Unhappy clients are an inevitable part of any business, but they can be especially damaging in home care as the industry continues to grapple with the twofold task of retaining both clientele and the caregivers that serve them. There is, however, a low cost way providers can tackle this double-edged dilemma without having to spend a great deal to grow their agencies.
It all starts with customer service and creating a culture of caring at one’s organization, said Chris Marcum, director of marketing at Home Care Pulse, during a webinar last week.
“Good customer service is one of your best marketing activities,” Marcum said. “What it comes down to is creating a culture of care in your businesses to where your employees care about those they’re providing services to—that’s really the goal.”
How home care agencies convey their culture throughout the organization—from staff to clients—becomes especially important considering about 85% of home care recipients report they chose their provider based on the company’s reputation and someone’s recommendation, according to data collected by Home Care Pulse.
As a satisfaction management company, Home Care Pulse performs interviews with a portion of the clients served by its home care agency clientele. The resulting responses are then used in compiling Home Care Pulses’ Best of Home Care Awards, which is broken down into two award categories: Employer of Choice and Provider of Choice.
About 89% of home care providers who win Home Care Pulse’s Employer of Choice award also win the Provider of Choice recognition.
“This shows that if your employees are happy, you’re going to have happy clients as well. And they are really one of your best assets,” said Marcum.
There are myriad ways to enhance customer service practices and boost employee satisfactions levels that can aid in strengthening staff retention, which recent reports have noted hovers around a 40-65% turnover rate each year.
Some of the top ways home care workers want to be recognized are through vacation time, bonuses, perks or gifts (29.6%); verbal recognition from a supervisor (28.5%); pay raise (26.9%); recognition by clients (8.6%) and company-wide recognition (6.3%), according to survey data Home Care Pulse gleaned from its satisfaction interviews with home care agencies and their clients.
“Caregivers don’t necessarily want more money to be happy,” said Marcum.
Rather, nearly half (43.4%) of caregivers just want some form of recognition, whether that is from a supervisor, client or from the entire organization. And this theme of greater recognition ultimately trickles down to the clients a home care agency serves.
“The customer-centered theme is focused on doing what’s best for the customer,” Marcum said. “You have to empower your team by giving them the training they need so they can interact with your clients and better represent you.”
Becoming more engaged in caregivers’ processes is one way to show that upper management cares for the clients served by the company. This could mean accompanying caregivers on home visits once in a while, not to supervise, but just to forge or maintain a personal relationship with clients, Marcum said.
Asking for impromptu updates from caregivers regarding the well-being of their clients can also help an agency convey its culture onto staff, whether that means asking about clients by name or inviting caregivers to learn something unique from a client and having them share the story with the rest of the team in an update meeting.
“As you do this, it not only gives you the opportunity to show the client that you care, but your employee also has an opportunity to show they care and develop that relationship,” Marcum said.
Written by Jason Oliva