Online reviews have become a go-to source for consumers when choosing businesses to frequent or trying certain products, and it is no different in the home care industry.
Online ratings are increasingly important to the success of home care providers, and reviews should be taken seriously, Denise Graab, director of industry marketing at Caring.com, explained during a recent webinar.
“People are more likely to skip over companies if they don’t have reviews when they search for them online,” Graab said. “Businesses are getting more leads when they have more reviews, even if they are not all good reviews.”
The number of reviews a company has also correlates to its performance. Companies with more than 15 reviews perform much better than those with only one or two, she added.
There are certain websites that consumers trust more than others for reviews. Almost half of all prospects trust senior care review websites more than other sources according to Caring.com data
Nineteen percent of people trust reviews that are directly on websites, 12% trust Yelp and Google, and only 2% trust reviews on Facebook, Caring.com data found.
Gaining Ratings and Reviews
There are a number of different roads to go down to increase the number of reviews an agency receives. First, pinpointing certain people to ask for reviews is vital. For home care agencies, reaching out to cognitively healthy customers, family members or friends of customers should be a go-to source, Graab said.
Tapping into experts paid by the consumers, such as a move manager or social worker, can also be helpful.
“However, the best reviews are the ones that are completely sincere and voluntarily given,” Graab added. “You can give individuals guidance as to how to use the website to give reviews, or give them a comment card they can mail in, but don’t pressure them to say certain things.”
Reviews Are Up, Now What?
An ideal home care agency will respond to all reviews whether they are positive or negative.
“You can’t hide or ignore your online reputation,” Graab said. “You need to be vigilant to what people are saying regardless of if they are good or bad because taking the time to respond does matter.”
When an agency gets a positive review, it is best that they show gratitude and are conversational in the response.
“The worst thing a business can do is have a blanket statement for all positive reviews,” she said. “Use this opportunity to brag a little—if they compliment the food, give a little more information about the chef and his or her background.”
On the flip side, when negative reviews surface it is best to address them head-on and not allow emotions to get in the way of responding, Graab suggested.
A template response should be avoided for negative reviews as well, because it could come off as being insincere, especially when it sounds like it came from a PR person or the legal team, she added.
“Avoid approaching review sites and asking them to take down a review because even if a bad review is old, people will hopefully see that things have improved since that point,” Graab explained.
The reality is that online reviews will not go away. As more baby boomers move into retirement age, they will most likely be using the Internet to find the services they require. Getting ahead of reviews and implementing a policy on handling online feedback will pay off in the long run, she added.
Written by Alana Stramowski