Baby Boomers Can Be Hard to Win Over, But…

I track what people say about baby boomers on Twitter because, well, I’m a baby boomer and am writing a book about baby boomers and I’m basically just nosy. Lately, it seems like baby boomers are getting a bad rap!

I’ve seen tweets such as, “Baby boomers are dying from all sorts of diseases. Yeah!!!!!”  (sic) There are tweets about how we’re going to “flood” the healthcare system and bring Medicare and Medicaid to its knees.

C’mon! We’re not so bad. Haven’t you seen “The Big Chill”? Although we do represent a pretty large demographic, we are a diverse group and contribute a lot to the U.S. economy!

After reading several negative baby boomer tweets in a row, I came across a link to today’s editorial in the Le Mars, IA, Daily Sentinel. I chuckled and took heart when I read the following sentence: “[Baby boomers] may be savvy and egotistical, but [we] are also loyal and offer referrals to people who go out of their way to take care of [us].”

Even Laundry Detergent Earned My Loyalty

Bingo! And I am a living, breathing example of that sort of brand loyalty. For instance, when Surf laundry detergent first began to penetrate an already saturated market in the 198os, they sent me a free sample in the mail. It was the liquid version in a little plastic pouch. I let the sample sit around forever collecting dust until one day I was out of detergent, didn’t want to run out and get more, found the sample and thought I’d give this unknown brand a try.

It was the BEST detergent I’d ever used. Not only did my clothes come out cleaner than I’d ever seen them before, they smelled nice, too! From that one little direct-mail sample, I became a Surf fan forever–not because of clever TV ads (the World Wide Web didn’t even exist yet), but because of the quality of the product! I’d still be using Surf today if I could find it anywhere. None of the stores I shop at carry it anymore.

A Recent Experience Provides Anecdotal Proof

This week I had an experience with an international shipping company (ISC–not naming names in this case) that I believe is a PERFECT example of what the editorial is getting at: Baby boomers may be nitpicky and hard to please, but when you do your best to provide exemplary service, you will earn our loyalty–sometimes, even when you screw up!

The following is a message I sent to this company, commending them for their great service–in spite of a small, but costly, error. This company will now be the first one I think of for all my shipping needs.

Note: The text is exactly as I submitted it; I deleted the company name ’cause I’d hate to get in trouble for publicizing the company’s name in this sort of forum. Who knows, I might wind up working for the company someday.


Letter from a Satisfied Dissatisfied Customer

Hey [ISC]-

Because of an overnight delivery SNAFU, I got to experience the most exceptional level of customer service I have ever received from a company–ever. And, as a service-oriented professional,  I do not say this lightly.

Here’s what happened: My [relative who shall remain nameless] overnighted an envelope to me via ISC. I was supposed to receive it this morning. I am a guest at a dear friend’s home. She has 3 dogs. Every time I heard the dogs bark, starting at about 8 am, I was at the front door looking for your [delivery vehicle]. This was a very important delivery that my entire day’s schedule hinged upon.

By 11 am (and several trips to the front door later–the dogs bark a lot at NOTHING), no delivery. So I tracked the envelope online (it was a very simple process, thanks to your well-organized website) [Standard of Excellence (SE) 1] and it was noted as “delivered.”

Because it was important that I get this envelope as early as possible in order to get the things done today that I needed to get done, I immediately called your 800 number and after just 2-3 voice prompts (SE2)  I was speaking to a real, live person who sounded as if she could be my neighbor, rather than from an out-sourced call center…. (SE3)

Her name was [Marcia]. She listened attentively without interrupting (SE4), grasped the problem right away (SE5) and offered a quick solution (SE6). She told me the driver would be contacted and asked for a number where I could be reached.

I continued to pace and respond to the barking dogs for another 1.5 hours or so. When the driver showed up at about 1:30 pm, he was clearly perplexed, b/c he knew he had made the delivery but didn’t recall this particular address. He told me he was going to check the truck and backtrack, that maybe he had delivered to the wrong address.

Well, that’s exactly what happened. Turns out he left the envelope across the street at 8:30 am (which would have changed the entire trajectory of MY day if I had actually received the delivery at that time).

The driver was sincerely sorry. I could see it in his eyes. He really felt bad, b/c he could tell how upset I was (that tiny little mistake basically screwed up my whole day).

Still pretty pissed off (not at the driver, not really even at ISC, but at the situation) I called your 800 number again. This time I was able to get through to customer service after only one or two voice prompts (SE7). I spoke with a young lady named [Jan]…who, like Marcia, listened attentively and with great compassion (SE8) and without interrupting let me vent for a couple of minutes my tale of woe and said repeatedly how she understood and that if it had been her, she would have felt the same way.

I requested at least a partial credit for the delivery charge, ’cause, regardless of how nice and professional everybody was that I came in contact with, a mistake was made that pretty much screwed up my whole day (but it’s to YOUR benefit, ’cause I now have the time to write this lengthy email). 😉

Again, Jan was VERY understanding and kind. She put me on hold after explaining that she was going to contact another department to try to issue a credit. (Turns out the invoice has not been generated yet, so Jan gave me an 800 number and politely (SE9) asked me to call that number in 5-7 business days to see about getting a credit.

So, I don’t even know yet what the outcome of this situation will be. Nevertheless, I am so impressed by the level of care and service I have received, I felt compelled to take the time to let you know that you have earned my respect and loyalty today–by making a mistake! Imagine that!

I guess it’s when things go wrong that a consumer can learn the true mettle of a company. You guys definitely earned points today. Jan even promised me that the driver would NOT get in trouble for his error (’cause that’s not the point, either).

If you have been working on continuous quality improvement with your frontline people, it definitely shows. You guys did a great job screwing up today.

Phoebe King
(A satisfied unsatisfied customer) 😉


Now how many Gen Xers or Millennials do you know who would go to all that trouble, eh? (No offense to either demographic–some of my best friends are younger than 40.) From MY baby boomer perspective, the Daily Sentinel got it right: I may be a tough sell, but if you treat me right and provide exceptional service I may become a fan for life.


About Phoebe King Copywriting Pro

Phoebe is a Chicago-area B2B writer, specializing in white papers, case studies and email marketing. She has worked in publishing and communications for more than 15 years in the following industries: Health Care, Information Technology, Nonprofits, Real Estate, Trade Associations. When not on her laptop, Phoebe can be found gardening, walking her dog or hanging out with friends at her favorite Thai restaurant.
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2 Responses to Baby Boomers Can Be Hard to Win Over, But…

  1. Patti says:

    LOVE your letter! I understand totally how a “bad” experience with a company can lead to a positive feeling in the end. It’s all about the people that help you resolve your issue/anger! 😉

    Are baby boomers hard to please? I don’t think we deserve all the crappy things that are being said about us. I and many millions of baby boomers like me contribute, and have contributed, to the overall well-being of this world. We work hard, play hard, and dang it, we deserve some of the credit for the social and economic reform we see – who were the first “tree huggers” huh??? WE sparked a fire under a movement of equality for all, regardless of race, sex, or creed. The very luxuries of equal pay for equal work are enjoyed by younger folks; some of those same folks who blame us for “breaking” the social security system, etc.

    I don’t think I’m hard to please, but I do think that I EXPECT certain things at my age; respect and good service. Is that so bad? 😉

    Anyway, thanks for the enlightened blog post. I really enjoyed reading it. I haven’t stopped here for a while – got busy and forgot. I’ve got to take more time to read your stuff. I really enjoy it! Good luck on your book. I look forward to reading it!


    • Phoebe King says:

      Thanks for stopping by and for your kind words! You are absolutely right! We baby boomers have contributed mightily to the world and respect and good service are not much to ask for in return — for anyone! I’m pretty sure I’ve added you to my blogroll, Patti. I will double-check to make sure. I’m always thrilled to make new online connections with other baby boomers. Did you know that by the end of 2010 our age group (46-64) will comprise 40 percent of the U.S. population? and that we control something like 70 percent of the net worth in this country? That’s what Nancy Padberg at Navigate Boomer Media says, anyways. Thanks again for your kind words. I look forward to chatting again soon! 🙂


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