Are your employees too young to give good customer service?

by HCA25 Feb 2014
Seventy per-cent of Australians aged between 50-59 stated they experienced age discrimination in the workplace, with 11% experiencing it when applying for work. This jumped to 12% in the 60-69 age bracket, a study from the Council of the Ageing (COTA) NSW found.

In addition, discrimination was perceived by older Australians when purchasing goods or services, as reported by 60% of respondents.

While workplace and recruitment discrimination may not appear linked directly to the front-line, COTA CEO Ian Day explained to HC that recruitment and HR attitudes and decisions will spill into the customer-facing aspect of organisations.

Day explained that – although HR may be hiring competent customer-facing personnel – if the staff are unable to understand the expectations and needs of the customer, they may not be able to help. He used the example of the call centre industry’s tendency to focus on hiring young backpackers. While this may be effective in many circumstances, a culture is likely to form that is too myopic to be able to handle older callers with sensitivity and empathy.

“What we are talking about is understand your audience, understand your customer base … a 22-year-old selling corsetry to a 75-year-old in a department store just isn’t going to work,” Day said. “They don’t want to go in there and the staff don’t want to talk to them. So there is an element of training, but there is also an element of employment.”

Day cited Bunning’s as an example many can learn from, due to their tendency to have a frontline workforce that bridges diversity barriers from gender, age and beyond.

Do you agree with Day’s comments? How have you gone about battling the issue in your workplace, or have you never experienced it?


  • by John Mason 25/02/2014 3:11:06 PM

    Customer Service today is not being taught to the young ones at all. I am 62 next month at present unemployed I am doing work experience. So far I have noticed that I am the oldest one in the building on a Tuesday. Everyone else is quite younger than me. The young lady who is on reception is really good on customer service. She asked me if I liked working their I said yes. I do I know very well that it is going to take me a long time to get to the jobs that you are doing that does not bother me it's the working conditions that have to be improved

  • by Vera P 27/03/2014 12:38:02 PM

    I do believe that some customers become invisible to some staff. Many older customers are quite simply ignored by younger staff, most especially in retail, and specifically in fashion retail.

    Though to be fair, I have also witnessed older customer service staff totally ignore young people (men in particular).

    In both cases,the thinking is quite insulting, that the customer is not worth their time, or may be unable to afford the goods.

Most Read