I recently completed a series of mystery shops for a client looking to explore the impact of their on-line presence. Though the surge in their popularity is undeniable, we often debate about the value of Internet inquiries. But the truth is we are not selling dog food, or patio furniture or school supplies. We are selling a promise for the last chapter of someone's life. It is possibly one of the only things you cannot purchase on line.
So what can be done? No matter what it takes, stop your sales team from spewing data about your business, in person, on line or on the phone. It's not that it doesn't matter. It just doesn't matter yet.
Here's what happened when I logged on to the websites of a dozen or so high-end assisted living and retirement homes to inquire.
Some had a Chat Feature but no one was there to chat. "Send us your email" was the response when no one was available. "Someone will contact you" was the most common reply. Most web inquiry templates demanded a phone number as a required field. Can't help me without a phone number? People often inquire on line because they don't want to talk to someone...at least not right away. They tread lightly and privately.
At one community, after I emailed that my husband appeared to be losing his memory, (How scary would that be?) they invited me to a Cinco De Mayo Margarita party. My husband had wandered off to the Safeway in his pajamas. A party was the last thing I needed.
The replies were all about "us". Our community, our amenities our beautiful building, our caregivers, our special events... No one said, "Tell me about you!" Imagine if you logged on to a website for a senior provider and it said, "Welcome to our Community. We'd like to meet you." Or, "Tell us about your search for a new home. How can we make it simpler, easier, and less fearful?"
The distance between the inquiry and the decision to purchase is huge! And the fact is, no one has ever moved in to a senior community without visiting. Even if it's not them, it's an advocate, a guardian or adult child. Someone has to visit. As a product, it's what challenges us daily and makes us unique. And considering that as an industry we have only penetrated the market of 65+ adults by 10% we have a long way to go in capturing the interest of our hopeful new inquiries.
My insights for your success.