How banks should manage their communication with the elderly

The communication of companies towards the elderly must be fluid, multidirectional and transparent to obtain the trust of this group

Begoña Gomez Nieto

BEGOÑA GOMEZ NIETO Expert professor in Organizational Communication and Academic Coordinator of the Master in Corporate Communication, UNIR - International University of La Rioja

At the beginning of 2022, the campaign I am older, not an idiot, promoted by the Valencian retired doctor Carlos San Juan, had a huge impact on Spanish society and agitated and outraged many citizens, who did not understand business behavior towards older people.

San Juan claimed the situation of technological defenselessness in which many older people found themselves in dealings with their banking entities. The closure of branches and the imposition of schedules and previous appointments have made the use of ATMs and apps practically mandatory to carry out the most common banking operations. And not everyone is ready for this change. What happened with the banking sector and the elderly brought to the table some issues worthy of reflection:

The marginalization of social groups that cannot adapt to the unstoppable process of digitization. The line of business of companies should not be placed above service and customer care, regardless of their age or condition.

Ethics, respect and a culture of service must be unbreakable concepts in companies, regardless of their size and scope of action.

For some older people, being able to attend a financial institution in person to consult questions and doubts related to their money represents a possibility of socialization. Many older people who live alone can thus establish minimal social relationships and relate to their environment.

Digital disconnection generates greater family dependency. Given the inability to carry out the procedures that they previously carried out in person at banks, they must ask their relatives for help. This makes them more dependent, causing a huge sense of frustration.

It remains to be trusted that the document agreed between the Government and the bank for the promotion of the financial inclusion of the elderly, by which the entities undertake to provide a better service to the elderly, more vulnerable and less digitized, is respected in its entirety and serve as a reflection to understand that the business policies of companies do not justify the violation of rights and respect for people.

Old age, communication and market

Society is aging and older people constitute a wide market of users within the population as a whole. In particular, the Spanish population pyramid is undergoing a profound aging process. Measured by the increase in the proportion of older people (65 years or older) over the total population, according to INE data, as of January 1, 2021 there were 9,310,828 older people, 19.65% of the total population. population (47,385,107).

Estimates from the Spanish public statistical research institute indicate that around the year 2050, 31.4% of the total population will be over 65 years of age. The same trend is occurring in the rest of Europe and the world: there is a transition towards an increasingly older population structure.

This large and growing group of citizens consumes and establishes relationships with their environment, just like the rest.

Corporate communication, philosophy and strategy

On the way to establish relationships with their different audiences, organizations must use communication channels, messages and appropriate formulas so that these relationships are fluid and harmonious. If this is not the case, communication will fail and the communicative flow will be reduced, harming the achievement of the objective that the organization has at that time.

Each population group has specific needs and demands specific services and attentions in which generalities do not fit: coffee for all has no place here.

The main objective of communication management is to satisfy the needs of customers. Therefore, it must be conceived as a strategic element where the vision, mission and objectives of the organization are connected and interrelated, taking advantage of the opportunities that exist in the market and optimizing its own resources.

Communication in a company should not be conceived as a mere technique: it must be a philosophy, the expression of a vision that has to be implemented centrally.

The communication process, beyond its informative dimension, should also be a way for managers of organizations to improve the effectiveness of their decisions. This implies involvement and responsibility in the process that every good leader must assume.

In recent years, transparency has become a core value of a society in which insecurity, uncertainty and distrust of citizens are increasing (just look at the consequences of covid-19 and the Russian invasion of Ukraine).

Ethics, morality and trust define the true value of the transparency that today's society needs. Therefore, at times like these, good communication management is essential for any type of organization. Especially in a sector such as banking, not without controversy and on many occasions with a disastrous image among the different audiences.

Communicating well builds trust

If there is a commitment to fluid, multidirectional communication from organizations to older people (that is, not unidirectional from companies to older people), transparent, that listens actively and attends to their needs, this public will respond in a way of trust. , recommendation and purchase of services and products, generating a greater number of revenues for companies.

Let's not forget that many older people have purchasing power and are willing to invest and spend where they feel they are part of the company's real commitment to its environment.

A society that does not care for and does not promote the integration of all is not a developed or mature society, it is a society that marginalizes and discriminates. Neither the digital transformation nor economic issues should tarnish transparent communication, with personalized attention of respect and service towards the individual.

This article has been published in '
The Conversation'.