Your senior housing community may be going up against the Goliaths when it comes to incoming marketing calls.
The national brands of senior housing communities specializing in assisted living and memory care are turning to the use of centralized call centers to handle incoming marketing calls. Someone is available 24/7 to handle revenue generating calls.
What this means is that there is someone always ready to build trust and put families at ease. They know just what to say and lend an empathetic ear. They answer questions, schedule visits and may also respond to emails.
How do you train your staff to go up against this level of professionalism?
First, it’s important to telephone mystery shop your marketing team and the first responders during normal business hours and also on the weekends. You’ll quickly learn where there are weaknesses that need to be corrected.
There are advantages to the personal touch your staff can give family members. They can build rapport and be the face someone has spoken to on the telephone when the family calls again or comes to tour.
Here are a few tips in gauging the effectiveness of the first responder:
- Can they be easily understood when they answer the phone?
- Do they provide their name and the name of the community?
- Are they sing-songing the greeting or do they clearly enunciating the name of the community?
- Do they sound upbeat or tired?
- If they ask who is calling, is the person’s name used again when the call is transferred?
- Is this telephone the main telephone line for all incoming community calls so there may be multiple rings before the call is answered?
- Are they helpful in transferring the caller to the right department?
We refer to first responders as directors of first impressions because it clearly defines the importance of their role. They should always use the line that is used by many companies today, “It’s my pleasure.”
If there is a direct line to either the sales-marketing department or if the administrator/executive director also handles marketing inquiries, we feel it’s important that they share their title with the person calling (i.e. “I’m Mary Jones, the administrator for Such & Such community. How can I be of help?”
It is so important to provide one’s title when someone is calling so they know to whom they are speaking. That will start in separating your community from a Goliath.
People will be very impressed when they learn they are speaking to a community administrator, nurse, director of sales and sales person.
Getting people to talk about themselves is key to building rapport. Often sales personnel want to be the one who is talking. Your competitors have all the time in the world to ask open ended questions to learn more about the caller and their situation.
We often find sales people revert to what we call a real estate presentation. They will provide apartment details without first learning about the customer and their needs. We say they miss their discovery. This is an important part of any telephone inquiry because you need to learn about the person’s situation. This is not necessary the medical oriented questioning which often we hear. Many communities start a conversation asking, “Is mom ambulatory or what’s mom’s medications?” Neither question is good conversation opener. As far as the caller is concerned you are a stranger at this point and why should they provide details about their parents’ health. All they wanted to initially learn was if they could afford your community and if there were vacancies.
Using the person’s name makes someone feel that someone cares and is listening. An effective telephone conversation integrating discovery would be, “Mrs. Smith, I’m so glad you called us today and I’m happy to be of help. Could you tell me more about your mom and why you feel she may need our community?”.
Try this technique the next time you answer your community’s incoming sales calls. You may be surprised at how this technique builds rapport and you’ll quickly schedule a visit.