Senior care businesses that fail to actively monitor and build their online reputation may be losing customers and/or missing an opportunity to generate more revenue without a lot of additional effort. In fact, investing just one hour (or less) per week toward online reputation management can actually lead to thousands of dollars of incremental revenue for a senior care business.
Caring.com has done the math for several of its senior care referral partners, and found in multiple case studies for both senior living communities and home care agencies that those companies’ online reviews led to a dramatic increase in prospective customer inquiries, tours, and move-ins. Taking the studies a step further, and using publicly-available industry data, Caring.com estimated the monetary value of an online review and calculated that a single review could be worth $54,254 in incremental revenue for a senior living company, and $4,231 in additional revenue for a home care agency.
The consumer reviews that led to these bottom line outcomes weren’t expensive for the senior care businesses. Instead, they simply spent some time regularly and proactively asking customers to post online reviews and responded to the feedback they received.
These aren’t isolated exceptions, and Caring.com isn’t the only one measuring the financial impact of customer satisfaction and online feedback either. Consider these other studies and facts as well:
- In 2013, consulting firm Accenture found that 51% of U.S. consumers had switched service providers within the last year due to poor customer service (up 5% from the prior year) — and 81% of those who switched said the company could have done something differently to prevent losing their business. (Many of those ‘former customers’ are also going online to share about their experiences in online reviews.)
- A customer satisfaction report from InfoQuest and Business Synergetics International noted that “totally satisfied” customers contribute significantly more revenue than “somewhat satisfied” or “somewhat dissatisfied” customers — and that “totally dissatisfied” customers actually decrease a company’s revenue.
- Home Care Pulse, which measures and benchmarks client satisfaction for home care agencies, has also validated the revenue impact of satisfied customers. Specifically, they found that in 2015, home care businesses with clients who averaged at least 14 months of service earned a median annual revenue of $2,100,000 — nearly $850,000 more than businesses with clients who stay for 1-13 months. And they reported that home care agencies with clients as one of their top referral services (via online and offline word-of-mouth) see revenue that’s 23% higher than others that don’t have this base of consumer ‘marketers’.
- TrustPilot, which collects transaction-based reviews from customers of large retailers and other companies globally, has also done case studies to measure the business impact from online reviews — finding a 53% boost in sales for one business and a 31% sales increase for another. They recommend that their clients also analyze reviews for service and product insights, including keyword analysis in the feedback.
If you’re thinking that this is interesting information but that it doesn’t apply to you because you get most of your new customers from professional referral sources, consider this: Online reviews have become so pervasive across industries — including senior care — that very few consumers nowadays don’t visit a search engine to research a local business before signing up as a customer with them (per BrightLocal research we shared on 39 for Life in December). And search engines like Google are now showing “reviews around the web” to those individuals searching by your business name.
Last month, I took a phone call from the owner of an assisted living care home who learned this lesson the hard way. She told me that she’d been getting new clients via local doctors and hospital discharge planners for nearly ten years, and had never had an issue from or even considered online reviews affecting her business. But recently, she said, she had three different prospective clients mention a negative review they’d read about her business online, and one said they were going to continue their search (“thanks, but no thanks”) based on what they’d read. She needed my help to address the feedback that was losing her business, and to understand what she could do to build her reputation online. She admitted to being embarrassed that in 2016 she wasn’t more “up to speed” about online reviews and their impact, and thankful to be getting help to address the gap in her marketing.
If you’re among those who have already embraced this new way of marketing, are you measuring the impact of your efforts yet? You can work with your reputation management agency or some of the online review websites to gather the data you need to do the calculations — or you can do some rough estimating using the published case studies for other senior care companies. If you have a math or analytics whiz on staff, you can even try the TrustPilot reviews ROI calculator online. Or you can start tracking among your prospective clients by asking if they read online reviews in researching your organization, which sites they visited, and whether or not those reviews had any influence on them calling you. If you choose this route, though, be sure you’ve done the legwork to ensure that you have a sizeable collection of great reviews about your business online and have addressed all negative reviews — in case they haven’t yet done that research and you spark their interest in doing so.
The exact value of online reviews will obviously vary by business (and some of the benefits or losses may not be immediately tangible), but on the aggregate, this type of customer word-of-mouth is making a significant difference in supporting and influencing consumers while they’re researching and considering their options. Thus, this is a great marketing opportunity for your senior care business, skilled nursing facility, or home care agency to further explore in 2017.