I call 15 to 20 nursing or assisted living facilities each week on legitimate (they are existing customers I support, who want and need to hear from me) business. I may be getting old and cranky, but lately my experiences seem to have gotten dramatically worse.
So, you run a nice facility. The building looks great; staff turnover is acceptable, occupancy could, of course, be better. You walk around, keep your office door open and review marketing plans. When was the last time you called your own facility, as if it was not you? Here is a little scorecard:
- Busy signal? Big no-no. Make sure you have enough lines coming in.
- Terminal ring? Have backup(s) to the primary receptionist.
- If I am put on hold, take care of me: don’t forget me and, for heaven’s sake, don’t lose me.
- Speaking of “on hold”, what is your facility’s hold message/music? A nice message about your facility can’t be THAT expensive, but at the very least make sure that it is nice, clear and at a reasonable sound level. If it is a local radio station make sure the music fits your audience (rap is probably not a good idea). Make sure it is really tuned in and just a bunch of static.
- Phone tree Hell: In the 1990s, when senior HMOs were getting started, one of their less-than-honest tactics was to tout satisfaction levels of their members. An investigation revealed that they deliberately made their phone trees so complicated that many seniors just gave up. Ideally every call should be answered by a live person. A quick message to dial an extension, followed by an automatic transfer to a live person should be the minimum.
- Can I understand you? There are probably lots of great people working in your facility for whom English is their second language (English is my one and only), but are they really the best people to be answering your main phone lines? Callers should not have to ask if they have reached the correct facility. (Remember Lily Tomlin’s Ernestine? “Have I reached the party to whom I’m speaking?”)
- “He’s not here.” Only surpassed by, “I don’t know when he’ll be in. We never know.” I have heard that more often than I can count, and not about some floating regional person, but about the administrator.
- “Good morning. Welcome to Happy Acres Assisted Living. My name is Naomi. How can I help you and make sure that you have an exceptional day in our exceptional environment...” By that time, I’m gone. I have things to do. Greet me. I’ll tell you what I need.
- Your receptionist isn’t the only person who needs good phone etiquette. Recently I received a frantic call from a customer. She needed computer help NOW. I asked if she was on the system. She replied, “Huh?” “Are you on your computer?” “No,” she said, “I’m outside grabbing a smoke.” And remember, she called me.
- And, for the bonus round: if your staff have company email addresses they should know what they are and be able to provide them for legitimate purposes. “I think I have one, but I can’t remember it. Can I give you my hotmail?” is not what you want your second tier management staff saying, but I hear it ALL THE TIME.
Just remember that most prospects will call your facility before they every drive up to see the nice building or meet the happy residents and staff. - An Anonymous Reader.
What would you add to this list? Do you have any tips on how to make this better?
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