How to Improve Close Ratios for Internet Referrals

August 11, 2014 | By Shannon Ingram

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Caring Stars of 2015: Meet the “Caring Super Stars”

CaringStars2015_SuperStarBadge (1)Each year, Caring.com compiles a list of the top-rated assisted living and memory care communities in our Senior Care Directory — the communities earning the highest praise in reviews from families, residents, and senior care experts. In January 2015, we were so pleased to begin honoring 805 assisted living and memory care communities in 43 states across the country as “Caring Stars of 2015”.

The annual Caring Stars list originally launched in January 2012 as the premier senior living reviews award program, helping family caregivers and older adults narrow their senior living options to the best of the best, and quickly find the right assisted living or Alzheimer’s care community for aging parents and other loved ones. To further highlight the most-acclaimed assisted living communities, this year Caring.com added a new category of winners, the Caring Super Stars, celebrating 33 communities that have won the award at least three of the years the program has been in place.

Congratulations to these Caring Super Stars of 2015:

Have questions? Please contact community@caring.com.

The Secret to Stronger, Faster Online Referrals

faster-stronger“My dad was up to going with us for the tour and was open minded about the idea of assisted living. The facility and staff seemed very nice and answered our questions. [Community A] was nice because it was close to his doctor’s, family and friends. He like the setting and felt comfortable because he was familiar with the area.”

Here at Caring.com, we get notes like these from consumers on a regular basis. First impressions, feelings of doubt, and decisions pour into our call center every day as adult children and seniors search for the right senior community in the right area.

As you already know, it’s tough to get consumers on the phone. At Caring.com, we’ve optimized our call center to call consumers within just one minute of their submitted request for information online so that we can increase the chance of reaching them. So once we get them on the phone, we vet that they’re a viable prospect, make the connection with your community, and try really hard to get them to your front door by scheduling a tour then and there.

The good news: New 2014 data from Caring.com suggests all this hard work is worth it.

Tours drive more move-ins at a faster pace

3.5x more likely = Online referrals with tours are 3.5x more likely to move-in to a community than online referrals without tours. That’s not one, not two, but three and a half times better chance for a prospect to move in once they’ve seen and met the staff and community in person.

25% faster = Online referrals who had a tour scheduled moved in 25% faster than those without a tour scheduled — about 2 weeks faster than referrals without tours.

Who’s a viable prospect (aka “referral”)?

In January 2015, Caring.com got over 55,000 online inquiries from consumers looking for senior housing. We screened out approximately 80% of these inquiries (e.g. customers who are not viable based on budget, age, care needs or individuals not seeking senior care services) before sending them to our partners, so that you can focus on customers who are a viable match for your community.

What can you do to get more tours?

What’s unique about your community? What amenities do you have? Are you paying attention to your star ratings? Here are 5 ways to help make your directory listing attract great prospects.

Bottom line: The more updated information you include on your Caring.com listing, the better we can describe your community to prospects. If you haven’t already, tell us your community details here. We’ll enhance your Caring.com listing with any new information.

Customers vary: Get in touch quickly, and meet in person.

Whether a prospect is ready to move-in right away, or just browsing their options, it’s very important to let your community shine for each family with an in-person tour. Here are a few real examples of customers who have corresponded with us before making a decision about senior housing.

I’m still looking at my options, where else should I look?
“Remember, this search is all proactive as I am not ready to make the move yet. And of course there is also the possibility that I will stay where I am, since I haven’t seen anything better yet, just different. I am just doing due diligence. I am looking for up scale, great food & environment. Any other possibilities?”

We got a terrible first impression.
“You know what, it was a lovely place. However, the sales rep. was obnoxious … I found [Caring.com] very helpful and it is too bad that we got such a self-serving and poor sales person. I do not intend to ever speak to this woman again. Someone needs to tell this lady that you always listen to and HEAR your customer. Your aim should be to always work toward meeting the needs of your customer first and foremost. That is how you make a sale.”

I’m ready to move-in. I’m tired of all the responsibility of running a home.
“My son and I went today to tour and had lunch. I was so impressed with it compared to [Community B] … I saw the big one-bedroom, the normal size one bedroom, and the one-bedroom. I think that is all I need because I have a small two story and I live in the bottom and absolutely do not go upstairs at all … I think I would really like living there because I am tired of all the responsibility of running a home. That would be ideal.”

Learn more about the online referrals process and how to improve close ratios for Internet referrals. Or get in touch with a Membership Advisor to see how your community can partner with Caring.com’s referral services: (866) 824-9209

Reviews Best Practices: Responding to Negative Feedback

Contrary to some common misperceptions, the majority of online consumer reviews are not complaints, and instead are 4-star or 5-star positive reviews. In fact, on Caring.com, 77% of consumer reviews in our Senior Care Directory are positively rated, and according to Think with Google, the number one reason that consumers write online reviews is altruism — to help others, not to slander a business.

So when you get the occasional negative review, then what to do? Even if you do everything right, the families and older adults you serve aren’t always happy, and sometimes there are other factors you can’t control that lead to grumpiness in online reviews.

How you respond to their critical feedback online may or may not change their perspective, but it can help persuade prospective residents who subsequently read the negative review(s) on your business listing. In fact, according to one survey by MarketingCharts.com and social marketing firm, Bazaarvoice: 7 in 10 survey respondents indicated that a brand’s response to an online consumer review changes their perception of the brand, most commonly by making them feel that the brand really cares about customers (41%), that it has great customer service (35%), and that it is trustworthy (22%).

Ignoring online reviews is not in your best interest.

head-in-sand

Don’t be this guy.

In a Spring 2014 survey Caring.com conducted, we found that 67% of family caregivers and older adults are using online directories to find potential senior living communities and home care agencies, and relying on reviews to help narrow their choices. These firsthand testimonials provide insights into what current or former clients liked and disliked about the business, and how the listed business may or may not meet the prospective clients’ needs. Online reviews influence consumer confidence, and are far more trusted than advertising. When you ignore a negative review on your business listing, you allow the disgruntled former client to persuade your target customer at a ‘moment of truth’ — and that scenario is unlikely to work in your favor, especially if there are extremely critical falsehoods in the content of the review.

How to Monitor and Respond to Reviews of Your Business

Whether you use a third-party service or software, or have your in-house team track the feedback you get on the Internet, be vigilant about what people are saying about your business online and take strategic action to manage your reputation.

Learn the guidelines and procedures that each website has for responding to online reviews about your business. Contest or take action to remove a negative review if there are factual errors, and/or when you believe the review doesn’t meet the website’s review guidelines (and they erred in posting it). If there are no factual errors or guideline issues — and it’s simply negative opinion, explore your options for posting a response.

At Caring.com, we’ve seen dramatic increases in the “Provider Response” feature being used by senior living communities and home care agencies over the last couple of years. From 2012 to 2013, there was a 61% increase in the amount of provider responses posted in our Senior Care Directory, and from 2013 to 2014, the volume more than tripled. These savvy providers are paying attention to what’s being said about their service offering, and taking the opportunity to post responses to both negative and positive reviews on their listings. Here are some samples of their comments:

For assisted living and memory care communities listed on Caring.com: To earn the annual Caring Stars award, the stringent criteria require responding to negative reviews on your listing. You simply cannot qualify for a “service excellence” award if responding to critical feedback isn’t part of your service package.

Important to Note:

  • If you have an enhanced (paid) listing on Caring.com, you will receive automated alerts when new reviews are posted. Those review alerts will include convenient quick links to online forms where you can input information to contest a review or post a response.

For Review Responses: Carefully Craft Your Message

It’s natural to be angry or offended when someone badmouths you online. But you better cool down before you respond to critical feedback – especially when you think the consumer’s opinion is unfair, wrong, or ill intentioned. Remember, it’s the prospective client you are most influencing, and they may be more empathetic or receptive to the disgruntled former client and be more suspicious of you, especially if your words of the response reinforce any negative perceptions they may have about you.

Prospective clients know you’re not perfect, and they want to read both positive and negative reviews. In case they too have a problem or complaint at some point, they want to know they’ll be dealing with a reasonable person — not someone who goes ‘off the handle’ with negative feedback.

Tips:

  • Don’t go on the attack against reviewers over a difference of opinion or their word choice. For example, many consumers still use the term “nursing home” to apply to any senior living community with care services. If your community is not a skilled nursing facility, use the correct language for your service offering without berating the reviewer for their word choice mistake.Another common example: You may think your typically top-rated chef only makes the freshest, most delicious food. However, some reviewers may still call your community’s food terrible. That’s their opinion and they’re entitled to it — you have many options for how you respond to that person’s taste buds, and dismissing them through your words online shouldn’t be among the tactics you consider.A third, frequent example that comes up with negative reviews on Caring.com: Your opinion about the quality of phone service at your front desk or home care agency office may be radically different than the reviewer. Rather than argue that your sweet, mild-mannered receptionist is never rude, take the opportunity to thank the reviewer for their feedback, which you’ll take into consideration as you maintain delivery of excellence in all areas of your business.
  • Be very careful with your tone in any published response. Demonstrate that you’re open to hearing all feedback, and available to address concerns. Be an excellent communicator who handles challenges with grace and professionalism, isn’t argumentative, and is service oriented. Even if the person who reviewed you is totally out of line, it’s better to avoid being edgy, aggressive, arrogant, or rude. While a restaurateur may get some great press or accolades from such an approach, these styles don’t translate well in the senior care industry where you’re expected to be sensitive and kind in responding to complaints from those you serve.
  • Redirect the conversation to your customer service channels — provide your email, phone, Help Desk, etc. — where you can collect and share information about details of the complaint outside of the public eye, including sensitive information that shouldn’t be discussed online, such as information covered in HIPAA privacy law. If you encounter a less-optimized review website that is unlike Caring.com and does not allow you to include your phone number or email in a review response: use language to refer to ways your trained customer service team can be reached.
  • Avoid going tit for tat — resist the urge to debate the merits of every nit in the review. This approach will help you to avoid further damage to your online reputation, respect the privacy of the involved parties, and stay focused on positively influencing the prospective client.
  • Be authentic and conversational. Don’t sound like a robot. Your legal and PR staff may provide a “template” or text for you to use in all of your review responses, but if you overuse that approach, you can inadvertently come across as an insensitive, detached entity that doesn’t really care about hearing negative feedback or applying service changes to address concerns. When the same template response appears on every negative review, it can send a message that you’re not truly listening to the feedback of individual consumers, nor tailoring your response to meet individual needs. With this “same response to every negative review” approach, you can create a perception that your response is nothing more than a PR tactic, rather than true customer service.
  • Have empathy. Remember that family caregivers and older adults have a range of challenges that may be contributing to their negative words and tone toward your organization. It’s not an excuse for their behavior, but is a perspective that can help you craft a response demonstrating kindness and senior care expertise.
  • Be thankful for feedback. The reviewer took the time to alert you to their complaint, and now you have an opportunity to address it. Had they simply shared their opinions at an offline cocktail party, it would be out of earshot for your staff and you’d be left out of the conversation. With the online review, you have the ability to hear the message, reflect on the feedback, and respond as necessary.

In fact, consider approaching all negative reviews about your business with this question, “What can be learned from this feedback? Do we have opportunities here for improvement? How so?”

The answer may be as simple as: “Even though we did our best for that individual, we didn’t meet their needs/preferences, and we need to get more reviews from our happy clients to balance that online word-of-mouth.” Through Caring.com’s Digital Marketing Academy and monthly webcasts, we’ve covered our programs for generating senior care reviews, and will continue to cover that topic in upcoming posts on this blog too. In the meantime, please contact your Membership Advisor or community@caring.com to learn more about how to get consumer reviews on your Caring.com listing.

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