If you’re merely surveying your residents’ or employees’ satisfaction and not looking at their engagement , you’re missing valuable information

If you’re merely surveying your residents’ or employees’ satisfaction (how much they like what you’re doing) and not looking at their engagement (how well you’ve met their expectations), you’re missing valuable information that could take you from struggling with occupancy to full with a waiting list. That’s what I learned from my recent interview with William Nowell, founder of ServiceTrac, a Senior Housing Forum partner, that has been surveying residents and employees for both their satisfaction and their engagement for over 15 years. The Problem I spent some time with Will last week and he explained that the problem with satisfaction surveys is that they fall short when it comes to delivering the information needed to transform a community or any organization from good to excellent; or to move stakeholders from satisfied to engaged. Simply measuring satisfaction can lull you into a false sense of security where you think you are doing better than you really are.

Example 1

My week 16 tour article recounted my visit to an assisted living community that was not so great. If I had been told that I would have to spend the last months of my life there I would be depressed. What I envision for my last months/years is living in a senior community that is well lit and cheery. A place where there is life happening with joyful people buzzing around. A place where people say hello and chat a bit while passing by. A place where I was among friends and felt comfortable and safe. According to Will, here’s the problem. It is possible to create a satisfaction survey that will generate high scores even though the experience is mediocre. In other words, a satisfaction survey would not uncover the uncomfortable feelings I had in my gut. This kind of survey questions might look like this: Rate the following statements on a scale of 1 to 5, with 1 being not satisfied and 5 being satisfied. 1. The lobby was clean ____ (rate 1 to 5). 2. You were greeted immediately when you entered ____ (rate 1 to 5). 3. The manager seemed friendly and helpful ____ (rate 1 to 5). But, as Will noted, you could get a 5 for each of those and still not get the move in.

Example 2

I tell my wife I have a very special anniversary night planned. She and I get all dressed up and ready to go. We get in the car and I drive her to Taco Bell for dinner. After finishing our meal a worker asks my wife if she would be willing to take a survey about her Taco Bell experience. For every question, she gives Taco Bell a perfect score. Then the workers asks why we’re all dressed up, and beaming I answer, “We are here celebrating our anniversary.” The worker then turns to my wife and asks if Taco Bell was what she expected for her anniversary . . . . Why Expectations Are More Valuable Will explained there is a wealth of data that tells us that satisfaction and engagement (another term for having expectations met) are not the same thing. Someone can be satisfied and yet not be engaged. Engaged customers and employees are far more likely to recommend your community to a friend or relative, and when issues arise, as they always do, they are far easier to work with. Some Things to Think About These are some broad areas that customer expectations surveys look at: 1. What is the relationship between the residents and your staff? 2. How does your community’s Mission and Values resonate with the residents and families you serve? 3. How would the residents rate your company’s routine communication with them? 4. What aspect of your service contributes most to the residents’ overall satisfaction? Only by understanding your stakeholders values and expectations do you truly understand what’s important to them. That’s why ServiceTrac has been focused on measuring and reporting engagement since its inception. This means helping clients create real, long-term value with staff, residents, and families. ServiceTrac has created a document titled:Twelve Reasons To Measure Both Employee Satisfaction and Employee Engagement (registration not required) that specifically looks at employee satisfaction and engagement, but many of the principals apply to residents and families as well.

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How well do you understand your resident, family and team members’ expectations? Do you know how you are doing against those expectations? Steve Moran

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