Author: Lauren Allegrezza posted in Aging on 02 April 2015, 20:48
How many of you are familiar with the phone call from a parent or grandparent that goes like this...
“How do I find my email on the computer?”
or possibly, “How do I turn on the computer?”
or even, “I don’t know what I did, but it’s all gone.”
In this video, I review the reasons we've found why providing easily accesibly, on-going technical support is so important to helping seniors and tech novices get comfortable with how they can utlize the computer and having fun doing so.
Learning to use a computer is a new experience for many seniors, and the idea of exploring and interacting in the digital world can be quite thrilling. A computer can help seniors stay in touch with their family via emailing and video chatting, keep their minds active by playing games and learning new skills, and even build new relationships by enabling communication with people who share their interests.
However, for those who have never used one before, a computer can be intimidating and overwhelming. Traditional user interfaces are not easily navigable, icons and images are small and difficult to see, and effective assistance is often not available. Stories of viruses, spyware, and crashes, may scare off some computer novices, while others may fear that they will somehow “break” the computer by clicking or touching the wrong button or icon. As a result, easily accessible, ongoing technical support is critical in facilitating the newcomer’s adoption of computer technology.
Many seniors want to learn how to use computers, but they may lack confidence in their own ability to do so. An effective technical support agent can help overcome these worries, which is why we offer friendly, comprehensive, on-going support for our users. Simply saying something like, “A lot of our customers are computer beginners, and we’ve helped them learn how to use the computer” allays fears and concerns and provides reassurance. Many first time users may also feel like they have stupid questions, so it is very comforting for them to hear someone say, "That's not a silly question! We've heard that many times before."
Furthermore, a great technical support agent knows how to move in incremental steps when teaching new skills. Many of our customers have never even touched a computer before. With these individuals, our technical support team members will get them started with how to move the mouse, click a button, and type with the keyboard. Then, email is usually the first application that they teach because once users start seeing letters from their family members, they are very encouraged by what the computer can do for them. After the user gets more familiar and comfortable with email, our team members might move on to video chat or web browsing. Introducing and teaching one application at a time, and allowing the learner to gain confidence before moving on, prevents them from feeling overwhelmed.
Another barrier for some seniors learning to use a computer is unfamiliarity with computer jargon. Without ever having been exposed to words such as “URL address bar” or “text box,” novice computer users would be unlikely to understand directions using those terms. An effective tech support agent knows it is necessary to explain concepts and instructions in a relatable way. Additionally, this is why remote access capability is an excellent asset for tech support teams. For one, by being able to remotely see the user’s screen, the agent can know exactly what the user's question is about. And then, because they can control the mouse, technical support agents can instruct verbally while demonstrating visually to the user. This process of visual and verbal teaching allows for better understanding.
For seniors, the peace of mind that comes with knowing they can call up a friendly and patient person to answer a question is also a major motivator for them to want to start using a computer. Again, technical support helps to ease fears and doubts about the users’ ability to master key computer skills.
Our mission is to keep family and friends connected by restoring simplicity and fun to the personal computer. We want our users to get the most out of their computer, and providing great support is the best way to accomplish that.
What has been your experience with helping older adults learn technology or even your own learning process? Leave me a comment below to share your story or ask a question!
Image courtesy of Ambro / FreeDigitalPhotos.net