Digitalisation without Age Limits

Technology kept people connected through the pandemic, but some – especially the elderly – found themselves left behind by the digital transformation. CLP Power is deploying its culture of innovation and care for the community to bring them up to speed with a new digital world.

Digitalisation without Age Limits

Digital services have transformed the way we live and work. But the journey to a new digital world is a collective one, and businesses must rise to the challenge of ensuring the less tech-savvy, particularly elderly people, are not left behind.


Companies worldwide have taken steps to make their products and services more accessible to the elderly and provided training in digital skills after the pandemic forced people to switch to online transactions and communication.


The initiatives come after a regional review by the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific called for concerted efforts and accelerated action to deal with rapidly ageing population and revitalise the role of older people in society.


With the number of people aged 60 or above expected to double in the next 30 years to 1.3 billion – a quarter of the Asia-Pacific region’s population – it is essential to narrow the technological divide and ensure a brighter digital future for everyone.


Digital-savvy seniors

China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) in 2021 published new guidelines calling on website and mobile app operators to make age-friendly modifications so that their networks became more inclusive.


More elderly people own mobile devices and are learning to use them in the new digital age.
More elderly people own mobile devices and are learning to use them in the new digital age.


Internet giant Tencent Holdings responded by making its products and services more accessible to the nation’s ageing population. It introduced larger fonts and other changes to its ubiquitous WeChat app, and offered free one-to-one help to elderly people in need of support.


In Hong Kong, meanwhile, the government has promoted a range of digital inclusion initiatives and provides funding through an outreach programme that teaches elderly people how to use tablets and mobile devices and shows them how digital technology can enhance their quality of life.


A government survey found more than a million Hong Kong people aged 65 and above have a smartphone, accounting for 73% of the city’s total elderly population – up from around 65% before the pandemic but still leaving more than one in four elderly people without a smartphone.



Never too old to learn

The digitalisation movement not only offers CLP Power significant potential for business growth, but also the opportunity to make its operations more efficient and to develop a broader range of customer-centric services for people of all ages.


Colleagues from its Customer Service & Experience team including Patrick Tang, Manager - Customer Service Centres, and Sylvia Ma, Customer Relations Manager, have since 2021 offered a series of classes to enhance the digital literacy of senior citizens.


Tang and Ma’s customer service centre teams handle queries about accounts and bills, as well as other services and initiatives. “We always try to drive digitalisation and promote the CLP mobile app so that customers can enjoy the convenience of technology, especially during the pandemic,” Tang explains.


"Senior citizens are one of our main focuses, as many of them do not have basic digital capabilities and are sometimes afraid of using digital services and reluctant to learn new skills.”


To help elderly people struggling to navigate the internet and use mobile devices, the team has conducted 20 classes divided into two ability levels at customer service centres since 2021, with content tailored to be relevant to their day-to-day lives.


“Customers registered for the classes according to their needs and level of digital knowledge,” Ma says. “In the beginners’ classes, we taught people the basic operations of smartphones, and how to download and bind the CLP app.


“In the advanced classes, we taught senior citizens some of the useful functions of the app, such as bill checking, personal profile updates, electricity usage notifications, and how to earn and redeem Eco Points.”


Elderly customers learn how to navigate the digital world with the help of CLP Power trainers.
Elderly customers learn how to navigate the digital world with the help of CLP Power trainers.


Quizzes were held at the at the end of each task to help elderly customers fully memorise the new information, and they were encouraged to share their knowledge with friends and family members. Certificates were presented to participants at the end of the classes.


“More than 170 participants have joined the programme since launch,” Tang reveals. “Initial feedback was overwhelmingly good. Around 92% of them logged back into the CLP app afterwards and 84% play daily Eco Fun games daily to earn Eco Points in the first year. This has encouraged us to carry on and engage with more senior citizens.”


Lifelong learning

Elderly participants said their introduction to the digital world had been particularly useful in adapting to the changes brought about by the pandemic. “The trainers were very helpful in guiding me during classes when I faced any issues,” says Mr Mok, who is retired.


Ms Cheung, who also took part in the training, says she now finds using her smartphone to go online and communicate much easier and more convenient. “Learning is a lifelong journey,” she reflects. “Now it’s time for me to teach my friends how to use the internet and smartphones,” she says.


Two classes a month continue to be held at CLP customer service centres this year, and CLP Power is working with NGOs to arrange further classes at their centres to reach out to more senior citizens in districts across Hong Kong.


The classes include sessions on how to open email accounts and send and receive emails, as well as how to register for and use online shopping, food delivery, and transport apps. They also teach participants to watch out for online fraudsters.


“Getting online can make life easier in many ways, but it also comes with the risk of scams and frauds, so we also teach senior citizens how to identify frauds and how to manage phishing emails,” explains Ma.


Classes are held in customer service centres and NGO premises.
Classes are held in customer service centres and NGO premises.


Mutual benefits

The classes have been a rewarding experience not just for the elderly participants but for the CLP Power employees training them. “For us, the strongest motivation comes from seniors’ happy faces and positive attitudes, as well as the mission of helping them keep up with society and promoting e-services,” Ma adds.


“Knowing that customers will share their new knowledge and invite their friends to join the classes, we will organise more classes and try to run a train-the-trainer model in the future,” says Tang.


“We are proud our students have changed from knowing nothing about smartphones to eagerly use new apps and functions. We have also learned that empathy is important and we need to consider their individual needs to provide them with personalised solutions,” he says.


The happy faces of senior citizens are motivation for CLP trainers.
The happy faces of senior citizens are motivation for CLP trainers.


The classes have been a powerful learning experience for customers and trainers alike and reflect CLP Power’s commitment to provide more customer-centric services and to contribute to digital inclusion in a fast-changing world of new technology.