Let families know you received their request.
Set up an auto-response e-mail confirmation to go out the instant you get a lead. Your message can be short — just “Thank you” and “We’ll be in touch” — but it needs to be immediate so the caregiver knows her request has been received.
Be sensitive to communication mode.
A lot of factors might affect a customer’s choice to submit an online lead form instead of picking up the phone to call you. For some, it’s just a matter of convenience — they’re not near a phone or are too busy to talk in depth.
For others, though, the online form offers a discreet way to reach out. Perhaps they’re researching while they’re at work. Or perhaps they don’t want their loved one to overhear the phone call.
To be safe, be sensitive when you reach out to the customer. Ask if it’s a convenient time to talk, and if it’s not, schedule a better time. And if the customer writes a note in her care request that specifically asks you to respond by e-mail only, respect that request.
Answer their questions — fast.
Make sure to send a thoughtful response to each lead or care request as quickly as you can — within the same day if at all possible. We’re not kidding about this. We’ve talked to several major partners who’ve done formal studies of their online leads, and they all say that there’s a major drop-off if you even wait one extra day to call. (One partner reports a 7X lift in connect rate for calls returned on Day One versus Day Two.)
In addition to that phone call, we recommend that you write a detailed follow-up e-mail to each care request. Personalize this e-mail and refer back to the information you’ve learned about them so far from their care request notes or from your phone conversation.
Did the customer tell you she has an 89-year-old father? Let her know how many of your clients are that age. Did your customer’s mother break her hip? Write a sentence or two about your amazing physical therapy program. To save time, draft a set of standard answers to the most common questions. Topics frequently mentioned in care requests on Caring.com include:
This first e-mail should also tell the customer what the next steps are. Help set expectations and move him or her forward in the decision-making process. You might say, “Call me to schedule a tour” or “Please come to our community picnic this weekend” or “I’ll be calling you tomorrow to schedule a time to talk more about your mother’s needs and our availability.”
In these initial communications with families, try to determine which ones are closest to making a decision. These are the families you’ll want to keep at the top of your priority list. Some will tell you their timing; other factors for you to watch for are:
- Loved one is dealing with memory problems (if you provide memory care)
- Loved one is taking large number of prescribed medications and/or requires help managing medications
- Family is caring for loved one 10+ hours per week
- Loved one has experienced a recent accident or incident
Our partners at one major assisted living chain tell us they send a follow-up e-mail after one week. They send another one after three weeks. When you check in with your customers, revisit the topics you covered in your first e-mail and ask again, directly: Can you schedule a time to talk further? Would they like to take a tour? What other questions do they have?
If the lead hasn’t blossomed into a relationship from the first phone call and the first few e-mail messages, it’s time for your e-mail nurture campaign.
When to send: Send e-mails to prospective clients every 2 to 4 weeks.
How to send: If your business is small, you might manage your nurture campaign from your regular e-mail client — Outlook, Gmail, etc. As your list grows, you’ll want a tool to make sending e-mails easier. Tools such as Constant Contact, VerticalResponse, iContact, and others can help you manage your contacts, create e-mails, send and deliver e-mails, and monitor responses. Do some research to find out what option is best for you. (Many offer free trial periods.)
What to send: The best way to build a relationship is to deliver value. Make sure your message is useful and provides an immediate benefit to the family reading it. Good messages also convey the warmth and personality of your organization.
If you’re still not sure what to write, here are some links that might spark ideas:
- Check out Caring.com to see resources families love. You can’t reprint our content without permission, but you can link to us. (Let us know if you’d like more guidance about linking to us.)
- Set up a Google alert for keywords like “Alzheimer’s” or “elder care” — you’ll be notified whenever something new gets published. If you see something you think will interest your families, write a few sentences about it and provide a link.
- The “New Old Age” blog in the New York Times has great articles. Again, if you see something you like, you can write a couple of sentences about it and share the link.
- Keep an eye on your local news — is there anything happening near you that you can talk about? Are there special events for seniors in your town? If there’s a snowstorm, can you give tips for navigating snow in a wheelchair? Always be on the lookout for opportunities to share your expertise.
Not getting enough Internet leads?
Next to your own website, the best way to help families find you online is to set up your Enhanced Listing on Caring.com. To get your Enhanced Listing and begin receiving care requests, call your Caring Advisor at (866) 824-9209.
If you opt to buy leads from other vendors, make sure to do your homework. Know how they’re generating their leads: Search Engine Marketing? Online banners? Know what they’re doing with those leads — are they giving them to only a few providers, or to dozens? All this information can help you modulate your marketing efforts (and judge the quality of the leads you get).
Your to-do list:
- Set up your auto-response confirmation for all Internet leads you receive
- Schedule time each day (or several times a day) for follow-up phone calls and e-mails in response to incoming Internet leads
- Schedule time each day for follow-up e-mails to families at the top of your priority list
- Draft template responses for the most common topics in the inquiries you receive
- Determine whether you need an e-mail campaign management tool, and select a vendor
- Develop content for your nurture campaign
- Make sure you’re getting enough Internet leads: Sign up to get automated care requests from Caring.com
Reach your Caring Advisor today at (866) 824-9209.
Kate Antheil Boyd is Former VP of Content at Caring.com, the web’s #1 source for senior care reviews. We help families find information, support, and local services to help with their caregiving journey. We also help senior service providers connect with the families who need them.
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