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Valerie V Show Ep 2: Customer Service, Recruiting and Planning Ahead!
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Valerie V: Give me your marketing keys. I’m taking over. Hey, guys. This is Valerie Vanbooven. Wow. I don’t usually do this from my phone. Very cool. Where should I look? Where should I look? Okay. I said I would try to be with you every day and I am trying. Life gets in the way sometimes.
Today this is a quickie, but I wanted to talk to you about a couple of things. Thing number one, customer service. I have had a really excellent experience with customer service, I’m so happy to say, in the last couple of weeks. Number one, after 13 years of living in the same home, we finally had our floors redone. We haven’t ever done that, and it was a hassle and a half, but we did it and we actually went through Lowe’s. We didn’t use anybody fancy.
We just went there, picked up what we wanted, and the process, with a couple of weird messages or hiccups but nothing major went very smoothly. That’s a big deal when you have three kids and two dogs and a household full of furniture for 13 years. It’s a big deal to have your floors done. We had to take care of every … it’s like packing up to move, basically, so we got it done. It’s all done, but in the interim, we also haven’t changed our bed pretty much in 13 years, so it was way overdue, so mom and dad got a new bed for Christmas. We splurged a little and did a Sleep Number bed, so as you can imagine this is not something that I or my husband are going to do or put together by ourselves.
So we’ve ordered the bed and the customer service by Sleep Number was excellent. Everything went exactly as it should have. We had no problems at all, and I appreciate that so much because, frankly, we had been sleeping on a blowup mattress for two weeks. We got rid of our big bed two weeks ago so that it would be easier for the floor installers, and we knew we were going to replace it, so we’ve just slept in a blowup mattress and it’s a bummer to sleep on a blowup mattress. All done now. We have new floors and we have a new bed as of today, so finally a good night sleep, but I got to say the customer service through Sleep Number and through Lowe’s both were very excellent and I couldn’t be happier.
So that made me think about customer service from a home care’s perspective or a senior care’s perspective. You know, when you enter in as a consumer into a contract for home care, this isn’t like buying a bed or buying a new floor. As big of a hassle as that is and as big of a financial commitment as that is, home care or senior care issues are a much bigger commitment emotionally, financially. It can be overwhelming, so when you are out there selling your home care services or whatever senior service you provide, assisted living, geriatric care management, whatever it is, as you’re selling that service do you know that what you’re telling that person is going to happen really will happen? If you ever question that, please go back and talk to the people who are supposed to make those things happen.
The operations, the process, getting someone, a home health aide within four hours, or getting someone out to the house and do an assessment that same day, are all of those things really happening once you sell that home care service? That family is so deeply dependent on you once you start down that road and they say yes and they sign on that dotted line, so please, if you are in home care sales, assisted living sales, or whatever it is you’re doing, think about those families and what you’ve promised them and what you’ve talked to them, and try to make sure, with everything you’ve got, that those things actually happen. I know we all assume it’ll happen and we all want them to happen, but just put them at ease. If you say you’re going to be there, be there. That’s my customer service stuff.
The other thing that’s on my mind about customer service is who is answering the phone in your office. I have talked to a lot of folks about all of our processes we’ve been going through with the house in the last couple of weeks, and I can say that there have been some stellar people on the phone and there have been some bad people on the phone, so if you have an office staff that is your frontline, that’s the first human connection that someone may have with your home care agency, please get them some telephone training. Make sure they know how to answer the phone and they can be compassionate, and they can understand that the person on the phone is overwhelmed and needs help.
Please listen to those phone calls if you’ve never done that, or you can have track recorded line. You can do a lot of things. Listen to how that goes and make sure you know what it’s like to call your home care agency or your assisted living facility when the time comes. Make sure you know what that sounds like, so that’s another thing that I find on my mind a lot these days.
Let’s see. I have a couple of notes here. Oh, recruiting. For everybody out there, recruiting gets harder and harder and harder every single year, I know this, and we’ve implemented some recruiting programs that may be helpful for you, and for some of you it may be way too much. You don’t need quite as much as what we offer and that’s okay, but I want you to remember this. No matter what recruiting service you use, no matter what you’re doing, it’s a numbers game. For whatever reason, we’re dealing with a population of people who do not show up at their appointed time for their interview and their application. I can’t speak to why that is. I don’t know if that’s a millennial thing. I don’t know if that’s just the nature of the caregiver thing. I don’t know what it is, but I do know that you need more caregivers. Especially those of you in the Sun Belt right now, this is your peak time and you have to be able to fulfill and take all those cases, so you’re very busy.
So the more caregivers you have raising in their hand and saying, “Yes, I’m interested in a position with you,” the better off you’re going to be, so it is a numbers game. Don’t feel personally offended when people don’t show up. Just know that the more people you have raise their hand from those ads, the more people you’re going to have actually shown up. The numbers game has changed. It used to be that maybe 75% of the people that said, “Yes, I’m interested,” would actually show up for that interview. Now we’re down to 50%, 40%, 30% of those people showing up, so you just got to get more people out there. Run more ads. You know, do more. In our program, that’s what we’re designed to do. We’re designed to get the volume that you need so that you’re getting those butts in the door to get those interviews done and to make those offers, so it really is a numbers game. You have to increase the volume of people raising their hand in order to increase the volume of people who actually show up for the interview.
Okay. Oh, my last thing I want to say. As all of us are in the long-term care industry, basically, or have been at some point, you may be selling home care, you might own a home care agency, you may be in assisted living, nursing home, whatever the case, when you’re in that business, when you’re actually working in this industry and you see over and over again that people do not have the funds to afford your services, they have to go with Medicaid or they don’t have long-term care insurance or they just don’t have financially, they’re not capable of paying privately for some of the services that are out there, that reminds me to remind you that you are going to be in that same boat someday, so please plan ahead for long-term care. Get that long-term care insurance policy. Make sure you have money set aside. Make sure you have a life insurance policy to cover your burial expenses.
Make sure you have a life insurance policy that can potentially be converted into emergency use for long-term care or that you can do a life settlement with to help pay for your long-term care. Plan ahead. Get something in place because now you see what’s happening. You know down the road that it’s going to be your turn someday, and we all hope to live a long life, so please plan ahead. Get those long-term care insurance policies in place. I’ve always been an advocate of long-term care insurance. I know it’s expensive, but if you can do nothing else, think about life insurance. You may not need, or you may be at a point where your children are grown and you don’t need life insurance, but if you can get life insurance and you can convert that into something to help pay for those long-term care needs, then that might be an option to consider as well.
That’s my soapbox and my two cents for the day. Thanks, everybody, and I’ll be with you again Monday. Bye!
Valerie’s motto and favorite saying is: “Impact is not created by big budgets, impact is created by innovative marketing ideas!”
Valerie is a Registered Nurse and the author of three books, Aging Answers (2003), The Senior Solution (2007) and Priceless Caregiving (2009). Her adventure in internet marketing began as a self-promotion experiment and ended up becoming a full time marketing consulting business for the elder care market.
Valerie has appeared on national television (Today Show), has hosted her own local radio show, and has been interviewed for dozens of publications and radio shows across the country regarding her business and the business of elder care.
She fast became the foremost authority in driving sales via the internet, seminars, and e-mail for senior service providers and elder care entrepreneurs.While Valerie’s best known for her expertise in marketing, her students share that her biggest impact comes from her ability to make things happen quickly, even on a small budget.
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