With over 237 million smart phone users in the US last year, consumers are savvier than ever and know how to find the information they need, and when they need it, right on their mobile device. Many industries are adapting how they reach and communicate with consumers online. They’re making their mobile sites more responsive, easier to navigate on smaller screens, and adapting their communication styles to fit consumer needs.
The senior living industry is no exception. Before the influx of web and mobile phones, most senior living providers base consumer engagement and sales quotas on phone calls – counting on a phone conversation or in person visit to secure a move-in. With consumer shifts, our industry must learn to adapt their sales processes to meet consumers where they are; considering email and text as preferred forms of communication for many.
91% of adults use email and text messages as their preferred communication method in 2017*
Families are busier than ever, and may not always be able to pick up the phone to talk. However, starting a conversation via email or text can open the line of communication to pique a family’s interest. Once you’ve made the connection, you can establish an open line of communication, and ask how they’d like to communicate moving forward. Further, text and email are more effective forums for providing both the quick exchange of information – such as confirming the time of a tour – as well as laying out in writing more complicated information such as floor plans, pricing and care levels, which are more difficult to convey in a phone call.
How APFM is Communicating with Families via Text
A Place for Mom has also noticed trends in the shift towards mobile on our own sites. Over half our visitors are coming in on a mobile device, and more interested families wanting to communicate by email or text. Providing busy families alternate forms of communication has increased opportunities to introduce more families to our partner communities. For families who did not want to connect with us over the phone, we provide the option to email, text or schedule a time for a call; an approach which has proven successful in connecting with more families.
Our Senior Living Advisors send and receive an average of 65,000 texts a month. Opening the line of communication in the way the family prefers has allowed us to connect with more families we may not have otherwise been able to reach by phone, and provide them the service and expertise they’re looking for.
In analyzing our 2018 communications, we discovered:
- Over 6,000 families engaged with us via text messages quarterly.
- 83% of those families were qualified and referred to our partner network.
- Almost 100% of families who preferred to text, toured more than one community.
- 68% of families who text with us have an initial monthly budget over $3,000. (Keep in mind that families often choose a community above their initial budget)
Life Care Services noticed it was becoming more difficult to get full voice conversations with families. They found it was easier to text and email with busy families, some they may never speak to on the phone. Paula McCann, Sales Specialist at Life Care Services, said she was having so much success texting and emailing with families that she decided to text a few leads she had not heard from in a while and was surprised at the responses she received, and the speed of the response.
“I am working a lead where the son works at a bank. When I email him at work, he responds quickly with a plethora of information. We have never spoken via phone and have established a great rapport and relationship over email.” Paula McCann, Sales Specialist at Life Care Services
She said her team is slowly implementing more texting and delighted at how well it is working. They’ve found they’re able to get a hold of leads in a more timely fashion. McCann recommends senior living providers use multiple methods of communication and adapt to their preferred communication method.
5 Tips to Communicate with Families in a Digital Marketplace
- Be flexible
Consider providing more than one option, and outlining a clear outreach process to allow your team to be most effective. Being open minded and flexible allows your sales team to adapt to family preferences, as well as opens the door for families to communicate comfortably and efficiently.
- Try Multiple Methods of CommunicationTry different methods of communication at first and adapt to the individual preferences. Let the family know on the initial call that you will be texting them afterwards. It initiates your texting relationship and mode of communication. Tell the family to save your number as a contact for future reference and ease. ie “Let me text you my name and number, so it’s easier for you to call me.”
- Schedule your future texts!Plan out future texts to send reminders 24 hours in advance of a scheduled tour, reminding them of the time and address, and upcoming appointments. And feel free to send a text after a tour, as well, asking them how it went.
- Keep Messages Short and to the PointText messaging is meant to be a short form communication method. Be short and concise in your messages. Keep them personalized with their name, and avoid slang. Keep it professional.
- Obtain proper ConsentBe sure to obtain proper consent when texting a family and provide the option to opt out if they choose not to text anymore.
As technology and consumer preferences change, implementing email and text into your communication plan will be necessary to connect with today’s busy families. A Place for Mom is here to collaborate with our senior living partners in the adoption of email or text to increase family connections and resident move-ins. Share with us what steps you’re taking to adapt your communication methods to better connect with families.