A Generational Communication Observation: The Family Visit

This past weekend, as is customary in my family, Sunday is always a day to relax and visit family. My wife and I put the dogs (dressed in their designer clothes) in their car seats (yes, we are “those people”) and hit the road to our first stop – my grandparent’s house. Upon arrival, we always check the mailbox and bring in their mail.

My grandparents are always eager to get the mail and review every piece of it in detail. Whether it is a bill or an offer for free Air Miles, everything is read and reread in meticulous detail. As we sat there with my grandparents, I received a call from our next stop – my parents. They assumed we were stopping by and asked if we could grab their mail on the way in. My parents live in a housing development that has a community mailbox instead of home delivery.  Once we arrive, I grab their mail and my dad takes the pile (mostly consisting of junk mail) and quickly scans through it, throwing out the “junk” and keeping the rest to read.

Once we get home, I stop at our mailroom to grab our mail.  I quickly toss the “junk“ mail in to the recycle without giving it a second thought.  Given that my wife and I spend most of our time on either laptops, tablets and smartphones, most of our important mail such as bank statements and utility bills are sent to us by email or are paid via automatic payment.

Later that evening as I was prepping for upcoming customer meetings on communication strategy improvement, it dawned on me that my day was the perfect example of how people react to or prefer different methods of communication, many times depending on which generation they are from.

In an effort to prove this theory, I decided to call my parents and grandparents to find out how they pay their premiums and stay informed about new offers or products. As I had suspected, my grandparents prefer the traditional paper form of communication over email while my parents said it depended on the type of communication.

This further confirmed my belief that in today’s world, organizations need to offer a variety of communication channels for their customers.  Not only is variety important, but so is the fit between communication channels and customer preferences.  Organizations that find this “fit” will continue to come out ahead and will certainly attract and retain new customers regardless of their generation.