Customer Experience Design for Senior Living Communities
Ready or not … 2020 is right around the corner and it is brewing a perfect storm for senior living community customer experience. Not only is 2020 the year AARP® estimates an unprecedented 117 million Americans will need health assistance of some kind, it’s also the year Walker Info reports that customer experience will overtake price and product as the key differentiator between brands. Senior living communities can expect increased demand and competition while residents simultaneously mandate landslide changes to your customer experience offerings. Turn these changes into opportunities by incorporating customer experience best practices into your senior living design.
But first, what does customer experience look like for your senior living community? Customer experience is a culmination of all interactions a customer has with your community, regardless of channel, throughout the customer lifespan. From the first time a potential resident or their family visits your website or walks through your doors to daily interactions with staff members and every bill they pay, it all adds up to create their total customer experience. Here are five customer experience best practices customized to get senior living communities started.
1. Put people first
Senior living is a people business, and putting your people first can make a big impact. McKnight’s shared an example of a customer experience supervisor who visited residents to build community while also asking about facility concerns. This personal effort lowered formal complaints and helped residents feel their concerns were heard.
Other simple ideas include:
- Treat residents as respected friends throughout the organization. Train younger team members on generational communication differences so all residents feel respected and cared for.
- Determine what communication channels residents and family members prefer to use. Whether phone, email, chat, text or face-to-face, find ways to seamlessly incorporate preferred channels into your processes. For example, many family members work full-time and are not available during the day. Make sure there is an after-hours bill pay or questions line they can use.
- Make sure residents can get an answer with the first person they ask. Train and empower your entire team to find the right answer to any question.
2. Learn from your community
Customer experience often draws on interviews, focus groups, satisfaction surveys and other listening tools to learn about opportunities from your customer’s perspective. If you’re not ready to conduct formal research, start documenting interactions with community members and using both positive and negative feedback to better understand your team’s strengths. Collect this data to gain understanding of the most common issues your residents are facing. Solve those issues before going any further, and ask your community for feedback on the new solution.
3. Define the customer journey
Whether your team collects formal or informal data, use what you’ve learned to map all customer touch points. Create a customer journey map by identifying each audience group, specific group goals and all interactions with your community along the way. For example, a family member may encounter your community in the following places:
- Online when researching senior living communities for Mom or Dad
- At an initial visit
- On move-in day
- During regular visits
- When helping pay the bills
Each touch point might include several unique interactions. At each touch point and interaction ask yourself (or even better … ask the customer):
- What’s his or her goal?
- What barriers is he/she encountering?
- How does the interaction make the customer feel?
- What questions does he/she have?
Opportunities for enhanced customer experience emerge from each customer-community interaction.
4. Pair customer needs with customer service enhancements
Your community provides wellness, housing, community, nutrition and medical services, plus so much more. People have needs in each of these areas, and any place there’s a need, you have an opportunity to enhance the customer experience. Draw on technology for innovative ideas to meet needs in each area. Even if your community doesn’t use the latest gadget, care-driven technology may spark ideas for enhancing care in your community.
5. Implement, test, measure and repeat
Every customer experience enhancement may not be the end-all-be-all to solving a resident need. Seek feedback from your community and gather new ideas, and repeat the process. Community members will notice the effort and enjoy the process.