part of the consumer market less and less focus is turned to older generation preferences of interaction. Is this perception accurate?
Understanding the Perception
It’s not uncommon to hear people say that older individuals are resistant to technology, particularly self-service solutions. While this perception is rooted in some truths, it’s important to recognize that it’s not a one-size-fits-all scenario. While there may be barriers such as unfamiliarity and discomfort with new technology, many older adults are embracing self-service solutions once they understand the benefits.
According to a survey conducted by AARP, a leading organization advocating for older adults, about 60% of individuals aged 65 and older in the United States regularly use the internet. That has increased as COVID-19 pandemic arose. While this statistic may not be surprising, what’s interesting is that a significant portion of this demographic engages in online activities such as email, online shopping, and even social media. This indicates a growing openness to digital platforms. Another study by Pew Research Center’s revealed that older adults are increasingly adopting smartphones. In fact, smartphone ownership among those aged 65 and older saw a considerable increase over the past decade.
So what about self-service devices?
One of the best examples of successfully implementing self-service solutions in an industry is ATM’s. Everybody uses them regardless of their age. Although mostly used by younger generations self-check-outs in stores is also something that changes how the stores are functioning.
The key to attracting everyone to use self-service devices is to make it easier to use them. Several financial institutions have developed user-friendly mobile apps with seniors in mind. These apps boast simplified interfaces, larger fonts, and intuitive features tailored to the older generation’s preferences. Such initiatives have shown promising results in bridging the technology gap among older individuals and promoting self-service banking. Same goes for physical devices installed in stores or other establishments.
Some of the functions that would help to use these devices better for the seniors:
- Clear and Large Fonts: Use legible fonts and ensure that text is displayed in a sufficiently large size to accommodate seniors with visual impairments.
- High Contrast and Clear Icons: Utilize high contrast color schemes and clear icons to improve visibility and make navigation more intuitive for users with varying levels of vision.
- Simple Interface: Keep the interface straightforward and avoid clutter. Reduce the number of options displayed at once to prevent overwhelming users.
- Voice Commands: Incorporate voice recognition technology to allow users to navigate and interact with the device using spoken commands, making it easier for those with mobility issues.
- Touchscreen Sensitivity: Adjust the touchscreen sensitivity to prevent accidental selections, catering to users who may have difficulty with fine motor control.
- Tactile Feedback: Implement tactile feedback mechanisms, such as haptic vibrations or audible cues, to provide confirmation for actions taken on the device.
- Assistance Options: Include accessible help menus, tooltips, or video tutorials that guide users through the process step-by-step if they encounter difficulties.
- Physical Accessibility: Ensure that devices are at an appropriate height and angle for easy access by individuals who may use mobility aids like wheelchairs or walkers.
- Assistive Technology Compatibility: Ensure compatibility with common assistive devices, such as screen readers, magnification software, and switch controls.
- Clear Instructions: Provide clear and concise instructions at each step of the process, making it easy for users to understand how to use the device.
- Customizable Settings: Allow users to adjust settings, such as font size, color themes, and interaction preferences, to suit their individual needs.
- Gesture and Motion Recognition: Incorporate intuitive gestures and motion recognition for navigation, catering to users who may be more comfortable with natural movements.
- Timeout Adjustments: Extend the timeout period for interactions, giving elderly users ample time to complete tasks without feeling rushed.
- Emergency Assistance: Include prominent emergency buttons that connect users to support personnel or services if they require immediate assistance.
- Feedback and Confirmation: Provide clear visual and auditory feedback to confirm actions, helping seniors feel confident about the selections they make.
- User Testing: Conduct usability testing with elderly individuals to gather feedback and make iterative improvements to the device’s design.
With these functions it can make it easier for seniors to help use the self-service device. That way they become more inclusive not only to the seniors, but also other groups of people that may find it difficult to use these devices at first glance. Particularly in healthcare facilities like hospitals or pharmacies, where the need for efficient services is critical.
Although most of the seniors still tend to like more face-to-face communication over self-service, studies show that COVID-19 pandemic was a real turning point for older generations to choose self-service options as well. Shopping online or visiting a doctor via video call to reduce risk of catching the virus staying too long inside or waiting in the line was something they appreciated during that time. And now that pandemic is over they associate these solutions with the benefits they remember from that time.
Other Benefits of Self-Service Solutions for the seniors:
Independence: Self-service solutions empower older generations to manage tasks independently, fostering a sense of self-reliance and confidence.
Convenience: Accessing services and information online saves time and effort, eliminating the need for physical travel and long queues which might be exhausting.
Safety: Especially relevant during the COVID-19 pandemic, self-service options provide a safer way for seniors to fulfill their needs without exposing themselves to crowded spaces.
Customization: Many self-service platforms allow users to personalize their experiences, catering to individual preferences and accessibility needs.
The narrative that the elderly shy away from self-service solutions is gradually fading as technology becomes more integrated into our daily lives. While there are challenges to overcome, reports and studies indicate a growing acceptance and adoption of technology among the elderly. By recognizing their unique needs and preferences, businesses and institutions can develop more inclusive and user-friendly self-service solutions that cater to this demographic.
As we continue to witness the evolution of technology, it’s heartening to see people of all ages embracing the advantages of self-service solutions. It’s a reminder that innovation has the power to bridge gaps and enhance lives across generations.
To discuss self-service solution possibilities for your business, please get in touch with us today, and one of our team members will be more than happy to advise you!