A trustworthy reputation plays a key role in the success of in-home care agencies. But a company’s online presence can easily undermine that reputation impact its overall bottom line.
Carl White, the founder and president of MarketVisory Group Inc., discussed the topic earlier this month during the Private Duty Symposium in Naperville, Illinois. The symposium was hosted by the Illinois HomeCare & Hospice Council, LeadingAge Illinois and the Illinois Chapter of the Home Care Association of America (HCAOA).
“We are in reputation-based businesses, and our trustability is so important,” White said. “If you’ve achieved that milestone, you’re past a few years in, got the clients and are getting referrals, then a really important question becomes … does the reputation you show online match the reputation you actually have?”
In general, clients are increasingly taking the time to share their experiences with a company online. Specifically, 81% of consumers say they read customer reviews and ratings when they consider paying for a product or services, according to a Deloitte survey.
“We go online to try to check things out when we want to choose them for the first time,” White said. “Reviews figure pretty prominently. People read reviews more than they read anything else about [companies], at least at the start.”
In-home care providers aren’t immune to that reality.
Over 30% of people say they read reviews for health care businesses, and roughly 20% of people say they read reviews for home care companies, in particular, according to research from BrightLocal.
Providers should highlight positive online clients reviews in order to boost the company’s profile, according to White.
Additionally, providers should make sure each review has a name, date and star-system rating.
“People want to see a name because no one likes anonymity in reviews, [and] a date because people like fresh reviews,” White said. “Once a review reaches three months old, people start to discount its power as a review. Star ratings are universal, ‘five stars’ mean the same thing worldwide and ‘one star’ means the same thing worldwide.”
For home care providers, maintaining a good online presence could also impact the company’s recruitment efforts.
Staffing shortages have caused providers to be more diligent in recruitment methods, and a strong online presence is the equivalent of a good first impression.
Aside from staying on top of online reviews, providers should make sure that the company’s online listings are updated and error-free as well. This ensures that potential clients can find the company.
“Make sure that your company’s information is easy to find and understand,” White said. “Make sure that it is accurate and identical everywhere online. When we search for services online, we look for a few things: where are you, who are you, what do you do and what do other people say about you.”