Testimonials are just the beginning. Make your surveys work harder!

By Susan Saldibar

Most senior care providers agree that getting open and honest input from families of senior living community residents is important, primarily for these reasons:

  • Gives families a “voice” in how your community is run.

  • Provides a conduit for candid input.

  • Helps neutralize existing issues by giving people an outlet to let off steam.

  • Identifies areas for improvement.

  • Shows the industry that you are constantly looking for ways to improve.

But, according to Michael Johnson, VP of Research for ServiceTrac, a Senior Housing Forum partner, they could be doing even more.

Testimonials are just the beginning. Make your surveys work harder!

“One of the greatest missed opportunities is not squeezing all the value out of your surveys,” says Michael. “Typically, marketing will use surveys as a source for testimonials, sprinkling them here and there, then leaving it at that. But there is so much more strategic value that survey input can add.”

Next time your community conducts a survey, Michael recommends taking these steps:

  1. Evaluate the strengths and weaknesses revealed in your surveys. Where are the consistencies? Is there a pattern?

  2. Identify any new strengths you have not previously been aware of.

  3. Re-evaluate all your content – website, brochures, and social media. Are these strengths articulated in your copy?

  4. If not, adjust your copy to add them in. Be sure to use descriptive keywords and phrases that will be picked up by people using them in their searches for senior care.

  5. Update your value proposition and the key selling points your sales team is using in their phone calls and emails.

  6. Adjust your sales campaign copy as needed; email campaigns, advertising, trade show booth placards, etc.

  7. Finally, create an atmosphere that feeds “word of mouth” marketing. That means encouraging those who have responded positively in your survey to:

    • Post their kind remarks to consumer rating sites, such as Yelp and caring.com, a Senior Housing Forum partner.

    • Head up a special group or panel within your senior living community.

But wait. What about those not-so-great results?

If ever there was an area where a negative can be turned into a positive, this is it. But first of all, commit to making the necessary improvements.

Once you are on the path towards correcting any issues and making improvements, add the following steps to your list:

  1. Position your community as one with a “culture of continuous improvement”, to borrow a phrase coined by the National Center for Assisted Living (NCAL).

  2. Announce improvements as you make them and celebrate major milestones.

  3. Conduct regular follow up surveys to gauge the satisfaction after making improvements. Use them to feed the culture of continuous improvement cycle.

“Transparency sells today more than ever,” says Michael. “The fact that you are conducting surveys will be looked upon favorably. Remember, many of today’s family members are Baby B omers. They expect transparency. So they will peer behind the curtains anyway. Why not share your evolving pursuit of excellence with them?”