By Steve Moran

A few years ago there was a lot of talk about senior living consumer reviews. Mostly at Caring.com (a Senior Living Foresight partner), on Yelp, and, to a lesser degree, on Glassdoor by employees. As a result of those conversations, many, maybe most, senior living organizations got on the review train, which was a good thing.

The bad thing though, is that reviews are a critical and never-ending part of your marketing strategy, or at least they should be. And many senior living organizations have gotten lazy about reviews.

Current Thinking

At SMASH, Senior Care Marketing Sales Summit that took place a few weeks ago, Annie Haarmann, the head of Strategy & Consulting, Healthcare & Life Sciences for Reputation.com talked about senior living consumer reviews today.

A couple of weeks after the conference, I had a chance to interview her. You can watch the entire interview at the bottom of the article but here are the high points:

Pay Attention to Google

  • Google is giving reviews much more weight than in the past. This means that if you want to show up high in google reviews you must have enough reviews and good reviews. The reason for this is that Google wants to be the first stop for every consumer journey. In other words, they want you to start with your “Google My Business” listing (which you have, right?).
  • Because of this focus by Google, you may need to sacrifice some of your community website traffic in favor of your “My Business” listing. You need to create a great experience for the consumer on your listing. This means having reviews . . . 
    • that are current and that you have responded to
    • contain photos
    • include contact information
    • As much info as you can manage

Constantly Solicit Reviews

  • Negative reviews are a reality for every business including senior living. First, except in very rare cases, you cannot get reviews removed. The best way to combat negative reviews is to solicit reviews from all of your residents, their family members, and team members. This does two things: 1) It pushes the negative reviews down the page; and 2) it improves your critically important overall review score.
  • Requesting reviews should be a regular part of your cadence of doing business. Every week or every month you should be asking for reviews. You should also regularly be looking at your reviews and responding to them, good or bad.
  • Having only 5-star reviews may not be as great as it seems because many consumers assume that if all they see are glowing reviews, those reviews are not legitimate.

Address Negative Reviews

  • If you get a negative review start by being empathic. When done right you are sending a powerful message to the world that you are empathic. Not just to the consumer who registered the complaint but that you care about all customers and all prospects.

    There are a couple of other things you can do. The first is to attempt to take the discussion off-line by provide an email address and/or a phone number they can call; and then, of course, respond promptly.  The second is to not use the same “canned” one or two responses. You will come off like you don’t care.
  • Learn from your negative reviews. It may very well be that the complaint is legitimate and by paying attention you will improve how you do business, which can lead to better reviews, higher occupancy, and a better bottom line.

Here is the entire interview: