Think Your Clients Aren’t Tech Savvy? Think Again…


“My clients aren’t tech savvy.”

Many advisors throw around the claim “My clients aren’t tech savvy” as if they know what they’re talking about. If you find yourself saying this, know that you’re making an assumption. It’s not based on facts. Regardless of how confident you feel or how much you think you know your clients, this statement is not widely true.

Before we continue, I’d ask that you answer two simple questions:

1) What percent of your client base did NOT graduate from college?

2) What percent of your client base has a HH income of LESS than $50,000 per year?

Scribble down these two percentages on a scrap piece of paper. They’ll mean more to you in about 60 seconds.

Research says they’re online.

A few months ago, Pew Research* conducted a survey to measure internet usage by various demographic segments. They surveyed 2,200+ adults, 27% of which were 65+ years of age. Internet use was studied between differences in gender, age, race, education, and annual HH income. The research found that the statistically significant measures were (a) education level and (b) annual HH income. So, based on research, do your clients use the internet?

Was your answer to #1 above a small percentage?  The study found that 98% of adults who graduated college use the internet.

Was your answer to #2 also a small percentage?  The study also found that 90% of adults with a HH income of $50,000 – $74,999 use the internet, and that percentage jumps to 98% for adults with $75,000+ in annual HH income.

“Data doesn’t lie, yo.”

If you’re about to dismiss these statistics as ‘not applicable to your client base’ for whatever reason you think is legitimate, read on.

“Data doesn’t lie, yo.” This is one of my favorite pieces of advice from a business mentor. Okay it’s not advice, per se, nor is it the most eloquent sentence ever formed, but it sticks. It came about when results of an online campaign yielded very unexpected results. Our customers behaved in the exact opposite way I assumed they would.

I was struggling to believe the numbers in front of me, when my mentor simply said, “Data doesn’t lie, yo.” It was a ‘Haha’ statement followed by an ‘ah ha’ moment. I began to realize that my assumption (despite how confident I felt) was simply that – an assumption. I understood that I’d be foolish to base any business decision on a hunch. I need data. So, I swallowed my pride, embraced the numbers, and then leveraged the information to improve the business. “Data doesn’t lie, yo.”

So, the Pew Research data isn’t lying to you. However, if you still need convincing, here are 3 ways to collect your own data.

3 Ways to Test Your Assumption:

1) Visit each client’s home for 24 hours.

I’m only partially kidding. There’s actually a legitimate data collection method called observational research. It involves watching your subject (in this case, clients) in their natural environment for a significant period of time. You would need at least a full day to fairly evaluate their internet use. While it would certainly be an informative experience, this method isn’t realistic, so let’s move on.

2) Survey your clients.

Write a survey to collect relevant information about how your clients. The key here is to ask for facts, not opinions. For example, instead of prompting them to rate how tech savvy they are, ask them to list types of devices they have at work and at home, total number of emails they receive each day, or what their three favorite websites are. Offer a “not applicable” option in case, but you may be surprised by their answers.

3) Conduct an experiment.

Run a test without directly asking clients anything. Sign up for a technology that intrigues you. Many online tools offer a free trial period, so take advantage of it! Actually use the tool with a portion of your clients and wait to see how they react. Do they rave about this new addition to your service? Does your relationship with the client remain the same, but your business efficiency drastically improves? Try something for free and see what happens. You may have an ‘ah ha’ moment of your own.

If you want to learn which technologies other advisors are using, read our 2013 Tech Survey Report. It’s free!

*Source: Pew Research, Dec. 2012, “Who’s Online?”


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