Like it or not, online reviews matter. According to a December 2016 report by the Pew Research Center, 82% of U.S. adults say they at least sometimes consult online reviews and customer ratings before purchasing an item for the first time, while 40% say they always or nearly always rely on reviews.
As a result, it’s important that your senior living organization stay on top of managing and responding to online reviews. Below are five tips for doing it right:
1. Have a presence on the appropriate review sites
Yelp and Google+ are standard for companies across all industries, but it’s important to make sure you’re listed on the appropriate industry review sites (e.g. Caring.com, SeniorAdvisor.com, A Place for Mom, etc.) as well. These sites are often the ones that more serious leads and referral sources will consult, so if your organization isn’t present on them, you are likely losing business as a result.
2. Respond to all reviews, good and bad
One of the most positive things a company can do for its reputation is to respond appropriately to all types of customer feedback. When someone writes a glowing online review, let them know you’re thrilled to hear about their experience. If a review seems lukewarm, ask for offline feedback on how the experience could be improved. Responses to negative reviews should include an apology that the customer’s experience was anything less than exceptional and address concerns as specifically as possible without violating HIPAA, encouraging them to reach out offline so you can better understand and resolve the issue. Always be sure to thank the customer for taking the time to write an online review, regardless of whether it casts your organization in a positive or negative light.
3. Respond to online reviews in a timely manner
Make sure you’re set up to receive email notifications when a new review comes in on any of the platforms your organization is listed on. Your goal should be to respond to reviews as quickly as possible while still taking the time to be thoughtful and careful in your responses. Responding promptly not only helps resolve issues more quickly, it also makes your organization look more attentive and customer-centric.
4. Don’t get defensive
It’s normal to feel defensive when your business gets a nasty review, especially when you don’t think the criticism is valid or warranted — but don’t let that defensiveness show in your response. Instead, focus on acknowledging the customer’s experience, asserting your organization’s values and offering the opportunity for further dialogue so that a resolution can be reached. There are also ways to include positive references of your organization without invalidating the reviewer. For example, if they say “my dad had a horrible experience living at this community,” you can respond with something like “we’ve gotten lots of positive feedback from our residents about the experience of living at our community and we’d love to know more about how we could’ve improved your father’s experience. Please feel free to give us a call.”
5. Encourage your customers to write online reviews
Next time a resident or family member tells you how wonderful their experience at your community has been, smile, thank them and ask them to consider writing an online review. It’s a great way to maximize and publicize positive feedback without much extra effort for the customer or organization. Some companies, including Caring.com and Senior Advisor, even offer postcards that allow your customers to hand-write reviews and mail them back to be posted online.
By responding to online reviews thoughtfully, consistently and in a timely manner, and by requesting reviews from happy customers, your organization can be proactive in managing its online reputation while becoming more visible to its target audience.
Sounds like a win to us.