About the COVID-19 Q&A Senior Living Expert Series:
While working with over 300 communities across the country, we’ve diligently been monitoring the changes that are happening rapidly — daily — during this quickly shifting marketplace. We’re all feeling the effects of the “new normal” on community operations, sales and marketing, but quick action is needed. Trust us when we say this is a marathon, not a sprint. We’ve been working around the clock to help our communities pivot to the right methods in order to sustain business, and this video series is a direct output of that thought leadership. Each week, we’ll be speaking with a new senior living marketing or sales expert as we explore ways in which you can steer your community’s occupancy efforts and facilitate change as we weather this storm. Together.
Expert: Dave Dunn, Director of Communications & PR
Q. What trends are we seeing with reputation management and online reviews for senior living communities, and what impact is the pandemic having on those reviews?
A. We pulled key metrics for 2020 for all clients across major online review sites and broke it down by month. The findings are encouraging for senior living communities.
|Avg. Star Rating||4.0||4.0||3.8||4.3|
The month of April, when stay-at-home orders were in full effect, saw a significant uptick in the percentage of positive reviews and average star ratings for communities. Typically, about 70% of all reviews are positive, with an average rating of 4 out of 5 stars. In April, the percentage of positive reviews was up to 84%, with an average rating of 4.3 out of 5 stars.
Data showed the trend and uptick in positive sentiment continuing through the first week of May.
Q. Could you talk about the importance of online reviews and building a strong image and reputation?
A. When people Google-search a community, online reviews are one of the first things you’ll see. Optimizing your online review sites is an important component of SEO and local search rankings. Research shows reviews build trust and tell a community’s story from a customer’s point of view. Statistics also show that 82% of all consumers read online reviews for a business, and these can influence their decision-making. More specifically, 71% of adults 55+ say they read online reviews for businesses and these influence their decision- making.
Q. What do you see behind the uptick in positive reviews and star ratings during the pandemic?
A. There seems to be a greater level of empathy and understanding among those who are inside communities. It’s not what a lot of people outside of communities, the general public, may think. Residents, staff and families of residents are thankful, appreciative, and they feel a sense of safety and security at communities.
Q. Where are the majority of reviews coming from? Residents, staff, families of residents?
A. Since the beginning of April, the majority of reviews are coming from residents, followed by staff, and then families of residents. Typically, families of residents leave the most reviews, followed by residents, then staff, then prospective residents and others.
Q. There appears to be a drop in the total number of reviews in April. What’s contributing to it?
A. Two factors. First, there aren’t as many people visiting communities. Campuses are closed to all visitors and nonessential people to mitigate risks of COVID-19. The drop in foot traffic means fewer people are able to experience a community and leave a review.
Second, Google disabled all reviews from mid-March though the beginning of May. The company said they didn’t want the pandemic skewing reviews and wanted to maintain the quality and reliability of business info. Google also said staffing issues related to stay-at-home orders contributed to the decision to hold all reviews over that time period.
Just this week, Google has started to post reviews left over that period.
Q. What are some tips or advice for communities to increase positive reviews?
A. Make the ask. If you hear a resident or staff member share positive feedback about the community in a conversation, use the opportunity to ask them to leave a review. That is the single most effective tactic right now.
Other tips and methods to increase positive reviews include: