Satisfaction, or Expectation Surveys, are important tools used to gain insight into the quality of your senior living community. But just completing a survey should not be the end goal.

By Susan Saldibar

Satisfaction, or Expectation Surveys, are important tools used to gain insight into the quality of your senior living community. But just completing a survey should not be the end goal. Community managers sometimes make the mistake of conducting the survey and letting the results sit without any follow up. What they don’t know is that those results hold a treasure trove of information and actionable discoveries that could improve even the best facilities.

I reached out to Michael Johnson of ServiceTrac, a Senior Housing Forum partner, to talk about the best ways to optimize survey results. He mentioned that there are many ways senior living communities can optimize their survey results to improve their services.

Here are 5 key ways to get the most out of your satisfaction survey results:

1. Seek Hidden Opportunities

It is easy to spot glaring problems and areas of major concern, but even the highest rated senior living community should find valuable information in their results.  Community managers should try to avoid complacency by seeking out hidden opportunities; use positive survey results to explore additional options and services in popular areas that can add even greater value to your staff and residents. And, if you happen to have negative survey results, you can use that feedback as an opportunity to address and improve fundamental issues within your community. You have an opportunity to transform merely satisfied residents and family members into raging fans of your services, simply by focusing on the things they identify as important.

Recently a community in Maine felt like their scores were very good because their average score was way above the industry average. While the average was good, Michael pointed out that a whole group of residents were feeling disenfranchised. You need to really look at the results to know where the opportunities exist.

2. Analyze Results In Context

Be sure to look at your results in context. A complaint about the brand of ketchup versus complaints about unsanitary living conditions are two very different things, and thus, deserve different levels of attention and resources. Effectively evaluate items that are in the best interest of your residents like good nutrition, staff interaction and overall wellbeing.

3. Happy Staff Equals Happy Residents

Your staff is your most important asset in improving resident satisfaction. Sometimes the fastest way to improve the experience for residents is to focus on delivering a quality experience to your team members. Team members who are happy with their work environment treat residents well. At the end of the day, that translates into high satisfaction scores for every community. Find areas in your survey results that create opportunities for you to praise your staff. Frequently there will be specific comments about staff that can be read in staff meetings or put in staff communications. Consider rewarding staff that get positive praise. This will help them understand how seriously you take the survey results.

4. Look For Unexpected, Valuable Insight From Residents

Read the positive and negative comments from your results. You will almost always find helpful tips in the comments. Your residents often have rich life experiences and are willing to apply their valuable insights to help your community and business. As an example, Michael recently received feedback from a resident who had worked his whole career in senior living communities and was able to give helpful operational insight. In another instance, a former airline pilot provided useful commentary about customer service, recalling the training he had used to offer helpful insights into handling high stress moments in the community. Don’t discount the experience and feedback of your residents.

5. Don’t Let Questions Go Unanswered

When you review your results and read your comments you may find yourself asking questions like:

  • What caused the low score in the area you thought you were doing well in?
  • Why did one location score so much higher than the rest in a given area?
  • What do I need to do to improve the perception of this staff?
  • What do you think is meant by that comment?

These are natural questions that come to mind as an administrator reviews the survey results. It is strongly advised that you never let these questions go unanswered.

After initially evaluating the results, write down your questions and then create a plan to get the answers. One method ServiceTrac employs in answering these is a Listening Group. In a Listening Group, senior management or an outside organization, such as ServiceTrac, conducts a session similar to a focus group, where these questions can be asked and residents can openly share their thoughts and feelings. If handled correctly, these groups lead to uncommonly helpful revelations that get to the root of how residents feel. This kind of interaction is instrumental to fostering a healthy, thriving senior community.