Why Resident-Focused Research is Critical to Your Senior Living Community’s Success Today

Father and Son Researching Senior Living Communities

Jul 5, 2018 | Programming & Outreach

No one would argue the fact that effective lead generation and sales funnel management leading to new sales are the lifeblood of any senior living community today. Absent a continuous stream of new prospects and potential purchasers, even the most reputable and financially viable senior living communities can languish.

Yes, all the hard work that goes into nurturing the lead and getting the prospect to sign on the dotted line is vital. But completing the sale is clearly not the end of the marketing journey, especially in a relationship-driven profession such as senior living. In fact, in many important ways, it is just the beginning.

What happens after a new resident joins your community is just as important as what got them there in the first place. Why? Because your residents are your most valuable asset and they have a powerful impact on your brand’s reputation … for better or worse.

Why Resident Satisfaction Research Matters

After the sale, it is time to deliver on the promises you’ve made to your residents during the sales phase, or “courtship,” and making sure they are delighted with your product and eager to tell the world about it. This is where resident satisfaction surveying plays such a crucial role.

Says Malissa Illiano, MBA, Vice President of Market Research for SageAge Strategies. “Resident surveys and other forms of market research are an excellent way to measure how well you are meeting customers’ needs and fulfilling your promises to residents after you’ve sold them on your senior living community. Effectively developed and managed resident satisfaction surveys highlight their opinions, evaluate their experiences and provide an important source of feedback that can be used to make their lives better and their opinions of your community more positive.”

“If you are going to do resident satisfaction research – and you should – always take the survey results very seriously.  Actively address any areas of resident dissatisfaction immediately and develop remedial action plans to resolve them. Also, be sure to communicate your improvement plans to your residents and their families so that they understand that resident satisfaction is a top priority for you and an integral part of your community’s “culture of quality.”

As Performance Improvement (PI) specialists explain, senior living providers should view areas of resident dissatisfaction as welcome opportunities for improvement and a chance to strengthen your brand and your bond with your customers.

Harness the Power of Satisfied Residents

As noted in the article, “Why Senior Living Can’t Afford to Underestimate Resident Satisfaction Surveys,” resident satisfaction surveying is more than just a means of gauging your residents’ happiness with the various aspects of your service. Using your residents’ input to improve your programs and services can also be a powerful strategy for strengthening retention, increasing referrals and boosting occupancy.

Your current residents are a key component of your overall reputation because they represent a powerful marketing and communications resource. They are the living, breathing, walking, talking embodiment of your brand promise. And how they feel and what they say about you is critical to how you are perceived by everyone inside and outside the walls of your community.

Word of mouth has always been viewed as the most powerful form of advertising and, today, that fact is truer than ever due to the impact of social media. Historically, it’s been said that a person might tell 3-5 other people about a positive experience they’ve had with a product, service or an individual representing an organization. Conversely, they might tell 20 people or more about a negative experience.

With the immediacy of social media today, its sharing capabilities and the number of people who can be reached with just one email, Facebook post or tweet, the impact of word of mouth has been amplified 100-fold.  And as a result, resident satisfaction and the communication of positive experiences has never been more critical for senior living communities nationwide.

Resident-Focused Research Options

Malissa adds, “Resident satisfaction research can take various forms. The most common is the omnibus survey that addresses a variety of pertinent topics and provides a 50,000-foot view of the resident’s overall experience. Other surveys can address specific areas of resident life and provide a more detailed “drill down” into such things as food services, programs and activities, wellness options, housekeeping and communications with staff. These more detailed surveys are often conducted when the general survey identifies resident issues that require a ‘deeper dive.’

“Internal focus groups are another useful form of resident research. While resident satisfaction surveys provide a quantitative assessment of residents’ attitudes and opinions, focus groups offer a more qualitative layer of information that captures detailed descriptions and anecdotes and enables empirical resident survey findings to be fleshed out in greater detail.”

While your residents are your primary customer group, it is also important to remain closely engaged with their families. Family members can have strong opinions about their loved one’s care and living experience and can be quite vocal with their opinions in public.

Keep in mind that what your residents are telling you is not always consistent what they’re telling their family members. Sometimes individuals who feel they are in “captive” situations, e.g. long-term hospital patients, will tell you what they think you want to hear rather than being totally honest with their feedback.

In marketing research circles, this phenomenon is referred to as giving “socially acceptable” answers. As a result, some senior living communities conduct both resident and family surveys to ensure they are getting a complete picture of the attitudes about their quality.

Regardless of what form your research takes, it is important to stay in touch with your residents on a regular basis whether that is monthly, quarterly or semiannually.

Experts in Research Strategies that Strengthen Relationships, Identify Opportunities and Grow Communities

At SageAge Strategies, our professional marketing research team excels in best-practice research solutions such as resident satisfaction surveying, focus group sessions, mystery shopping, consumer survey research, market feasibility and demand analysis studies, competitive analysis, and sales and marketing assessments.

Their meticulous preparation, implementation, analysis and reporting has helped many of our client-partners to better understand their customers and their market environments to sharpen their strategies and grow their operations.

SageAge Strategies: Leaders in Growth-Focused Research Services for Senior Living

If you need assistance in any areas of market research, we invite you to contact us today to learn more.

SageAge Strategies is a multiple award-winning, strategic growth and marketing organization that operates exclusively in the senior living industry. For more information, please call or email Tom Senger at 704-619-9337 / tom@sageagestrategies.com.

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