Care homes play a crucial role in helping those that require extra support in their day to day. From personal care to providing accommodation, their mission is to ensure the mental and physical well-being of their residents. Today, there are around 430,000 UK citizens currently residing in care homes.
Reputation is indeed crucial for any company, but for those in this sector, an image can make or break the business. After all, it takes immense trust to put a loved one in a care home and be cared for by a stranger, and it needs an unshakable reputation to gain that credibility. When this is achieved, it can lead to incredible benefits, such as attracting new patients and generating more revenue.
When it comes to building a positive online reputation, there is nothing more powerful than word-of-mouth recommendations and client testimonials, especially in the context of caring for people. However, on the flip side, negative online feedback can quickly shatter the image of a care home since it concerns people and their well-being.
Maintaining a positive image can be difficult and demands ongoing effort, but it is certainly achievable and valuable in the long term. Let’s explore the steps to building a positive image and the best practices to consider for managing your online reputation.
Steps to Building and Maintaining a Positive Image
Build Trust Through Transparency
The first step to building and maintaining a positive image is to establish trust with potential patients and their loved ones. How is that done? Simple, through transparency and communication.
Being fully honest about your offering and service will ensure your residents’ expectations are met. In today’s competitive landscape, companies with transparency issues risk disappointing their customers due to unrealistic promises. To attract sales, they make extravagant claims, using extreme marketing language to lure consumers in. Unsurprisingly, once these leads have turned into customers, the business can’t meet all the points it was initially advertising. This short-sighted strategy leads to an untrustworthy image and an overall negative reputation.
On the other hand, if a business is entirely transparent with its customers and staff, it will always meet and even exceed expectations, leading to increased loyalty and retention.
Communication Is Key to Transparency
To achieve this, you have to communicate. Constant communication is one of the cornerstones of transparency as you are keeping your potential and existing residents informed about everything to do with your care home.
For residential homes, patients should know what to expect on a daily basis, such as food served, personal care and hygiene, social activities, change of staff and more. The same goes for the patient’s family. They should be kept up to date with the service offered and everything that happens in the care home. After all, if a senior individual is dissatisfied with what they are receiving, they will likely vent to their family, who may in turn write a negative online review.
Negative reviews show how damaging this feedback can be. Reviewers talk about their parents not being washed in over a week, not having their nails cut since arriving at the residence, being left on the floor for hours after falling and feeling depressed and lonely due to the lack of socialization and frigid care from the staff. These types of testimonials can ruin the reputation of a care home, and honestly who would want to put their family member through such horrific experiences?
To prevent situations similar to these from happening, it’s vital to be fully transparent with patients, their families and even staff. Not only once they have become a resident or been employed, but before that to ensure realistic expectations have been created.
Resolve Complaints and Effectively Deal With Negative Feedback
The second way of maintaining a positive reputation is by effectively dealing with unhappy customers.
Firstly, you have to become an expert in resolving complaints and offering fast customer service. You want your residents and their families satisfied with your offering, right? So, make sure to focus on their happiness and well-being 24/7 by resolving all their issues and complaints. If you haven’t already, prioritize customer service and resident satisfaction to prevent your reputation from falling behind.
Similarly, negative reviews can also be addressed. Did you know that 30% of consumers reverse negative reviews once their concern has been solved? There are several factors to consider when responding to a negative comment. First of all, put yourself in their shoes. Compassion and empathy are always the best options when helping someone who has had a bad experience with you. At the end of the day, the customer is always right, and understanding their point of view can not only help solve the issue but prevent it in the future as well.
Another crucial thing to do is to offer a solution. If the complaint is public, move the conversation somewhere else. If it’s private, try to solve the issue raised however possible. Also, reply promptly, thank them for their feedback, take responsibility for what happened, and apologize for the problem caused. Remember that if it’s a response to an online review, most people reading the review will also check your response. So, replying in such a way will help you look more trustworthy, helpful, and caring.
Although it’s never pleasant to receive a negative comment, it’s a good learning experience. By truly listening to what your patients and their loved ones say, you can improve your offering and prevent other people from experiencing the same issues in the future.
Invest in Your Staff
Finally, to maintain a positive image and prevent receiving negative comments, you should invest in your staff. At the end of the day, you are providing a service, and if the people hired can’t do their job properly, it will cause long-term harm to your business and overall reputation. So, invest in staff training and development to ensure the best possible experience for your residents. If your staff succeeds, then you succeed. When that happens, people will have positive things to say about you and may even recommend you in the future through reviews or word-of-mouth recommendations, leading to increased online visibility and new customers.
Best Practices for Online Reputation Management
The Power of Online Reviews
Unfortunately, not every customer will write a positive review of their own free will if they had a good experience. On the other hand, if the service didn’t meet their expectations, they will most likely vent about it online due to their heightened emotional state.
One of the best ways to balance this content is by requesting such feedback. In fact, over 70% of consumers will leave a review if asked. There are various ways to do this. You could send email invitations, could capture real-time feedback when interacting with residents and their family members, or, to save time, could even automate this process.
Remember, collecting reviews is only half the job. The other half is responding to this online feedback. As with negative reviews, replying can help build and maintain your positive reputation. After all, a person took time out of their day to praise your service, so the least you can do is thank them for their feedback. By simply acknowledging the reviewer, you’re showing that you care about their comments, a trait that is vital in the social care sector.
If possible, also make sure to personalize the message by addressing the person by name. That will show that you haven’t just copied and pasted a reply for the sake of it but took time to recognize the reviewer and appreciate their feedback.
Consumer Insights and Anonymous Polling
Collecting past customer reviews is not the only way to manage your online reputation. Another way to achieve this goal is by using private feedback.
Have you ever wanted to ask your residents and staff specific questions about your business? For example, you may be interested in knowing whether your residents would like to participate in a particular social activity such as an art session or dance class. You may also want to learn who their favorite staff member is. By understanding their opinions and analyzing their valuable answers, you can use the feedback to exceed their expectations and improve your offerings. Also, it helps you save precious time and money as you get an insight into your customer’s wants and needs.
By acting on this insight, you will be able to keep your patients satisfied and maintain a positive online reputation.
Achieve a Strong Online Presence
Having the best reputation in the world is great, but what’s the point if you’re not showing up on search engines? If you want people to learn about your positive image and success, building a strong online presence is essential.
There are various ways to achieve this goal. The first step is to be active on social media. Although social media activity is not a direct factor for Google ranking, it can increase your website’s click-through rate, leading to higher brand awareness and visibility. Additionally, having social media profiles can get new listings on Google.
A listing appears when users search for your business or relevant keywords that you rank for, such as “elderly care” or “residential care.” The more listings you have, the greater your chance of being visible online. However, social media is not the only way to gain new listings. Joining third-party review platforms like Psydro or other websites such as care home associations can also help you gain more listings on Google. Below, you will find the various listings that Bartlett’s Care Home has online when searching for their company name on Google.
To achieve real visibility, you should also focus on search engine optimization (SEO). One way to optimize your website is through link building. This involves getting backlinks from other sites to pages on your website. Guest blogging is a simple method to achieve this.
This Is How Your Care Home Can Maintain a Positive Online Reputation
Building and maintaining a positive image is crucial for any care home, and it requires a deliberate effort to achieve it. One way to build a positive online reputation is through transparency and communication with patients. Being open and honest about your services can go a long way in establishing credibility and fostering loyalty. However, negative reviews and complaints are bound to happen. How you respond to them can make all the difference. By addressing complaints promptly and professionally, you can mitigate the impact and turn a negative experience into a positive one. Investing in your staff is also vital as they are the face of your business.
As seen above, the best practices for online reputation management include collecting and responding to reviews, leveraging consumer insights through polls and surveys and maintaining an active online presence to increase visibility. Overall, building and maintaining a positive image requires consistent effort, but the rewards are well worth it.
We can help! Due to popular demand, we have created the BrandGrowth plan. This incorporates our unique reputation management software with several marketing and growth strategies. In fact, BrandGrowth aligns SEO with brand reputation management and social validation, a one-of-a-kind formula that has been meticulously developed and tested to achieve real results. If you’re a care home or in the social care sector and interested in growing your business and online reputation, please book a 15-minute introductory call to learn the specifics of our plan. You can also view our essential guide which includes detailed information about the features and benefits that come with this service.
Whether you would like to use our help or implement these tactics in-house, we hope that from today onwards, you will prioritize reputation management as part of your overall strategy for success.