Why is senior living reputation management so important? Well, let’s face it: people rely on online reviews more now than ever before. So, what people say about your community MATTERS (regardless whether you agree with their assessment or not).
Consider the following stats:
- According to a Harvard Business School study, a one-star increase in Yelp rating leads to a 5-9 percent increase in revenue.
- Search Engine Land reports that 87% of potential customers won’t consider businesses with poor ratings.
- Search Engine Journal reminds us that more reviews are better. In fact, according to research, people won’t even begin to believe the average star ratings unless there are at least 40 reviews.
And that’s just the tip of a very large iceberg when it comes to stats about consumers and online reviews.
This shouldn’t surprise any of us senior living marketers. After all, we’re consumers, too. We seek out reviews (and judge businesses accordingly) just like everyone else.
The problem is, the senior living industry lags behind most other industries in creating and managing a strong online and social media presence.
Let’s change that, OK? Here are some strategies for better senior living reputation management.
1. Claim your profiles and listings.
Claim listings, particularly on Google My Business. Double check Google Maps as well. And don’t overlook Yahoo! and Bing Places pages. (Whether you know it or not, your senior living community has a listing on all these sites.)
Check out places like Senior Advisor and Caring.com, too. (Again, there’s a good chance your community is already on there.) Senior Advisor has an extensive section in its FAQs for senior living operators regarding how to claim your listing and keep it updated.
2. Review and enhance your community’s profiles.
Claiming the listings isn’t enough. You must treat each listing as a mini version of your senior living website. You should have up-to-date logos, messaging, and contact info.
Check out all of your online profiles for accuracy and use all available opportunities to provide content. Photos continue to be the most viewed components, and virtual tours are also very effective.
3. Engage with and respond to reviewers (within reason).
Responding to positive reviews is straightforward. Thank the person for taking the time to leave such positive feedback. You don’t necessarily need to respond to EVERY positive review, particularly if you have a lot and/or if there’s a “like” function you can hit.
Negative reviews are trickier. First, every product and service on the planet has bad reviews, from Shakespeare to Squatty Potty. Your community won’t escape it.
And keep in mind that not all negative reviews are “real.” You’ll be able to identify the difference pretty quickly, as will readers, so don’t worry too much about ones that appear fake. To be safe, you can certainly respond with something simple: “We’re sorry to hear about your experience. We’d like the opportunity to make things right…or to at least discuss further. Please contact …” And then provide a REAL name and a real phone number (a direct line or extension). Don’t send people to voice mail hell.
For negative reviews that feel legit, you can do a version of the same thing above, but perhaps go a little further. “We’re really grateful for your feedback, even though it’s hard to hear. We’d like to discuss this further and see if we can make things right, or, at least, better. Would you be willing to discuss? If yes, please contact…”
You might hear from some folks, but not others. Either way is OK. Because what you WILL have accomplished is this: you’ll demonstrate to other people reading through the reviews that you’re paying attention to feedback, both good and bad.
When it comes to strategies for senior living reputation management, here are some things to NEVER do when responding to negative reviews:
- Never act defensive.
- Never correct the person’s account of events, even if it’s 100% inaccurate. Their perception of events isn’t the same as yours. They are free to write what they want.
- Never use foul language, passive aggressive language, or veiled threats.
Remember, an occasional bad review is not the end of the day, as long as there are some positive reviews that put it in perspective and provide balance.
4. Respond quickly (and not just to the reviewer).
If there is a pattern of negative comments, respond quickly to address the issue AT THE COMMUNITY LEVEL.
In other words, if people are bringing up the same issues repeatedly or naming the same team member, you need to address the issues within the community.
Issues can vary widely. For example…
- If people keep complaining that your senior living website is lacking critical info or has outdated info, get with the marketing team and make a plan for fixing it.
- If people are complaining about a certain team member, connect with HR on how best to resolve the issue, which might include specific training.
- And so forth.
Start to look at negative reviews as an opportunity to improve your community at every level.
5. Be proactive in soliciting reviews.
Remember, the more reviews, the better.
- Encourage reviews throughout the resident’s stay.
- After a prospect chooses your community, send a link to review sites and ask them to comment about why they chose your community.
- After a successful resident and family event or a great state survey or nomination to a local “Best Of” award, reach out to residents and recent prospects alike and provide links to online review opportunities.
6. Don’t overlook your senior living staff!
Sites like Glassdoor also provide great insight into what it’s like to work in your community. This is particularly important for the senior living industry since happy employees will provide a happier experience for residents. Not to mention, more and more savvy shoppers will start looking at sites like Glassdoor to get a sense of what employees think about the senior living community they’re working in.
(And treat these reviews in a similar fashion. You don’t need to respond directly, but you should address issues within your community that come up repeatedly. Again, start with HR.)
7. Share positive reviews.
In your senior living marketing materials, you can share positive reviews. This is known as “social proof.” It’s much more compelling when other people are saying how wonderful your community is. Share the reviews on social media, on the website, in brochures, and in print ads.
Remember: Reviews matter!
The bottom line is that your prospects and their families are already talking about your community. Now is the time to listen, respond, and join the conversation.