If you are in the aging business you have to at least be aware of the Jitterbug phones.

If you are in the aging business, you have to, at least, be aware of the Jitterbug phones. Several weeks ago, I got a chance to interview David Inns the CEO of Great Call, the company that sells the Jitterbug phone and phone service.  

The genesis of this interview was that I was on the press attendee list for the Consumer Electronics Show this past January in Las Vegas. The Great Call press team reached out to me about doing an interview with David.  

I confess, I wasn’t quite sure this was a great fit for me or for them, in that by the time elders land in an assisted living or skilled nursing community they are not typically looking to purchase their first cell phone. On the other hand, I am fascinated by technology companies that are successfully reaching the elder marketplace.  

CES didn’t happen for me, but a few weeks later we were able to connect by phone.

Great Call

Great Call is based in San Diego and launched their first cell phone in 2006. Their target market is elders who have never before used a cell phone or who have tried traditional cell phones and found them frustrating and unusable. The phones are sold in many retail outlets as well as a direct to consumers over the internet. 

In addition to a basic phone, they have expanded their offerings to include an elder friendly smart phone. The reason seniors like the phone is that it is easy to use, and the volume can be turned up high enough for seniors to hear.

They offer emergency response services with the push of a button that will connect them with a trained agent who will help them get the service they need at the right location. 

Their technology/customer roadmap includes further adoption of digital health applications and services.

Customer Service

David feels strongly that the key to growing Great Call is a great customer service team. In the view of the Great Call team, the technology is not really all that important. It is all about customer service. All agents are based in the United States. They all go through extensive training before being turned loose on customers. A Great Call user has to hit just a single button to get connected to support.

Great Call and Senior Living

After talking to David I found three intersections with senior living:

  1. Great Call has done a great job of listening to their customers in evolving their product. When you look at some of the data produced by Margret Wylde at Pro Matura, it suggests senior living still has a ways to go in this area.
  2. Great Call must live or die on customer service; the cost and effort required to switch services or just quit using the services all together is nominal. Each encounter with a customer is an opportunity to lose that customer. I find myself thinking that if we approached each resident and resident family interaction as a make-or-break event, it could be transformative for residents, families and communities.
  3. I don’t know if this would quite work, but I am thinking some senior living company needs to explore a marketing relationship with Great Call. It is entirely possible they are better connected to pre-senior living consumers than any other company in the whole country.  Would Great Call be interested . . . I don’t know. I probed on the question a little, but it was not something that had been particularly on their radar.

Do you have residents that are using the Jitterbug Technology?

Steve Moran