3 Senior Living Reputation Management Tips

It finally happened. An anonymous negative review online or on social media seemingly appears out of nowhere to cast doubt into the hearts and minds of potential residents. One star – how did this happen? Despite your staffs’ best efforts to provide exceptional and consistent experiences for your residents, someone, somewhere feels differently. What now?

Well first, don’t have a panic attack. Negative reviews HAPPEN, but I can’t stress enough how important reviews are to potential residents and the adult child influencer (ACI). In fact, 92% of customers read reviews online, and 68% of customers trust local businesses more if they have positive reviews. In addition to that, the difference in revenue between star ratings online is striking. Studies from LSA and Yext – two industry leaders and authorities in local SEO – show that for every star a business earns, it equates to a 5-9% increase in revenue.

That said, I hate being the bearer of bad news (not reviews), but if your community hasn’t encountered a negative review yet, it will. This doesn’t have to spell doom and gloom. But it’s a reality your community should be prepared to face when negative reviews crop up.

The fact of the matter is: Unless your community has a third-party partner actively managing your community’s reputation online (we’ll get to why that may be necessary later) – your team will have to effectively shoulder the burden of handling negative marks against your community with grace and efficiency.

If your senior living community is responsible for managing its reputation internally, take heed to these tips to generate positive reviews online. It’s a jungle out there, but these 3 tips should provide a framework to prepare your team for the dreaded event when a review turns sour.

Tip #1: Don’t put the cart before the horse – Monitor Reviews before Managing them

Ask yourself: how often have you scoured Google to see what people are saying about your community in the past month? This almost sounds intuitive, but you can’t begin addressing a negative review unless you’re aware it exists in the first place.

If you can’t remember the last time your team checked reviews online, then add review monitoring into your senior living community’s reputation management strategy. Monitoring the online word of mouth your community receives will allow your team the ability to respond in real time when concerns are raised about your community.

To handle this with optimal efficiency, have a team member dedicated to monitoring your community’s reviews online regularly. Sometimes people just want to feel like they’re being heard, and if you, your team, third-party or automated solution is responsive in real time, the individual may even pull their review due to the superior customer service you’re providing.

Monitoring reviews regularly will help your team be proactive when a negative review appears. Which brings us to the next tip for online reputation management – having a response strategy in place.

Tip #2: Don’t Improvise – Have a Response Strategy in Place

At this point, your community has resources dedicated to monitoring online reviews regularly. So, how do you go about actually responding to a negative review when the time comes? Since no two negative reviews will be the same (unless there’s a clear issue), responses themselves can vary wildly.

To save your community time, headaches, and the stress of crafting the next great American novel to convince an angry resident or ACI your community cares – have response guidelines set in place. This will provide your community a framework to work within. Just as your staff strives to provide a consistent experience for residents, a consistent response strategy for negative reviews will go a long way toward building a positive perception of your community online.

This requires open communication and close integration between staff members at your various communities to ensure they’re aligned. No silos allowed here. Clearly define the parameters your dedicated staff needs to stay within when responding to a negative review. Outline what can be said, what can’t, and how your staff is allowed to approach a “make good” situation when the time comes. This senior living reputation management tip can become time consuming if your community has multiple locations and a decent number of negative reviews to sift through. If your community feels as if it has too much work, and too little time to respond to negative reviews even with a response strategy, consider partnering with an agency that specializes in and has demonstrated reputation management experience.

If the sentence above doesn’t describe your community at all, or if it does and your community simply wants more reviews, then encourage people to provide them!

Tip #3: Don’t Beg – Ways to Encourage New Reviews

In this instance, there isn’t one way to reach the gold. You or your team will have to try different tactics to find out what works best for soliciting reviews. To get started, we’ve outlined several tips to generate positive reviews online for your community.

  1. Just ask! – This tactic is as intuitive as it gets, but hear us out. You would be surprised at the number of communities that don’t take the initiative to go outside of their comfort zone by asking the simple request for someone to leave a comment or two online. Start by asking the residents that you know are your strongest advocates. Your community’s biggest fans can act as the testimonial that makes the difference between a resident choosing your community over another. Make sure your staff asks for reviews frequently, and capitalizes on asking for reviews after a strong rapport is built with a potential resident.
  2. Leave a sign in a prominent place in your community encouraging reviews on Google, etc.McKnight’s is quick to play devil’s advocate with the fact that leaving a sign encouraging reviews could backfire for a community by reminding a disgruntled resident or ACI to leave a review. But that’s a risk your community will have to take to build out the stable of positive reviews online. While this tactic isn’t the most innovative, it will help remind visitors in the off-chance that a staff member forgets to ask for a review.
  3. Automated email – Let’s face it – your staff is busy and may forget to ask a resident to leave a review, even when a golden opportunity presents itself. Human error is real. And what happens when people see the sign to leave a review but forget by the time they get home? Email automation will enable your community to stay top of mind when other tactics fail or slip through the cracks.

Once your community has successfully solicited several reviews, it might feel like your work is done. But this isn’t simply a “set it and forget it” task for your community. Continuously use the tactics that have proven successful for your community, so negative reviews don’t ruin your overall star average and sink your reputation online. When multiple five-star reviews are amassed, your community can even have fun marketing collateral created for free. Not a bad incentive for continuously striving for excellence, is it?

Start Generating Positive Reviews and Improve Your Reputation Today!

Of course, should your community struggle with obtaining positive reviews, or is bogged down by multiple negative reviews creating reputation issues, contact us. We’ll be happy to talk and provide our know-how to help.

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