Online Reviews Matter for Nursing Homes and ALFs
Updated: Mar 26, 2019
Your online reviews significantly influence your resident's decision of coming to your facility or your competition across town or down the block.
We are used to using reviews on Amazon when looking to make a purchase or on Yelp before reserving at a restaurant.
However, we don't think right away that people will use online reviews for placing a loved one in a nursing home or at an assisted living facility.
These decisions are life-changing and we'd expect more 'serious' research before placing a loved one in a home which may be their final home on this earth.
The truth is though, that we really trust anonymous online reviews. We will plunk down tens or even hundreds of dollars after scanning a complete stranger’s honest opinion about a product or service.
We know that they have no reason to lie. They are simply filling a civic duty by sharing their experience with others hoping to make a difference in their purchasing decision.
The Case Managers Won’t Make it Rain
Many long term care providers are under the assumption that the sole focus of all of their marketing efforts should be with the case managers of the local hospitals.
It’s for this reason, that up until recently, many companies would push the limits on giving away small gifts and offer exclusive events to them.
Most major hospitals have already come down hard on this issue and they no longer allow nursing home marketers into their facilities unless they have an official reason to
This could mean to screen a patient or to speak to a case manager about something specific.
Gone are the days when you stop by to simply ‘drop off coffee (and Patriot tickets)’. Gone are the days when you come to the CM’s office to see what’s happening and catch up.
Direct Consumer Marketing
As a result of all this, providers are starting to shift their focus to attracting their next residents by engaging directly with their potential clients.
Say hello to community marketing.
In the past, this was one additional task given to the marketing liaison to round off their marketing efforts.
With all of these changes taking place, this is evolving into one of the most important facets of effective marketing for nursing homes and ALFs.
Through directly engaging, educating and inspiring the local community, the SNF or ALF can position themselves as the professionals.
When someone needs skilled care down the road, they will likely call the place that just that event at the community center.
Yes, they will still be presented the 3 mandatory choices by the case managers in the hospital.
But they will be excited to see your brochure and will request to be placed with you.
And this is all simply because they’ve already engaged with your facility (your brand) and have a positive association with you.
The Educated Consumer
Whether you like or not, your potential clients know much more about your company, industry than you are comfortable with.
They will start with a quick Google search on their phone. They already know how to sift through and scan the results to get a full picture of what they should really be looking for.
The service providers no longer hold all the chips. Your potential residents have already formed opinions about you and your industry within seconds of that search.
Taking Control of Your Reputation
Your job is to control what they see.
Not in the old fashioned black hat method of hiding search results providing inauthentic positive ones.
That has a very limited shelf life and the educated consumer will be able to see through it pretty quickly.
Providers in the long term care industry (and other industries too) need to begin taking this seriously.
Who Leaves Online Reviews?
‘All my impossible-to-please families and residents are leaving reviews on Google.’
There is some truth to this statement. It takes a lesser to negative experience to prompt someone to leave a negative review than it takes for them to leave a positive one.
This means that for a relatively minor negative customer experience, they may blast you in a Google review and on social media. But it takes a super-duper, over-the-top life-changing experience to get the same person to leave you a positive review.
It’s just human nature.
People are quick to offer a negative review and slower to offer a positive one.
Just think about it.
When was the last time you have a negative experience in a local restaurant and you went and shared it with everyone you know?
Did you do the same thing when they replaced your main dish for a fresh one when they accidentally spilled your soda on the plate?
I didn't’ think so.
You are a fine person. That’s just the way we are wired.
You must proactively seek out your fans and followers and have the write good online reviews.
Every decent business has a list of happy clients that would be more than happy to give back by writing a few sentences about the business. They will not go and do this on their own.
You will need to explain to them why this is critical for your business and then you will need to walk them through the process.
They may not be interested in setting up a Google account and finding your listing online but you need to do whatever it takes to make it happen.
This will ensure that when a patient in the hospital is given your facility as an option for continued care, they will not be scared away by what they see online.
I’m still shocked and appalled at what some facilities have in their online reviews.
Some major national companies have facilities with reviews that say something to the effect of, ‘this place KILLED my father’. Or ‘ this place STINKS like urine’.
This is not an exaggeration.
The bottom line is that online reviews really do matter. Even and especially in long term care.
Write YES below if you agree and write NO if you don’t.