When it comes to negative online reviews, reputation experts agree on one thing: it is absolutely key to respond to them.
This holds true in the senior housing industry, where reviews are often emotionally charged — for better or worse.
Senior housing communities are both disparaged and praised on Yelp!, Glassdoor, A Place for Mom and Facebook, according to Meghan Lublin, senior vice president of corporate marketing and communications at Sunrise Senior Living, and Dan Hutson, vice president of communications and marketing at be.group. Lublin and Hutson served as panelists Wednesday at the SMASH 2015 Senior Care Marketing Sales Summit in Bloomingdale, Illinois.
Speaking with Senior Housing News, Lublin shared some tricks of the trade when it comes to responding to online reviews of providers.
1. Take the conversation offline.
Avoid a public back-and-forth with reviewers, Lublin suggested. The thousands of other people who read a negative review just need to know the provider saw it and apologized. Then, the conversation can be moved to a more private forum with the person who made the complaint.
2. Get to the bottom of the complaint.
Negative reviews can serve as a jumping-off point into an investigation. Providers can learn from legitimate negative reviews and work to fix the problems that led to them.
3. Utilize free tools to supplement staff.
As part of her work, Lublin helps manage the reputation of 304 Sunrise Senior Living communities. For smaller providers, Lublin advised utilizing inexpensive online monitoring tools to fill the place of staff (Hutson specifically mentioned Google Alerts during the panel session.) Lublin also stressed the importance of knowing which sites the reviews will appear on, and having a plan in place to deal with them when they come.
So — should a provider ever solicit positive reviews? Glassdoor’s Colin Danaher, who also served as a panelist at SMASH, told conference attendees “no.” Providers should aim for authentic reviews, he said — if organizations are creating a great working and living environment, they shouldn’t fear negative reviews; instead, they should look forward to honest ones.
Written by Mary Kate Nelson