Ming Yang, founder of Orchard, realized that as the pandemic necessitated people to adopt a more robust digital lifestyle, seniors would need support. Orchard helps older adults to adapt to new technology by providing phone and internet support to walk loved ones step-by-step through technology, from creating a Zoom account to helping with social media accounts.
I asked Yang about Orchard and who is using her innovative and timely services.
“Orchard provides one-on-one personalized technology coaching and support service to older adults online where we can see their screen and guide them through anything they want to learn or anything trouble they have,” explained Yang. “It’s as easy as clicking a button and meeting their tech coach.”
With a computer engineering background as well as work experience at Apple and Microsoft, Ming now provides enjoyable tech experiences for people who didn’t grow up with technology.
“Orchard was started because I was struggling to help my mother with technology, especially from afar,” shared Yang. “It was emotionally taxing on our relationship and I know she felt like a bother to me. So I created Orchard to put together an army of patient and tech-savvy individuals dedicated to help older adults, with the mission to empower them to do more with technology.”
Orchard provides services across a wide geography, and schedules tech coaching across many time zones.
Who are her customers?
“We mostly help people that didn’t grow up with technology, and many of them are older adults,” began Ming. “Most of them are adopting technology very fast but don’t have the strong foundation needed to protect themselves properly as well as getting the most out of their devices.
Added Ming, “The unknown is hard and stressful, and we understand that. For someone who did not grow up with technology, it is like a black box. So the most effective way to teach in this case is to use empathy, to understand their context, their experience, and their assumptions.”
“Empathy is the number one personality trait we screen for in our Tech Coaches. Even when they are hired, they still undergo in-house training that helps them effectively communicate their empathetic intentions to make our older adults feel the most comfortable.
Orchard bundles its services in a variety of plans so whether a person needs access to just a couple of in-depth sessions each month, or access to quick support, too, there are options.
As well as one-to-one services, group lessons will soon be on offer.
Ming remarked, “We are doing a pilot for group classes right now for our members and are excited to expand them in the next 3 months. We first want to tackle some of the most common topics: file organization, privacy protection, and video chatting. Then later, we will be hosting a variety of classes to expand the knowledge horizons of our older adults, introducing them to things they never thought they could do with technology!”
Ming also shared her ‘Top 5 Tips’ for teaching parents and grandparents how to use Zoom:
- Don’t start with a phone call, just start with a phone video call. Teach them to flip the camera!
- Point them to the right button faster by using position-specific language:
- “At the bottom, starting from the most left side, find the second icon, do you see a camera?” Same for the microphone. Navigate their eyes with your instructions.
- Don’t: “Do you see it? It’s right there. It’s to the right.”
- Do: “You see that big black button? Okay. Look a bit to the left, and a little bit more.”
- Specify which mouse click to use. Left-click, right-click, single-click.
- “Don’t click on anything until I specify for you to do so.” Prevent them from accidentally closing something before you give the instructions.
- Pretend you’re helping your boss’s mom. You will be guaranteed to be Zen and patient.
Visit Orchard to learn more about the programs.