Today’s uncertain times affect everyone, regardless of industry, company size, or risk factors. However, senior living communities are hardest hit because they’re most at risk. We hope you, your residents, your employees, your families, and your friends are safe and secure.
Since your prospects can’t come to you, given the current restrictions on social distancing, you can still meet them where they are…online. This is exactly when you need to reach out to your prospects and customers—not only to reassure them, but to offer solace and encouragement. Let those in your customer relationship management (CRM) application know how important they are to you and what you offer. As you are working from home, use this opportunity to let everyone know not only what you’re doing, but what you’ve always done to enhance and protect the lives of residents and what you plan to do in the future.
Everyone knows uncertainty isn’t good for business, nor is it good for those affected. You can and should view this as an opportunity to use your CRM to build even deeper relationships with those you care about most because, frankly, your brand and reputation depend on it.
Here are a few ways you can use your CRM to build and strengthen relationships in light of today’s uncertain times.
Communicate often and use credible, reliable sources
Now is not the time to retreat into your bunker and go radio silent. Instead, view this as an opportunity to communicate your company’s commitment to your mission. You’re concerned about your customers’ well-being as well as your employees and others. Proactively communicate that concern, but also communicate how you’re attacking the problem.
Base any message or communication with those in your CRM on credible sources. Be very careful to only relay accurate information from governmental and other reliable sources. While you might be tempted to pass on information that sounds legitimate, it’s on your shoulders to make sure you forward only messages easily verifiable by reputable sources.
Tip #1: It’s important to educate yourself about the current situation as it’s constantly changing and make decisions appropriately. You can’t go wrong when relaying information from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention , as well as the World Health Organization . Both institutions have up-to-date, accurate information that you can safely convey to those in your CRM. LeadingAge also provides continual updates for non-profit organizations focusing on senior living services and is a credible resource.
Tip #2: Work with your executive team members as well as your Administrator, Executive Director and Director of Nursing, and other key personnel to create a communications plan that is fluid, addressing ongoing changes.
Make sure you also educate and train all employees on the front line how to best respond to questions and concerns.
Tip #3: Once your community makes decisions, communicate them. Let prospects, residents, and their families know how your community is fulfilling its mission by being actively engaged in protecting, serving, and helping everyone stay safe and healthy. Incorporate how you’re investing in methods to combat the current situation as well as how you plan to reinvent your future plans. It’s important for those in your CRM to know not only how you’re responding to the situation, but how you are proactively moving forward. For example, share information about your daily infection control procedures, but also how you’ve increased cleaning and sanitation procedures and are limiting or excluding outside visitors to your community for the safety of residents and staff.
It’s better to communicate often with information you know for a fact. Let everyone in your CRM know how you’re handling the situation and let them know it’s a priority for you and every staff member.
Be sensitive and create possibilities
Relationships are about connection, so use your CRM to build relationships and connect with prospective residents, referral sources, stakeholders, loved ones and family members. Use your distribution list to communicate the same message to company employees. Communicating with everyone in your CRM as well as those in your distribution list maintains consistency and brand reputation.
Now is not the time to use scare tactics to force customers and prospects to make a decision. Instead, it’s the right time to let them know you have their best interests and health at heart.
Create a content marketing plan that provides you a platform to market your community from a distance . Content marketing relies on stories. Stories are strategies, not just a tool. A well-defined content management strategy that focuses on prospective residents and family members as well as referral sources can help you market your community while maintaining and growing occupancy.
Tip #4: Build a strategy around what people are feeling. Identify those feelings and tell a story around it. For family members, there is a lot of fear about a loved one’s well-being, understandably so. Communicate how your residents are doing.
A callous response to a situation that affects your residents and their families can irrevocably damage your brand and reputation. Today’s coronavirus pandemic will affect seniors more than anyone else in the United States. Those in your community are vulnerable and you must be sensitive to their fears, anxiety, and feelings of threat.
Make sure you understand everyone’s concerns and feelings and proactively address prospects in your CRM. Ensure you know what’s appropriate and permissible before you communicate with those in your CRM and distribution list. How can you help ease their fears with your response to the current health situation? Share resident insights, how they’re thriving, having fun, what life is like at your community given CDC recommendations that you’re honoring and stories about how life at your community has always been about the safety, health, happiness and welfare of your residents.
You want to make sure you’re delivering helpful, reassuring information to educate and calm those most affected.
For referral sources, think about what tasks they need to accomplish. How can you make it easier for them to do their jobs? What information should you communicate? What protocols or admission criteria do they need to know? What would help them make informed referrals to seniors and their families about your community?
Emotions drive decisions. Building trust boosts emotions (the evidence you’re providing to your community that you’re there for residents not just then, but now) and will convert to a decision when the time comes.
Your continual communication paints a picture of the future prospective residents or patients can have and family members can expect. Demonstrate your mission in action.
Use your CRM in multiple ways
Don’t rely on email only to communicate with your residents, their families, and referral sources. Email is the quickest way to send information to those in need. But your message may be overwhelmed in a sea of messages from companies just like yours who want to reassure customers that all is well.
Tip #5: Take advantage of social media and your website to post relevant information for everyone involved. Pop-ups or landing pages created specifically to address changing conditions and current operating procedures or offering a message from your CEO or Board President will not only inform family members, but also prospective residents and their families.
Tip #6: Consider the old-school method of calling your prospects to let them know how you’re handling current affairs. Providing assurances via a teleconference call or a video chat on your social platforms helps both families and referral sources build continual trust.
Tip #7: Depending on the level of care, create a 1-2 minute video of residents thriving, having fun, enjoying dinner, a game or movie night that showcases you’re committed to ensuring a sense of calm and attention to a high-quality community life for your residents. Likewise, prospective residents will witness your continual and unyielding commitment to resident care, health and happiness.
Videos showcasing residents speaking about the compassionate, dedicated and expert care they’re receiving can reassure family members and go a long way as well as fun, lighthearted videos. Create a montage of moments that demonstrate care, your community’s commitment to a quality life, staff serving residents, engaging programs, leadership in action…these are all ways to solidify your community. Make sure to receive resident consent and follow all HIPAA privacy laws.
Tip #8: Featuring videos of hardworking, dedicated staff demonstrating their heart to serve with a smile and their unyielding dedication to your residents builds trust. Who wouldn’t want to be a part of such an amazing community or want their loved one to be cared for with such compassion and dedication not just during uncertain times, but always?
Tip #9: Consider marketing your community to prospects in your CRM to build relationships via online tours either virtual, pre-recorded or live. Showcase an available staged apartment.
Tip #10: Demonstrate what and who sets your community apart–you may be restricted from going out into the world, but you’re making a difference to the many in your community who need and deserve great care!
Use your mission to drive your content management strategy. Your CRM contains a wealth of connections that you can use to build stronger relationships in uncertain times. And making these connections often and with relevant information helps you build stronger relationships that lead to trust and increased sales.
Remember to share what your community is currently facing, what you’re doing to maintain your promise to residents, prospects, and families, and how you’ll continue to engage with everyone to enhance quality of life while keeping everyone safe and healthy. Communicate often and widely so no one feels alone, isolated, or left out from friends and family on the outside.
Most importantly, communicate with everyone in your CRM. Think outside of the box: can you use technology to have virtual Facetime meetings or another video collaboration platform like Zoom in addition to phone calls and other outreach? Your communication strategy should inform, educate, and offer reassurance that you’re doing everything in your power to mitigate the situation. It will make a difference in your relationships which will help you boost sales–even during trying times.
What are your plans to use your CRM to build relationships over the next few weeks or months? Let’s get a conversation going to learn and collaborate so no one is left out. And please let me know what content marketing strategies or ideas you’d like to learn more about.