Placement Companies De-personalize Senior Housing Customers

I recently had an opportunity to use a senior housing placement company because I wanted to learn what customers experience if they would use this resource.

Since these listings for senior resources seem to appear first on an internet search, it seems logical that a potential customer would head there prior to calling a specific community for information.

To say the experience was intrusive is a good description.

I was pre-qualified regarding the amount of money I would consider spending per month during the first few minutes of the call and also asked about my health care needs. I was then transferred to someone who asked the same questions again.

These initial questions were especially prying and caused me to ponder.

Many major financial decisions someone makes during their lifetime do not require someone asking up front if they can afford it or not.

Think about it.

When your child calls for a college catalog or a campus tour, no one says that the tuition at this particular university is over $50,000 a year before sending you the catalog. They don’t ask how you will be paying for college or asks if you will need a scholarship.

You can walk into any automobile showroom and inquire about a particular model or to test drive a car. No one asks if you can afford a monthly lease or how you will pay for the car. A sales person tries to build rapport and touts a car’s features before the test drive. But they’ll roll it off the showroom and invest their time and gas to give you the driving experience. I don’t know what they do at the Bentley or Maserati showrooms but this is the norm from VW to Mercedes and all the cars in between.

Also, you’ll find cruise lines will send brochures without pre-qualifying the customer as to their financial abilities to pay for their vacation and prices could range from $2,000 to $20,000 and higher.

The same is practiced in new home sales. Anyone can tour model homes. While they will be encouraged to meet with a sales person, no one asks up front if they can afford the price tag of the homes the community offers before they tour the models. Sure, sales people know the tire kickers and the people out for a Sunday visit simply to see new décor, but they also are taught that among these “Lookie Lou’s” are some potential buyers.

Why is senior living different?

At a past Sales and Marketing Summit, we heard that we need to improve the customer experience. We were told to step into the customer’s shoes and show empathy.

I contend the customer experience needs to start with the first inquiry and the first inquiry may be generated by the internet and a telephone call. Showing empathy isn’t asking if $2,000 a month is in your budget within the first few minutes.

It may be better to be transparent and explain how a placement company works so the consumer understands the services that are provided.

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