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Has your attitude to customer care moved with the times?

Hospitality Training are delighted to bring you a new course in customer care . We are working in partnership with Mowatt Research Ltd, who have developed an exciting customer care training concept. The course will be held at Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre on Wednesday the 28th September.

Mowat Research is an independent business consultancy which supports companies and organisations in responding to the practical implications of an ageing society.

None of you will be surprised to hear that our population is ageing. This is something that has been well reported in the press. This means that there are now more people aged between 50 and 65 in Scotland than those aged 15 to 24. This has implications for employers, employees and customers.

Whilst the demographics of ageing are no longer a surprise, the real impact and meaning of them take longer to absorb. This is partly because as individuals we tend to assume that the ageing population applies to others rather than ourselves. Our attitudes to ageing tend to be rather negative and disinterested. In order to maximise the advantages of an ageing population this approach has to change.

A directive on Age in Employment implemented in the European Member States in October 2006 gives employees the right to request to continue to work after the normal retirement age. This partly addresses the "shrinking workforce" fears that accompany discussions about Ageing. If older people continue to leave the workforce and there are no younger people to come up to take their place there will be a skills gap. Retaining older workers becomes part of a strategy for succession planning and knowledge transfer both of which are required for successful growth. Retaining older workers requires flexible packages of work where the older worker can adjust working life to accommodate their age related wishes.

In a service based industry such as hospitality the implications of both an ageing customer population and an ageing workforce are only just beginning to be thought about.

The older customer will have particular needs and wants and will also have the money to pay for them. Extended working years with more flexibility implies that the older employees will also be the older guests as they manage less working hours and continued income. Attitudes to older people can be subtly negative. Understanding the principles of successful ageing and incorporating them into customer care practice gives the opportunity to maximise this sector of the market. Good customer relations can make a difference to how older quests engage with your facility.

Customer care studies show that people are twice as likely to tell you about a bad experience than they are a good one. It is easier to get your current customers to buy 10% more than to increase your customer base by 10%. A typical dissatisfied customer will tell 8 to 10 people about his or her problem. It costs on average six times more to attract a new customer than it does to keep an old one. Ageism and ageist behaviour is subtle and difficult to identify but is noticed by those on the receiving end.

The over 50's spend £145 billion in the UK alone. The over 50's market contains approximately 4.1 million individuals which equates to huge potential spending power. This market is potentially time rich and cash rich which means they have more leisure time and more spending power.

Attitudes to and behaviour with this group requires attention so that their good will is retained, their needs are met and their return business is secured. In your training brochure for July to September you will find a short course which explores these ideas further and suggests action plans to maximise this market. For more information, visit www.mowatresearch.co.uk.