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Notes from the road: reshaping the customer experience in senior living

I had the opportunity to attend the 2017 Argentum Senior Living Executive Conference in Music City, Tennessee. On my flight to Nashville, I noticed the person next to me reading an article titled, “Improving the Customer Experience” in Southwest Airlines Magazine. Intrigued by the title, I did what any logical person would do and attempted to read the article over the person’s shoulder. Then, struggling to actually read anything, I decided to take out my own copy of the magazine and read it there.

A statement in the article by Southwest CEO Gary Kelly really stood out to me. “When we think about the ‘customer experience,’ we don’t simply mean customer service. Sure, that’s part of it, but we think of the experience as our relationship with you—from the time you visit our website or call us, to the time you arrive at your destination, to all points in between.”

All industries need to have this mindset about customer experience—especially senior living. Think about it: over 70% of people begin their healthcare/senior-living search online. People are forming a perception about your communities well before they even set foot in one of your buildings.

At the conference, George Blackenship, former executive at Tesla and Apple, shared stories about his experiences at these trailblazing companies. These disruptive innovators have not only completely changed the game in their respective industries, but in the process, they also completely redesigned the customer experience.

Blackenship quoted Steve Jobs saying, “Innovation is the only way we win.” In October 2001, Apple changed how we listen to music today with the first iPod and an unheard-of “1,000 songs in your pocket.” Blackenship went on to share stories about redesigning Tesla’s customer-engagement strategy, “You know you’ve been successful in your customer service if people leave smiling.” This was the goal Blackenship had for those companies in every interaction with their customers.

We’ve seen the equation across the board in different industries: innovation + customer service = success. It sounds so simple, doesn’t it? However, I think we get so comfortable with the way we have done things that we miss out on new opportunities—especially in senior living. The theme of combatting complacency was apparent throughout many of the educational sessions at the conference. Think about the consumers who will be needing senior living in the near future, compared to the residents and families we are used to serving—there are quite a few differences in their perceptions, expectations, and ways they want to be served.

Innovation from other industries continues to enhance the lives of those we serve every day. We need to meet and exceed consumers’ ever-increasing expectations, before our competition beats us to it. Senior living has become a hospitality industry, and those who are going to be successful will be the ones who accept and welcome change. Get creative, think outside the box, and most importantly, get uncomfortable!

About NRC Health

Currently recognized by Modern Healthcare as one of the largest patient-satisfaction measurement firms in the US, NRC Health (NASDAQ: NRCIA and NRCIB) is dedicated to representing the true voice of residents, patients, and other healthcare stakeholders. Its integration of cross-continuum metrics and analytics uncovers insights for effective performance improvement, quality measurement, care transitions, and many other factors that impact population-health management.

For more information, visit www.nrchealth.com.