The world is becoming more and more dependent on technology and, believe it or not, some people are terrified. While few suffer from the actual condition that psychologists label technophobia, many people do feel anxious when confronted with tech or AV decisions. Technology is supposed to simplify our lives but for some, it can all seem incredibly complicated, and they’d rather avoid it altogether.

As with any phobia, there are varying degrees. True technophobes will avoid anything resembling a computer, smartphone, tablet or any other kind of smart device. Others will use smartphones and a desktop PC but stay well away from anything they perceive as too complex like Bluetooth or virtual reality.


Technology is Nothing New


Technophobia has its roots way back in the Industrial Revolution. As more and more machines replaced traditional workers, there were those who tried to destroy it and stop the trend. The media has contributed in many ways to this fear. Hollywood blockbusters portraying the future such as The Matrix and Ex Machina spread the idea of a scary future where AI takes over the earth.


Many people feel stressed or anxious when called to operate new devices and navigate their way around computers and smart televisions. The more they resist learning, the more complex the instructions seem and the further behind they get. Many older people, in particular, have a fear of change. Technology, of course, changes all the time. The younger generation seems to be able to adapt seamlessly to new technologies, but the older generation struggles to cope.


Unable or Unwilling to Learn?


Technophobia may be simply due to personality factors like low self-esteem. For others, bad experiences with technology in the past may cause them to withdraw from technology altogether. Sufferers become reluctant to use tech and unwilling to learn. They grow critical of new technology, rationalising their fears by saying things like, “Well, I’ve been perfectly fine all these years without Bluetooth speakers so why should I get some now?”


You may have encountered some of these anti-tech customers in your AV retail store. AV specialists are so familiar with technology, they can find it difficult to identify with such customers. This can lead to them being insensitive when they enter into consultations with customers. This behaviour inadvertently adds to the anxiety. If you work in a retail outlet that sells AV gear, here are a few tips on how to best serve technophobic customers.


Explain, Explain, Explain


A good starting point is to thoroughly explain your product. Rather than trying to show off your knowledge, keep it simple and let the customer question you further. One common problem is that many customers don’t want to seem ignorant and might not say anything if they don’t understand a new system. Try to get them to open up about their concerns and queries.


Next, you can share common customer complaints and let it be known that you don't just serve experts. Explain how the new AV equipment is a practical improvement on what they are used to, and how it can provide a better quality of experience, whether it’s sound, viewing, or more.


Follow Up Services and Training


Another practical way to help technophobes is to provide follow up services and training. Don’t just leave them with a sixty-page manual that’s three-quarters gobbledegook. It’s important to work alongside your customer, offering support in different formats. After installing equipment in a client’s home, for example, you could go back a week later to resolve any issues they may be having.


Most technophobes will at least have a smartphone or home pc. Point out to them that if they’ve been able to work with those, they can work with most other devices. Tell them that the little device in their hand is millions of times more powerful than all the computing power NASA possessed in the late 60s!


You could also explain that just as they can play around with their smartphone and figure out how it works as they go precisely because AV tech is intuitive. A lot of this kind of customer will be afraid they do something wrong and are unaware that it’s fairly difficult nowadays to break a device or lose information simply by trying out all the options.


Online Help


Provide simple ways to solve problems, such as encouraging them to Google an issue they may be having. Explain that many manufacturers have online tutorials, manuals and more to help with questions about the product.


Tech can be overwhelming for a customer, but you can help them overcome those barriers by simplifying the AV tech as much as possible. You might also try providing tailor-made solutions for each customer.  Remember, you probably sell what they are looking for, but chances are they don’t quite know what it is yet.


Identify the Needs


A senior customer may not need a virtual reality headset, but they may enjoy a device that allows them to stream Netflix to their TV or save television programs to watch later. By narrowing down the options, you'll help ease the feeling of being overwhelmed by all the possibilities.


Work with your customers every step of the way when providing your services, whether it’s installing a home theatre or just mounting a TV. Your services should be easily accessible to all, and in the end, the new tech should be fun, attractive and straightforward.