By Joanne Kaldy
These days, every dollar is an investment for consumers. And they check online reviews before they open their wallet, write a check, or hand over their credit card. In senior living, they may not tour your community or answer your call after filling out an online lead form if your reviews aren’t stellar. Reviews are the modern-day “drive-by.”
In fact, 87% of consumers read online reviews for local businesses, up from 81% in 2019. And 52% of U.S. adults age 55+ won’t use a business that has an overall average rating lower than 4 stars. Caring.com (a Foresight partner) has a new service to help communities get more reviews from the people who know them best: residents and families.
Introducing Reviews by Phone
In a new industry-first service for its senior living partners, Caring now offers a toll-free review call-in line to collect reviews from any of your community’s cognitively healthy residents and any resident’s family members who have firsthand experiences with your services within the last 3 years. It’s easy and efficient:
- You give the toll-free number to your residents and their family members (contact [email protected] to get the new phone number and “Review Us on Caring” handouts) — your customers then call the Caring phone line when it’s convenient for them.
- Callers reach Caring’s review collection agents, who are highly trained in review collection by phone. They will take the caller through a brief interview to collect detailed, quality reviews about your community’s services. (They will also continue to screen out invalid reviews, such as those from employees, competitors, or vendors.)
- The review collection call is recorded, transcribed, and posted to the correct listing.
- And Caring’s partner communities, as well as consumers who provide an email address, get instant alerts via email when the reviews are published.
Caring’s review collection agents are available Monday-Friday, 10:00am – 7:00pm Eastern. Callers will reach voicemail if the agents are on the line helping other callers or if it’s after hours. For every voicemail message received, Caring will call the consumer back that same business day or the next business day to collect the review.
Collecting Meaningful Information
Caring will also continue to make outreach calls to the seniors and family caregivers it refers to partner communities — to collect reviews from those individuals too. However, this year, Caring.com is sunsetting its reviews-by-postcard program, which wasn’t effective for generating a high volume of high-quality reviews for senior living communities.
The postcard reviews were very slow, often too brief to be meaningful, and frequently arrived to Caring incomplete or unusable. If your community still has any blank Caring postcards for reviews, please get in touch with [email protected] ASAP to get the expiration date details.
More Than Ever, Reviews Are Heavyweights
Especially during the COVID pandemic, when people can’t visit some communities in person, reviews can carry more weight. For instance, in a BrightLocal study, they found that 94% of consumers are more likely to use a business based on positive reviews, up from 91% in 2019. At the same time, 92% say that negative reviews make them less likely to use a business, up 10% over last year; and 8 in 10 say they trust online reviews as much as personal recommendations.
With consumers putting this much stock into online reviews, what they say can have a ripple effect. Reviews echo throughout the community at large to friends, families, neighbors, business colleagues, and beyond.
Your Response to Reviews Also Matters
Caring.com not only helps its partner communities get reviews, they also help partners to monitor and respond to published reviews with efficiency and convenience via instant New Review Alerts. Alternatively, senior living communities can use Caring’s integration with Reputation.com to monitor all reviews published on their Caring.com listings and publish review responses via the fastest-processing queue.
For communities outside Caring’s partner network, and for those not yet using Reputation.com, the business needs to manually monitor their own listing(s) and email [email protected] to respond. Responding to 1-star and 2-star reviews is particularly important. That is one of the requirements to be considered for the annual Caring Stars service excellence award honoring the most highly-rated communities nationwide. See who shines on this list for 2021 — Caring has found that Caring Stars communities get twice as many inquiries and three times as many move-ins than their partners without the award.
A Harvard Business Review study in 2018 of the hotel industry also found that when businesses responded to online reviews, they saw a 12% increase in the volume of reviews they subsequently received and higher ratings too. BrightLocal reports that the vast majority of online consumers are reading businesses’ responses to reviews. And for 71%, it can influence whether or not they use that business. Among boomers and seniors researching senior living online or using Caring’s referrals services, a third said “It lets me know the business cares” — that you’re listening to your customers’ feedback in online reviews and taking it to heart, including taking the time to respond publicly online.
When it comes to helping communities have well-managed — or stellar — online reputations, Caring.com has you covered.
Have questions about Caring’s industry-leading reviews program? Contact [email protected] at (650) 762-8190 for more information. Not a Caring.com partner yet? No problem. Contact [email protected] to become one. Caring also offers a wealth of information about its reviews program on its partner blog.