The Senior Care Industry’s Guide To Online Reviews

When choosing an assisted living facility, key factors include cost, amenities, and the appearance of the facility. That's why senior care reviews matter. Read More...

It's a rapidly growing industry.

The senior population is expected to reach 83.7 million. Projections are that 10,000 people per day will turn 65 for the next 20 years. It's also estimated that one in five Americans will be age 65 or older by 2030. It's no surprise then that industry revenues are expected to grow from 180 to 300 billion in 2020.

It's a massive increase.

Here's the interesting part. The number of senior care service providers in the United States was just 58,500 in 2012, with that number serving 8 million seniors.

The industry is growing quickly. It's part of the reason senior care reviews are so important.

Why reviews are important to the senior care industry

The industry is seeing a tremendous amount of growth right now. If we look at Google Trends, we see that search volume for specific keyword queries like "senior living" has increased by 200 percent since 2006.

See for yourself.

Here's the interesting part.

Interest in specific queries like "nursing homes" have decreased by approximately 54% during that same time. Here's why reviews are important to the senior care industry.

When searchers read reviews, they focus their attention on a few key areas.

These three areas were crucial components, holding searcher attention the longest. Here's the surprising part about senior care reviews.

Software Advice discovered that many more people use online reviews to choose assisted living facilities than they do to choose doctors or lawyers. A strong online review portfolio is a make-or-break decision for assisted living facilities and senior care providers.

The current state of reviews in the senior care industry

Research shows online reviews are a crucial component to success in the industry. When it comes to online reviews, facilities are on top of their game then, right?

Not so much, no.

A brief scan of Yelp shows there's not much in the way of strong reviews.

Same thing for Google.

assisted living google local pack chicago

What about industry-specific sites like Golden Reviews?

Nope, senior care facilities struggled with the same problems. It seems the majority of senior care facilities do not have a strong review portfolio. As we've seen above, the research shows customers rely on reviews, primarily as a research, vetting and validation tool. That's an issue for many providers in the senior care industry.

There's a smidgen of positive reviews in their portfolio.

It simply isn't enough for most potential customers. That's bad news for most senior care facilities and providers, but it's fantastic news for your facility and agencies. A strong review management campaign can deliver enormous returns if the approach is consistent, thoughtful and balanced.

Why senior care reviews are a competitive advantage

You already have the answer.

The vast majority of searchers (customers) are looking for an abundance of online reviews as part of the research, vetting and validation process. This is something most senior care facilities and providers can't deliver. While many facilities and providers have positive reviews, there simply isn't enough for prospects to make an informed decision.

As a result, these facilities are losing business.

Facilities with a strong review portfolio and an abundance of online reviews have a significant and overwhelming advantage.

What kind of keywords are searchers using? Let's take a look.

Keyword: assisted living

Keyword: senior living

See the modifiers?

Searchers are using specific sets of modifiers to refine their searches.

  • (Name) assisted living
  • (Location) assisted living
  • Assisted living (location)
  • Assisted living (near me)
  • (Veterans) assisted living
  • Assisted living (cost)
  • Assisted living vs. (option)

Once searchers have a list of possible options, they use online reviews to refine their results further. Finally, they use online reviews validate their decision.

There's another surprising piece to this puzzle.

According to Software Advice, the most popular and trusted online source for assisted living facility and senior care provider reviews was Google via local searches. In fact, Google surpassed other established review platforms like SeniorAdvisor.com, Caring.com and GoldenReviews.com.

Has Google made these platforms irrelevant?

Not at all. With a strong and balanced review portfolio, senior care facilities and providers can generate a significant amount of traffic, leads and sales.

How senior care providers should request reviews

There are three ways providers can approach review requests. They can make requests directly with residents, via their families or both.

A large number of your reviews will come directly from the families of your residents. This is a difficult ask because you'll need to manage a few details to earn the reviews you need from your resident's families.

1. Resident perception. Your residents will have their own feelings on a variety of factors pertinent to your business. The level of care they've received, resident/patient care, access to various amenities, etc.

2. Familial perception. The families of your residents will have their own perception of your business as well. This is dependent on several factors - what your residents tell their family about your facility, their family's independent perception of your facility, positive or negative sentiment - created via online reviews, experiences during their visits, etc.

3. Familial interest. It's a sad part of this industry but it's something you'll need to account for. Some families aren't all that interested in the well being of the seniors in their lives. If they're uninterested, they may not be good targets for your review management campaigns. There's a variety of interest levels you'll need to manage for.

Interested, hands-off: These families are interested in the level of care and service you provide their seniors, but they don't visit often; this may be due to the diagnosis or geographic constraints.

Interested, hands-on: These families visit often, are attentive, engaged and very focused on the level of care provided.

Uninterested hands-off: They aren't interested in the care you provide their seniors. They don't/won't visit and would be deeply offended if these unpleasant truths were brought to light.

This requires a certain level of sophistication. If facilities want the review from individual residents (or their families), they may need to provide a certain degree of handholding.

This needs to be handled with discretion and care.

Sophisticated residents may feel offended at the assumption that they are old, unknowledgeable and incapable. Unsophisticated residents may feel embarrassed and unwilling to admit that they don't know enough to provide you with the review you're requesting.

Here are some templates you can use to make your request to your residents.

Sophisticated resident review request template

Hi [Resident Name],

Now that you've been with us for [duration], I wanted to ask.

How are things going?

Is there anything we can do to make you happier? I really want to make sure you feel at home, in your new home. πŸ˜‰

If there's anything we can do to make things even better, would you let us know?

I'm glad you're here with us.

Unsophisticated resident review request template

Hi [Resident Name],

I have a question for you, now that you're all settled in.

How do you feel about your new home? Is there anything we can do to make you happier? I really want to make sure you feel at home, in your new home. πŸ˜‰

If there's anything we can do to make things even better would you let us know?

I'm glad you're here with us.

Here are some templates you can use to make your requests to the families of your residents.

Interested, hands-on (Family Review Request)

Hi [Family Member Name],

Your [Resident Family Member] is all settled in.

It's been a pleasure having [resident] with us these past few [weeks]. [Resident] says they're enjoying it here, and that it's better than they expected. I wanted to ask.

What do you think?

We're interested in your feedback. Would you be willing to share your experience with us?

If so, you can share your story here [review funnel link].

Interested, hands-off (Family Review Request)

Hi [Family Member Name],

I want to thank you for trusting us to take care of your [Resident Family Member]. They've settled in nicely, they've stated that things are going well. I had a question for you.

How did we do?

We're interested in your feedback. Would you be willing to share your experience with us?

If so, you can share your story here [review funnel link].

You can use/customize either of these templates. They can be adapted for any medium or channel (face-to-face, email, direct mail, SMS, etc.) so long as your customers can handle it.

What if you receive feedback?

Ask your residents if they would be willing to share their feedback with other families online. Notice I didn't say share on other sites. You're far more likely to earn a review if your request is positioned properly (i.e., taking care of other seniors or helping their families).

If your resident is sophisticated, simply transcribe their feedback, share it with them and post it online. What if they're unsophisticated? You'll need to provide them with the handholding they need to generate your review. The keyword here is guidance, not coaching.

Give your seniors a chance to opt-out at any time.

Who should be responsible for these reviews?

You're looking for someone with a tremendous amount of patience, empathy and kindness. You may have better luck if you ask someone close to your resident. It's incredibly important that this process remains a request. You'll want to avoid any appearance of unethical behavior here, no manipulation, bullying, coercion, or control over your resident.

This isn't about whether you'd use those strategies against your resident or not (you wouldn't); it's about avoiding any appearance or taint of unethical behavior.

Using reviews in your senior care marketing

Use remarketing and retargeting to promote your senior care reviews at the beginning, middle and end of your resident/customer's buying cycle.

1. Use PPC ads + review samples (or # of reviews) to capture families at the beginning of the research phase cycle, e.g., 5-star reviews from happy families.

2. Remarketing and retargeting to communicate with families who have recently visited your site or browsed through your review portfolio.

3. Use social proof + a customized review acquisition campaign to capture more reviews from satisfied residents whether they're sophisticated or unsophisticated.

If you're going to use the reviews in your marketing, you'll want to focus your attention on the key areas potential residents will seek out.

  • Costs and billing options
  • Amenities, services and ratings
  • Pictures of the facility

How do you get residents (and their families) to answer these questions in their reviews?

You ask the right questions.

The majority of your residents won't know what to say. Giving them questions to answer will provide them with the important cues they need to give you (and future residents) a strong review.

1. What would have prevented you from joining our community?

2. What did you find as a result of joining our community?

3. What do you like most about living at [facility]?

4. What would be three other benefits to living here?

5. Would you recommend [facility] to someone else? Why?

These questions give residents a clear track to follow. When they answer these questions, they can’t help but share a believable, credible review that defuses objections.

Share those reviews in your marketing.

What if you don't get those reviews from residents? No problem! Just reach out to the next resident that comes along. Just go with the flow. Continue taking care of the residents you serve.

Senior care reviews are more important than providers realize

The senior care industry is poised for dramatic growth. By 2030, one in five Americans will be age 65 or older.

Many more people use online reviews to choose assisted living facilities than they do to choose doctors or lawyers. A strong online review portfolio is a make-or-break proposition for assisted living facilities and senior care providers.

The vast majority of facilities, providers and caretakers, they've fallen behind.

This means facilities with a strong review portfolio and an abundance of online reviews have a significant competitive advantage.

That advantage could be yours.

Most facilities are losing business; the worst part about all of this? They don't even know it. They're facing an uphill battle, but this doesn't have to be the case for you. With a reasonable amount of effort and lots of resident handholding, you'll have the framework you need to grow beyond your biggest competitors.

About the Author

Andrew McDermott

Andrew McDermott is the co-founder of HooktoWin and the co-author of Hook: Why Websites Fail to Make Money. He shows entrepreneurs how to attract and win new customers.

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