Caring.com and Cura Care: Partnering for Quality In-Home Care Services

Cura Care LogoWhen Frank Klan, founder of Cura Care, decided to upgrade his marketing strategies, he turned toward the Internet to search for referral sources. Stumbling onto Caring. com’s website, Klan saw a new way to help market his business. Klan is “a cautious person” and, being someone who thoroughly researches before making any big business decisions, he took the time to figure out what Caring.com was all about. After talking several times to Membership Advisors and learning what beneficial marketing strategies Caring.com offers, he decided to partner with Caring.com. Since making that decision, Klan is completely happy with it and says he is a “customer for life.”

Providing Optimal Customer Service for Directory Members

Customer service is a big part of why Frank Klan is so happy with Caring.com. With other Internet referral companies, it would sometimes take weeks to hear back from a representative. Klan says he always receives prompt replies to his questions from Caring.com, however, and he never feels like his business is not important to the representatives there. He loves the phone call interactions and the personal attention he receives. He had help designing his directory listing and says the client reviews on his listing are a huge bonus. For him, it is very important to have what clients are saying about Cura Care on his listing, but he doesn’t always have the time to reach out and get reviews. He “really likes how Caring.com calls individual clients and phone interviews them for reviews” on his listing. That’s just one more reason why Klan says he is “very happy with his experience with Caring.com.”

Tech-Savvy Tools Bring Faster Leads

In Klan’s opinion, what sets Caring.com apart from other companies — besides customer service — is technology. Before partnering with Caring.com, Klan had marketed Cura Care with other Internet referral companies. Most often, leads would take days to make their way to his desk, and, a lot of the time, those leads were not very reliable. What Klan loves about Caring.com is the way in which leads are almost instantly brought to his attention. Fast-paced technology enables him to receive alerts on his smartphone when someone wants more information on Cura Care. Klan can then reach out to that possible new client within hours instead of days. He also says they are reliable referrals of clients who are truly interested in finding out more about Cura Care.

A Yearly Membership Will Pay for Itself in the First Quarter

On the more practical business side of his partnership with Caring.com, Klan believes the ease with which membership with Caring.com is paid makes it a more convenient business decision. Paying one yearly membership fee is easier than paying monthly dues. He also feels that after having his business with Caring.com for only three months, the number of referral leads he has received has already more than paid for his membership fee. He has received eight referrals for new clients so far, and that is strictly from his Caring.com directory listing. “It is well worth the money,” he says.

A Partnership That Provides All-Around Marketing

Frank Klan is a genuine endorser of Caring.com and the Senior Care Directory because of the personal experience he has had with these services over the last few months. He has stopped all outside marketing, because everything is taken care of already with Caring.com and his listing. He sees a continued future with Caring.com and is ready to tell everyone about it – he even wants prospective members of Caring. com to call him! While just beginning to reap the benefits of partnering with Caring. com, Klan sees continued success and could not be more pleased with his decision to list with Caring.com.

About Cura Care Home Health

Cura Care Home Health is a leader in medical and nonmedical care. Staff is bonded, insured, drug tested, background checked, CPR certified, and TB tested. They assist clients with activities of daily living. Cura Care GPS- verifies that staff is on time, and the site’s online family portal. They have been a featured provider in the Caring.com customer since December 2013 and are located in Mason, Ohio.  

Caring.com and New Hope Valley: Partnering for Quality Assisted Living Services

newhopevalleyALRumi Shahzad, part owner at New Hope Valley Assisted Living Saginaw, Michigan, truly believes in the philosophy that each person’s life is a unique journey. He and the team of dedicated professionals who own New Hope Valley believe that life does not have to stop once a person has moved to an assisted living community. They want their residents to continue to live fulfilled lives. In an attempt to learn more about providing top-quality care to residents, Rumi researched and went to national trade show events. A meeting with Caring.com at a trade show and a follow-up phone call by a member of the Caring.com team later started Rumi, New Hope Valley Assisted Living, and Caring.com on a lasting partnership.

Caring.com’s Online Reviews Are the “Key Difference” Among Other Referral Agencies

There are many things about the Caring.com website and membership with Caring.com that Rumi feels are invaluable. For one, online reviews make Caring.com stand out among other referral agencies, in Rumi’s opinion. “It is the key difference,” he says. One of the main reasons Rumi has been very happy working with Caring.com is because he believes testimonials from residents and family members about their experiences with his facility help potential clients see New Hope Valley’s true character and attributes. Anyone can write a positive write-up of their own business, but to have personal evaluations from clients makes the reviews authentic.

Great, Trustworthy Marketing at a Reasonable Cost

New Hope Valley Assisted Living hasn’t had to do a lot of marketing outside of their listing with Caring.com. Rumi believes that Caring.com provides great, trustworthy marketing at a reasonable cost. With Caring.com’s one-time yearly membership fee, more money can be spent on making a better quality of life for residents than on many different marketing avenues. Other facilities spend more money on marketing with the same result as one membership with Caring.com. Rumi and his team have been able to use their money in more direct ways, such as paying for enrichment programs and a highly popular community dinner event with the families and friends of residents.

Reviews Help Inform Prospective Clients About Their Options

Caring.com’s Senior Care Directory can also be a great tool to use in discussions with potential residents and their families. Rumi likes to reference Caring.com and encourage prospective clients to go online and check out reviews of his facility as well as others. He wants people to be well informed on every decision they make for themselves and their loved ones. New Hope Valley Assisted Living’s website even has a link directing online research about assisted living to Caring.com’s website.

Caring.com Brings New Business and Creates a Reliable Feedback Loop With Customers

“I highly recommend it, with no reservation,” says Rumi. He believes his facility’s partnership with Caring.com has brought in more business and also improved the quality of life at New Hope Valley Assisted Living. He encourages anyone who is trying to decide whether to partner with Caring.com to see it not only as a place for families to leave reviews for other prospective residents but also as a tool to improve facility management and workings. He advises signing up with Caring.com, “if for no other reason than to create independent feedback so you can improve your business.” He would love to talk to anyone about his positive experience with Caring.com.

About New Hope Assisted Living
New Hope offers a wholesome assisted living alternative in a brand-new, 27,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art community spread over ten acres. Its mission is to create an energetic yet safe and comfortable environment. We honor the security, independence, and dignity of our residents. We believe that each person has his or her own panorama of rich life experiences, and a nurturing environment will celebrate the continuation of this panorama.

 

The Best Senior Living Communities in America: The Caring Stars of 2014

Best Senior Living Caring Stars MemeMore than 400 assisted living and memory care communities in 38 states — the top 1% nationwide — have been honored for service excellence in the annual Caring Stars award program. This special distinction was the first of its kind in the senior living industry, using ratings and reviews from residents, families, and senior care experts on Caring.com to identify the best communities. The program is now in its third year and was recently recognized in the 2013 National Mature Media Awards for serving the informational needs of older adults.

More than four years ago, Caring.com was among the first websites to offer senior care reviews. We saw the opportunity to use real reviews from real people to help families find the best senior living communities for their loved ones. We now know that assisted living and memory care listings with reviews get more leads: 14 TIMES more leads than listings without reviews. We also know that listings with the Caring Stars badge get more move-ins: 13.7% more move-ins than listings without the award!  

See who won this year: Caring Stars of 2014

To qualify, communities had to have met the following criteria:

  • Three or more reviews from December 1, 2012 – December 1, 2013; at least one of those reviews having with the highest rating of five stars
  • An average overall rating (across all reviews on their listing) equaling greater than 4 stars
  • No unresolved negative reviews

Caring.com reread and reexamined the validity of every review on each finalist’s listing, reconfirmed other data on each listing, and did our best to determine that the communities truly deserved this prestigious and rewarding distinction.

Some of the Ways Caring Stars Are Celebrated
Each year, Caring Stars communities are:

  • Profiled in local and business press
  • Promoted on the Caring.com website and social media
  • Discussed in senior housing referral calls with our Family Advisors
  • Given certificates for their lobbies and award badges for their websites and marketing materials
  • And more!

Among the winners featured in their local newspapers so far this year:

Some trade press also highlighted winners, including Senior Housing News and the Assisted Living Federation of America (ALFA).

Winners have been showcasing the Caring Stars honor on their social media profiles and websites, too:

With so many listings and so many reviews on Caring.com, we launched the Caring Stars program as a great way to help families narrow their choices to the best of the best and quickly find the right assisted living or memory care community for their senior loved ones. Each year since we started, the winner list has organically grown, and the excitement and positive outcomes from the award have grown as well.

Why Online Reviews Are So Valuable

Over the last few years, there have been many studies across different industries that have highlighted the importance of online reviews and the impact they’re having on consumers’ search and purchase process. Online reviews are considered “earned media” or organic publicity, and for 92% of consumers globally, this word-of-mouth information is significantly more valuable and more trusted than the marketing and advertising information presented about products and services. Online reviews are also directly impacting purchases: 80% of consumers report that they’re more likely to buy a product when they can find and read reviews about it.

In recent research Caring.com conducted, 60% of family caregivers indicated that they used the Internet in researching senior care service providers, and two-thirds took to the Web after noticing signs of memory loss in a loved one. A combined 94% of family caregivers reported that they found online reviews to be trustworthy and helpful to their search for senior care providers, and only a small minority of 6% tended not to believe this online word-of-mouth.

Online reviews provide firsthand experiential insights that are not only helpful to the family caregivers and seniors visiting Caring.com but are also being used by Caring’s family advisors during calls with adult children and seniors seeking assisted living. Family advisors read reviews from Senior Care Directory listings during calls and also mention the Caring Stars award and what it means about the quality of the winning community’s services, when they are making senior living referrals and scheduling tours matched to the caller’s needs and preferences.

Congratulations to all of the Caring Stars winners for earning high praise in reviews on Caring.com!

More information about the program, and winners from years past, can be found in the Caring Stars info center on Caring.com.

Winners: If you have questions about the marketing materials and special promotions for your award, please do get in touch with the Caring.com team. We also invite you and your staff to take a photo with your framed lobby certificate and send it to us for sharing on our social profiles.

Online Reputation Management: Tips for Senior Living Providers

WomanProComputer

Residents and their families expect senior living providers to deliver high-quality services at communities that provide excellent care for individuals going through some of the most difficult transitions life has to offer. Even if you do everything right, the families you serve aren’t always happy, and they’re increasingly sharing their viewpoints on social networks and online review sites.

Whether positive, negative, or in between, this online word-of-mouth is changing the way families search for senior living communities. Savvy senior living providers are taking an active role in monitoring and managing their online reputations. Why? Providers with reviews are getting more leads than those without reviews, as consumers actively seek out the firsthand opinions of other families before making a decision about moving their own loved one into the community.

With this in mind, last month Caring.com presented an exclusive Online Reputation Management webcast for senior living providers in collaboration with Reputation.com. Thanks to everyone who attended!

Because this topic is so important to the success of your business, we worked with Reputation.com to create a special kit you can distribute to your executive leadership and marketing teams. It includes best practices that were shared in the webcast, including a one-pager focused entirely on reviews:

We’d love to hear your feedback about the Online Reputation Management webcast and/or the kit. Please add a comment or contact Caring.com’s team.

 

Photo Credit: FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Are Your Assisted Living Services the Best in Your Area? Be a Caring Star — Get Recognized for Assisted Living Excellence!

Do your clients consistently praise the high-quality work you’re doing to care for seniors? Take steps now to be recognized among the Caring Stars of 2013!

There are thousands of assisted living reviews posted on Caring.com by family caregivers, seniors, and others concerned about assisted living care. To honor the communities who’ve received the highest ratings and help families select the right community for loved ones, Caring.com launched the “Caring Stars” program — the first of its kind in the industry — at the beginning of this year. The Caring Stars of 2012 — 120 assisted living communities across the country — were:

  • Profiled in local and business press
  • Promoted on the Caring.com website and in social media
  • Awarded badges for their websites and marketing materials

Many Caring Stars also used the distinction as a way to celebrate staff achievement and communicate with prospects and industry peers about the superiority of their offerings. As one Caring Star noted, “This honor shows us that we are doing exactly what we set out to do with each of our communities: positively impact the lives of our residents, families, and employees, every day.”

Get Reviews Now

The deadline to be considered for Caring Stars of 2013 is approaching fast — so don’t delay in asking your happy customers to post their positive feedback on your Caring.com listing ASAP.

To be considered for this distinction, your assisted living community will need:

  • 3 reviews on your Caring.com listing posted on or after Dec. 15, 2011, and before Dec. 1, 2012 — one of which must be a 5-star rating
  • An overall average rating greater than 4 stars
  • No negative reviews

These are the minimum qualifying requirements for consideration. Finalists are also analyzed and approved by Caring.com before being honored with the Caring Stars award.

As we’ve previously reported: Online reviews matter — to assisted living communities and to the families they serve. In fact, firsthand testimonials are consistently cited as one of the most important factors for families choosing an assisted living community.

“In reading reviews, your site has been very helpful. I want to know what other folks think before I sign up for a place,” said one Caring.com visitor, Joan Bullen, who sought an assisted living community for her mother. We frequently hear from family caregivers like Joan, who share about how valuable online reviews have been to their senior care search.

Need ideas for reaching out to clients, managing your online reputation, and building positive buzz about your business? Use these tips we’ve compiled for senior care providers.

To publicize the Caring Stars program to your clients – use these quick links…

Our team is also available to assist you in collecting consumer reviews and to share more information about the Caring Stars program. Please contact your Membership Advisor today to learn more about our online marketing services for providers: (866) 824-9209.

11 Tips to Improve Your Search Results Ranking

When 89% of consumers are using search engines to make purchase decisions, being found in Google search results matters. A lot.

If families look for your business by name,
does your website show up on the first page of search results?

For many providers we talk to, the answer is no. So we asked our Search Marketing team for the latest tips on how to improve your visibility in search results.

1. Forget about shortcuts.

Google’s engineers are hard at work making their algorithm ever smarter, delivering ever-more-helpful search results. (For a geeky detour, check out more about the history of Google’s algorithm rollouts, including “Panda.”)

What this means for you: making a site that works for Google doesn’t have to be a specialized art. Make sure your site is helpful for consumers by offering unique content relevant to your business, and you’ll be on the right track.

Also: our experts recommend healthy skepticism if anyone “guarantees” high search rankings or promises they know any “secrets.” Keyword stuffing, doctored tags, and other practices that worked in 2010 don’t work anymore. In fact, trying shortcuts like these will likely drive your site lower in search results.

2. Launch your website.

Most of the providers in the Caring.com Senior Directory already have a website, but some do not. For those of you who’ve been putting it off, move your website launch to the top of your to-do list. According to our team, this is the single best thing you can do to increase your visibility in search results.

Launching a website doesn’t have to be expensive. Nor does it have to be difficult: You only need a small handful of pages to start. If you can work a keyboard and mouse, you can master the tools you’ll need. Find a reputable hosting service and you’ll see how easy it can be, with their friendly website-building tools, tutorials, and customer service to help you along the way.

A note about domain names: Your domain name is an important part of your brand. Just as you build equity in a brand name, the minute you launch your site your domain name will begin building online equity, especially with search engines. Be thoughtful about choosing your domain name, and whenever possible secure one that closely matches your DBA — and avoid changing it at all costs.

3. Put contact information on every page.

Every page of your website should include your business name, address, and phone number. This sends a signal to Google — you’re showing that your website is connected to your business address. That’ll push you higher in search results.

Our experts also recommend including a call to action on every page, because you never know what page a visitor will see first. Common calls to action include, “Call us today!” or “We’ll answer any question for free” or “Come for a free tour and lunch.”

4. Create pages to meet families’ needs.

Most companies create a “Home” page, a “Contact” page, and an “About Us” page. That’s a good start — but with a few tweaks, your website can deliver even more value.

Our team suggests branching out to create three or four more landing pages about your core services.

For example, if you know families find you because of your memory care services, be sure to have a landing page that describes those services in detail. Give the page a search-friendly title, and include your location: “Memory Care in Spokane, WA.” And don’t forget to put your contact information on the page.

Not sure what landing pages to create? Ask your current customers what first led them to you. Here are some ideas to get you thinking:

  • Meal Preparation in Quakertown, PA
  • Senior Companions in Mableton, GA
  • Hygiene Assistance for Seniors in Ann Arbor, MI
  • Respite Care in Plano, TX
  • Broken Hip Rehab in Medford, OR
  • Light Housekeeping in Chesterfield, MO
  • Transportation Services in Louisville, KY
  • Errands and Shopping Assistance in Mesa, AZ

5. Beware of jargon.

We talk about this a lot at Caring.com: There are many amazing services for seniors out there, but a lot of your potential customers don’t know what the services are called. Help them (and help your business) by paying attention to the words families use when they’re looking for you.

For example, you might offer a service you call “hygiene assistance,” but do all your customers know that term? Maybe some are searching for “bathing” or “bathroom help” or “toileting” or “getting dressed.”

We’re not suggesting that you rename all of your services. But do pay attention to all the words people use when they’re looking for you, and include some of those words in the content of your site.

Note: This isn’t the same as keyword stuffing. There’s no advantage to repeating words over and over to the frustration of your users. Only include words if they naturally fit into your text.

6. Make it local.

On your landing pages, talk about the areas where you provide services. Name the counties or towns. Mention local landmarks, if appropriate (“two blocks from the Veteran’s Memorial” or “around the corner from Hillsdale Mall”). Consider including a map. This helps families know where you are and whether you’re convenient to them, and it also sends more signals to Google about the service.

7. Create original content.

Another way to signal Google that your site is valuable is to provide helpful, original content. If you’re producing paper newsletters, be sure to publish that content online, too. (For more ideas about writing content, see our blog post How to Make the Most of Internet Leads.)

8. Don’t skip the details.

Title Tags:

Make sure every page of your site has a unique title tag. This is your page’s headline, and it’s the bold title consumers will see in their search results. You have only 60 to 70 characters to catch someone’s eye. For your homepage’s title tag, we recommend including your business name, city name, and state. For all other pages, make sure your title tag is relevant to the content on that page. (If you’re not sure how to edit your title tags, check with your hosting company.)

Meta Description Tags:

Every page on your site also needs a unique meta tag of 100 to 150 characters. Your goal is to entice someone to click. What benefit will they receive when they visit the page? What problem will you help them solve? (Again, for help editing your meta tags, check with your hosting company.)

Example:

Memory Care in Spokane, WA | ABC Assisted Living | (800) 555-1212
Get help caring for your loved one with memory loss. We offer in-home care services, adult day programs, and residential options. Certified memory care practitioners. Free consultation.

(For more about SEO optimization, we recommend the Beginner’s Guide to SEO from SEOmoz.org.)

9. Claim your listing in the Caring.com Senior Directory.

So far, we’ve been talking about how to get your own website to show up on that first page of search results. Google’s algorithm also gives priority to well-established sites with lots of backlinks and social mentions. This means that Caring.com has a good chance of showing up for searches relevant to your business. Claiming your listing on Caring.com offers a way to double your exposure and get your business to show up twice on that first page of search results.

Your basic listing in the Caring.com Senior Directory is complimentary. (A one-time set-up fee may apply.) Odds are good we’ve already got you listed — we have more than 25,000 businesses so far and we’re growing every day.

To help your Caring.com directory listing move higher in Google search results, give us a call. We’ll recommend two key updates to your listing:

  • Photos. As a provider, you can post a photo on your free basic listing. (Enhanced Listings can include up to eight photos.)
  • Custom descriptions. Write a custom description of your services for your Caring.com listing. (Don’t reuse the same content you’re using on your own website — that hurts both your website and your Caring.com listing.)

You can make these changes at any time. Just call your Caring Advisor at (866) 824-9209.

It’s also a good idea to claim your business listing in other online directories, especially Google Places. To learn more about claiming listings everywhere, visit GetListed.org.

10. Get reviews.

Google’s algorithm rewards reviews. It’s one more signal that your website and your directory listing are connected to your business and that real people find you helpful. We make it easy to collect reviews from your customers at Caring.com: Find out more about getting reviews now.

11. Monitor your progress.

At least once a month, search for your business name and city. Once you’ve done everything described here, you’re likely to see your own website (and your Caring.com listing) rise to the first page of results. Ask families how they’re finding you, and see if you’re starting to get more Internet leads. Make these metrics part of your monthly management meeting.

Want to dig deeper? Learn more about how to improve your search ranking.

Ready to make updates to your basic listing?

Contact your Membership Advisor today at (866) 824-9209.

 

Kate Antheil Boyd is VP of Content at Caring.com, the web’s #1 source for senior care reviews. We help families find information, support, and local services to help with their caregiving journey. We also help senior service providers connect with the families who need them.

Best Practices for Nurturing Internet Leads

Send nurture e-mails that are helpful and deliver real valueMore and more families are finding Assisted Living, In-Home care, and other senior services through the Internet. To help you make the most of your Internet leads, we’ve compiled some best practices:

Let families know you received their request.

Set up an auto-response e-mail confirmation to go out the instant you get a lead. Your message can be short — just “Thank you” and “We’ll be in touch” — but it needs to be immediate so the caregiver knows her request has been received.

Be sensitive to communication mode.

A lot of factors might affect a customer’s choice to submit an online lead form instead of picking up the phone to call you. For some, it’s just a matter of convenience — they’re not near a phone or are too busy to talk in depth.

For others, though, the online form offers a discreet way to reach out. Perhaps they’re researching while they’re at work. Or perhaps they don’t want their loved one to overhear the phone call.

To be safe, be sensitive when you reach out to the customer. Ask if it’s a convenient time to talk, and if it’s not, schedule a better time. And if the customer writes a note in her care request that specifically asks you to respond by e-mail only, respect that request.

Answer their questions — fast.

Make sure to send a thoughtful response to each lead or care request as quickly as you can — within the same day if at all possible. We’re not kidding about this. We’ve talked to several major partners who’ve done formal studies of their online leads, and they all say that there’s a major drop-off if you even wait one extra day to call. (One partner reports a 7X lift in connect rate for calls returned on Day One versus Day Two.)

In addition to that phone call, we recommend that you write a detailed follow-up e-mail to each care request. Personalize this e-mail and refer back to the information you’ve learned about them so far from their care request notes or from your phone conversation.

Did the customer tell you she has an 89-year-old father? Let her know how many of your clients are that age. Did your customer’s mother break her hip? Write a sentence or two about your amazing physical therapy program. To save time, draft a set of standard answers to the most common questions. Topics frequently mentioned in care requests on Caring.com include:

  • Rates
  • Availability
  • Medicare/Medicaid
  • Pets
  • Couples Living Together
  • Dressing, Bathing, Toileting, Personal Care
  • Walkers, Canes
  • Options, Amenities
  • Security
  • Independence
  • Dementia/Alzheimer’s
  • Stroke
  • COPD
  • Broken Hip

This first e-mail should also tell the customer what the next steps are. Help set expectations and move him or her forward in the decision-making process. You might say, “Call me to schedule a tour” or “Please come to our community picnic this weekend” or “I’ll be calling you tomorrow to schedule a time to talk more about your mother’s needs and our availability.”

Prioritize.

In these initial communications with families, try to determine which ones are closest to making a decision. These are the families you’ll want to keep at the top of your priority list. Some will tell you their timing; other factors for you to watch for are:

  • Loved one is dealing with memory problems (if you provide memory care)
  • Loved one is taking large number of prescribed medications and/or requires help managing medications
  • Family is caring for loved one 10+ hours per week
  • Loved one has experienced a recent accident or incident

Check in.

Our partners at one major assisted living chain tell us they send a follow-up e-mail after one week. They send another one after three weeks. When you check in with your customers, revisit the topics you covered in your first e-mail and ask again, directly: Can you schedule a time to talk further? Would they like to take a tour? What other questions do they have?

Nurture.

If the lead hasn’t blossomed into a relationship from the first phone call and the first few e-mail messages, it’s time for your e-mail nurture campaign.

When to send: Send e-mails to prospective clients every 2 to 4 weeks.

How to send: If your business is small, you might manage your nurture campaign from your regular e-mail client — Outlook, Gmail, etc. As your list grows, you’ll want a tool to make sending e-mails easier. Tools such as Constant Contact, VerticalResponse, iContact, and others can help you manage your contacts, create e-mails, send and deliver e-mails, and monitor responses. Do some research to find out what option is best for you. (Many offer free trial periods.)

What to send: The best way to build a relationship is to deliver value. Make sure your message is useful and provides an immediate benefit to the family reading it. Good messages also convey the warmth and personality of your organization.

Here are a few of our favorite blog posts about effective writing for e-mail messages:
HubSpot | copyblogger | MarketingProfs

If you’re still not sure what to write, here are some links that might spark ideas:

  • Check out Caring.com to see resources families love. You can’t reprint our content without permission, but you can link to us. (Let us know if you’d like more guidance about linking to us.)
  • Set up a Google alert for keywords like “Alzheimer’s” or “elder care” — you’ll be notified whenever something new gets published. If you see something you think will interest your families, write a few sentences about it and provide a link.
  • The “New Old Age” blog in the New York Times has great articles. Again, if you see something you like, you can write a couple of sentences about it and share the link.
  • Keep an eye on your local news — is there anything happening near you that you can talk about? Are there special events for seniors in your town? If there’s a snowstorm, can you give tips for navigating snow in a wheelchair? Always be on the lookout for opportunities to share your expertise.

Not getting enough Internet leads?

Next to your own website, the best way to help families find you online is to set up your Enhanced Listing on Caring.com. To get your Enhanced Listing and begin receiving care requests, call your Caring Advisor at (866) 824-9209.

If you opt to buy leads from other vendors, make sure to do your homework. Know how they’re generating their leads: Search Engine Marketing? Online banners? Know what they’re doing with those leads — are they giving them to only a few providers, or to dozens? All this information can help you modulate your marketing efforts (and judge the quality of the leads you get).

Your to-do list:

  • Set up your auto-response confirmation for all Internet leads you receive
  • Schedule time each day (or several times a day) for follow-up phone calls and e-mails in response to incoming Internet leads
  • Schedule time each day for follow-up e-mails to families at the top of your priority list
  • Draft template responses for the most common topics in the inquiries you receive
  • Determine whether you need an e-mail campaign management tool, and select a vendor
  • Develop content for your nurture campaign
  • Make sure you’re getting enough Internet leads: Sign up to get automated care requests from Caring.com

Reach your Caring Advisor today at (866) 824-9209.

 

Kate Antheil Boyd is Former VP of Content at Caring.com, the web’s #1 source for senior care reviews. We help families find information, support, and local services to help with their caregiving journey. We also help senior service providers connect with the families who need them.

 

Why Online Reviews Are Good for Senior Care

Help Others: Write a review and let us know how we're doingLet’s be frank: We’re not talking about restaurants here. We’re not talking about dry cleaners, or beauty salons, or any other service where all a customer might say is that he didn’t like the appetizer.

This is the senior care industry. Families trust you to take care of their loved one’s every need. Lives are in your hands. It’s also an industry that serves families when they’re going through some of the most difficult transitions life has to offer. Even if you do everything right, the families you serve aren’t always happy.

So do online ratings and reviews even have a place in senior services?

Absolutely. Our research shows that ratings and reviews provide families with tremendous value and play a strong role in affecting a caregiver’s selection of care. Ratings and reviews might even be more important to senior care services than to other industries.

Here’s why:

Families like reviews.

Choosing senior care for a loved one is challenging. Yes, families want to choose an excellent service services provider — they also want peace of mind. They want to know that they’ve made the best possible decision for their loved one. The more information they have, the better.

These days, reviews are a key source of information about products and services. 83% of consumers say that reviews influence purchasing decisions. And people trust reviews. Even if they’re posted by strangers, reviews are trusted even more than TV, radio, newspaper, or magazine ads. The only thing consumers trust more is personal advice from a friend.

Reviews help families narrow their choices (and save time).

We know time matters a lot for many caregiving families. Some families have to make decisions quickly because their loved one’s needs are progressing rapidly. Other families are trying to make decisions from a distance. For these families, anything that increases efficiency in the search for senior services is a welcome help.

Reviews can help busy caregivers right from the start. Research says that 38% of consumers look for reviews when they start looking for new products and services. Reviews help families figure out which providers to call, what to look for, and what to questions to ask.

Reviews convey unvarnished information.

We know how hard you work to describe what makes your business special. You’ve sweated over every word of your marketing copy, polished your descriptions, and chosen your photos so that you can give families the best impression of your staff and services.

But no matter how wonderful your website’s copy, reviews bring something different. They aren’t always pretty — they may have typos or grammatical errors, they may use ALL CAPS, or jump around from topic to topic. They may even mention a few things you’d rather they didn’t. But reviews are often heartfelt, convey emotion, and contain stories with little details that bring your business to life.

Here are a few examples of great stories from reviews:

“We were pleasantly surprised at the loving care given to our elderly father as he was dying. The staff was kind, went about the physical care aspect without negative comments and one of the staff made this comment, “It is a privelage to care for your father.” Our mother is there, also, and she is clean and happy when we go to see her. We are very pleased with our overall experience.”
- West Village Care Center, Independence, IA

“Hate to say it, but I needed a last minute “sitter” for my dad. I called Lido Senior Care and they were able to come in one weekend and be with my father. The caregiver they sent over was a nice young man who kept my dad entertained with conversation, puzzles and even took him for a walk around our complex. I definitely keep Lido in my phone book and use them regularly.”
- Lido Senior Care, Rancho Santa Margarita, CA

“This assisted living facility is clean and nice. My grandfather lives there now. He says it is well kept and the faculty is nice and patient with the residents. He says the food is not superb and they are meager rations. Overall, he is enjoying it and has made some new friends in his experiences there.”
- The Brunswick at Attleboro, Langhorne, PA

Reviews build trust.

It’s probably no surprise that good reviews help people trust a brand. (Research shows that 55% of U.S. consumers trust a local business after reading positive online reviews.)

Negative reviews can help build trust, too. Consider:

  • According to The Economist, John McAteer of shopping.google.com says “a small proportion of negative comments — just enough to acknowledge that the product couldn’t be perfect — can actually make an item more attractive to prospective buyers.”
  • TrendWatching.com has coined a new term for businesses in this modern era: flawsome. These are brands that are ” . . . still brilliant despite having flaws; even being flawed (and being open about it) can be awesome. Brands that show some empathy, generosity, humility, flexibility, maturity, humor, and (dare we say it) some character and humanity.”

Still not sure about negative reviews?

“When someone has something bad to say about your business, they’re going to find a way to say it,” says Denise Graab, Director of Social Community for Caring.com. “If they complain to friends out of your earshot, you’re entirely left out of the conversation. But if they say it in an online review, you have an opportunity to reflect on the feedback and respond as necessary.”

Graab recommends keeping a close watch on what’s being said about your brand. If something negative comes up, don’t always try to get it taken down, and don’t ignore it. When necessary — such as in the case of a factual error, or when you can politely and professionally convey your commitment to quality service — participate in the conversation.

On Caring.com, providers may post a response after any consumer review. You can see great examples of how an effective provider response demonstrates customer service here and here. For more ideas about handling negative reviews, check out Strella’s blog post. (For more information about contesting a review based on a factual error or violation of our Review Guidelines, or for information about posting a provider response, call your Membership Advisor at (866) 824-9209.)

Reviews help families finalize their decisions.

Even after they meet with you or visit your community, you can expect that some families will look for reviews online. They’re seeking confirmation (or contradiction) of the opinions they’ve formed.

  • 27% of consumers look for reviews when they’re trying to decide between two or three products or services.
Again, this is about peace of mind. Families want to know they’ve done their homework and be sure they’ve learned all they can about the senior services they’re choosing.

Reviews help make services better.

Families aren’t the only ones who can gain important knowledge from reviews — you can, too. In reviews, families are telling you exactly what’s important. By paying attention to this feedback, you can make your services better:

Reviews can also help you understand your position in the marketplace. What can you do better than your competitors? How can you describe what makes you different?

As we read in a recent New York Times article about reviews, no one of us is as smart as all of us. Reviews represent “collected knowledge” that can help families — and your business, too.

Not seeing any reviews for your business?

Get your free* basic listing in the Caring.com Senior Directory, the leading source of senior services reviews online.
*All directory requests will be reviewed and confirmed.  A one-time set-up fee may apply. 

For ideas on how to reach out to the families you serve, check out our video, Essential Tips for Getting Reviews on Caring.com.

Remember: You, the provider, can’t write a review of your own business.
(See Review Guidelines for more information.)

Kate Antheil Boyd is Former VP of Content at Caring.com, the web’s #1 source for senior care reviews. We help families find information, support, and local services to help with their caregiving journey. We also help senior service providers connect with the families who need them.

Reaching Caregivers via Social Media

Consider this: There are now more people on social networks than there were Internet users in December 2006.* Social network users aren’t just kids, either.

  • Nearly 40 million Americans over the age of 50 are now using Facebook.
  • 41% of family caregivers indicated that they turn to online support resources – more than church, therapists, or in-person support groups.**
  • Half of family caregivers have searched online for in-home care or assisted-living services.**

Are families finding you?

Here are 3 social marketing tips from our Director of Social Community, Denise Graab:

 

  • Start sharing, listen, and respond. Focus your efforts on one or two social networks, and develop a professional profile on each. Commit to look at activity on your profiles for 5-10 minutes daily, and post on your profile(s) at least once per week. When you share valuable information with your social fans and followers — providing information that puts their needs and interests first and foremost — they’re more likely to respond with “likes,” comments, clicks, and by spreading the information to their friends. This, in turn, extends your reach to more people. Be responsive and thankful for the feedback you receive — return the likes, answer questions, and provide customer service contact information in a timely manner.

 

  • Cultivate testimonials and reviews. If the families you serve love you, ask them to share their opinions in an online review. Reviews and testimonials from your real clients help establish your online reputation. And having reviews can help generate up to 2X more inquiries from families searching online.

Need more guidance? 

Denise shared the presentation, “Reaching Caregivers via Social Media” in a Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) Caregiving Coalition conference call coordinated by the National Alliance for Caregiving. Download a copy of her presentation here:

Reaching Caregivers via Social Media

If you have any questions about your listing or are looking for ideas to increase your visibility on Caring.com, please call your Memership Advisor at (866) 824-9209.

 

* There were 334 million home Internet users in 2006. Today, there are more than 845 million Facebook users.
** Caring.com research

 

5 Tips to Transform Phone Calls Into Customers

What should you say when someone calls to ask about your services?

How you and your staff can use phone lead nurturing to turn phone inquiries into paying customers.

1. Respect the Customer’s Preferred Contact Method

Our research shows that about 20% of people searching the Internet for senior services don’t want providers to call them. Instead, these customers request information using online forms (and they don’t provide their phone numbers).

We also know that 20% of Internet searchers won’t ask for information online or by e-mail — they will only call.

Take that first contact as a hint. If she calls you, you call back. If she e-mails you, respond by e-mail.

Respecting the customer’s preferred communication helps to build trust. You’re providing her the information in a way that’s most convenient to her — which makes her research and decision-making process easier and faster.

2. Be Certain Your Team Is Answering Phones Well.

We see complaints about poor phone service in consumers’ negative reviews on Caring.com. Here are a few excerpts from some one- and two-star reviews posted on our site right now:

” . . . customer service is seriously lacking. On hold for a while and then passed back and forth until I finally hung up and called another Home Care Agency.”

 

“The director could use a refresher course in training workers to act professional and have insight as to what is going on in his facility. Maybe he should make a call to the center incognito and ask for information about the services provided and see if he can get an answer. I couldn’t even get the address to the web site. “

 

 ” . . . good luck trying to reach your loved one by phone; you’ll get a recording or a fax machine to answer your call. I’ve called Karen 11 times and she’s never returned my phone calls.”

We hope this customer feedback is enough to convince you: Answering the phone well can be hugely important to the success of your business. Give your team clear guidance about how you’d like the phones answered.

You may not need to develop a formal script, but you can gather your marketing staff together to talk about what’s most important to the business. What do you want to learn about the caller? What do you want the caller to learn about your business? Ask your team members how they’re answering phones now, and what works — then encourage everyone else on the team to follow those practices.

By routinely brushing up on your team’s phone answering skills, you’ll be able to ensure that you’re making the best possible first impression on potential customers.

3. Turn Message Taking Into Sales Generation.

You’ve trained your marketing team — but what about after-hours calls, when you and your marketing team aren’t available? Even if they don’t usually work with new inquiries, everyone who answers your company’s phone should know these basics:

When transferring calls:

  • In case we get disconnected, can I have your name, phone number, and e-mail?

When taking messages:

  • What’s your name?
  • What type of service are you interested in?
  • What’s your timing — when are you looking to move in (or hire a service)?
  • What’s the best way to reach you? (Even if a customer prefers to be called, get his or her e-mail address if you can; more about that later.)
  • When’s a good time for us to call you back?

And here’s the one thing your team should avoid: Never ask the customer to call you back.

4. How Much Time Do You Have to Return Calls?

A major national chain (and Caring.com partner) conducted a study of its inbound phone inquiries. They found that if they called the customers back within 24 hours, they were 40 times more likely to connect with the customer than if they waited until the second day.

When customers are searching online, they expect to connect with you immediately. Especially if they’re picking up the phone — they want help now. If you don’t return that call quickly enough, your potential customer may forget about you.

Worse yet, if you wait too long, by the time you reach her she may have already talked to your competitors. Or, if you’re too slow, she may already be talking to a lead service that’ll charge you a huge referral bounty.

Our recommendation: Return all calls within 24 hours, minimum. Ideally, return calls within an hour or two.

5. Don’t Badger! Instead: Nurture.

This is a tough one. You want to convince the customer to work with you, but he’s not calling you back. What do you do?

Stop calling.

As you know, choosing senior care services is often a long process. Sometimes customers start their research months before they actually need services. If they’re not calling you back after two or three messages, chances are they’re not ready to talk further at this time. But that doesn’t mean they won’t choose your services down the road.

Remember how we suggested that you ask your customers for an e-mail address?  This is why.  That e-mail address gives you a chance to keep in touch with your customers in a gentle way — a “nurture campaign.”

Send messages every month or so — not too often.  Make sure every e-mail provides value for your customer. Include tips and suggestions to help with caregiving. You can invite caregivers and loved ones to have a free lunch and tour, or to help celebrate a special event in your community. If you have a special offer or discount, include that information, too.

(For more ideas about what to include in your e-mails, or tools to help you manage your nurture campaign, keep an eye on this blog — more coming soon.)

Need More Calls?

If you’re not getting as many phone calls as you’d like, we can help. Call (866) 824-9209 today to speak with a Membership Advisor for ideas to increase your visibility on Caring.com.

 

Kate Antheil Boyd is VP of Content at Caring.com, the web’s #1 source for senior care reviews.  We help families find information, support, and local services to help with their caregiving journey.  We also help senior service providers connect with the families who need them.