Joseph Hall once said, “A reputation once broken may possibly be repaired, but the world will always keep their eyes on the spot where the crack was.”
According to a 2015 survey conducted by brightlocal.com, 92% of people rely on online reviews with 40% of readers forming an opinion based on an average of 1-3 reviews. This study also found that eight out of ten consumers will trust an online review over a personal recommendation if they believe the review is authentic. If your business hasn’t entered the online customer review forum, here are three reasons why it’s time to join.
The reviews are already out there.
Whether you are aware or not, people’s opinions of your business are likely public already. Make it a habit to check out the sites where public reviewers have shared their experiences. Statistics show that almost half (48%) of older adults and family caregivers look to senior care review sites for information. Sites such as SeniorHomes.com, Caring.com and others post information on current pricing, ratings, and personal reviews for facilities ranging from assisted living and Alzheimer’s care to nursing homes and in-home care services.
“You can’t please everybody your community serves, but you can and should pay attention to what consumers are saying about your business online,” said Denise Graab, director of industry marketing for Caring.com. “On some review platforms, you can easily take action to get factually inaccurate reviews removed, or you can post a response and make a positive impression.”
Have a plan in place.
If your business has received five stars or a glowing review from a customer, well done. But the marketing shouldn’t end there. Post your appreciation so potential customers can see. If a disgruntled customer has made his or her frustration public, have a plan in place to reach out to that customer, and have the tools ready to make the situation right.
“Be very mindful of the tone and content of your response,” said Graab. “The opinion of the reviewer may already be solidified, and your comments can be most influential for others considering touring your community. Graab added that customers want to know that if for some reason they have a problem or concern, they truly can approach management and be well received. “Your review response can help persuade them that is really the case,” she said.
When the service at Lake Ridge Senior Living received low stars on an customer review site for caregivers, Scott Hansen, the executive director, quickly put a strategy in place to reach out to the customer to find out what happened and offer solutions. Hansen and his team discovered that the efforts that go into remedying a negative situation often carry lasting effects that extend beyond the initial infraction. Ultimately, the customer removed the negative review.
Don’t hide from customer feedback sites for fear of getting a negative review. Instead, a business should see a possible negative review as an opportunity for your business to make things right—even better than before.
Instead of waiting to react to customer reviews, many of today’s skilled nursing facilities are promoting the review as part of their marketing strategy.
“A great way to get your positive reviews going is to have your happy customers start the conversation,” Brian Sparker suggested. “Then you can share your best reviews on senior care networks.”
The goal is to make customer reviews an integral part of your marketing plan and build a large presence on senior care sites that consumers can refer to when making a decision on care for a loved one.
Stacey DeBroff of InfluenceCentral.com wrote, “Ninety-one percent of women consumers consider an online review more important than input from a salesperson in a store.” This means consumers are likely researching your services before you even know it. An online presence on customer review sites can influence them to contact you over a competing business.
Marketing has invaded a whole new medium in online review sites. By recognizing the existing online presence, being prepared to handle online customer service issues, and proactively creating an online presence, you’ll be seeing stars in no time. Five stars, that is.
About The Author: Amy Osmond Cook
Dr. Amy Osmond Cook is executive director of the Association of Skilled Nursing Providers (ASNP). She received her Ph.D. from the University of Utah in Communication, and is a regular health and wellness contributor to the Orange County Register, Daily Herald, Senior Scene, Senior Housing Forum, and more. She’s also currently the host of Good Day Orange County, a local television program for Laguna Woods, a senior community with more than 18,000 residents. Her full profile is available on LinkedIn.
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