May 31, 2013
Impact of Online Reviews on Senior Housing Industry
The impact of online reviews has pervaded nearly every industry, from restaurant and dining options, to technology, and now, even to the senior living industry.
A Senior Housing News report recently highlighted the importance of online reviews and social media when cultivating a strong online presence and public image. Marketing researchers agree that senior living providers have been lagging behind other industries in this practice, however, “as online consumer reviews on their communities grow more prevalent, so will the reviews’ impact on their bottom lines–making them impossible to ignore,” the report says.
Yelp.com, a popular review site established in 2004, has become an increasingly prevalent tool for consumers facing buying decisions. It allows consumers to leave ratings and reviews for all types of businesses, and currently has “more than 10 million business reviews and receives about 40 million unique visitors each month” according to a Harvard Business School study published this April. The study also found that for each star rating increase a restaurant received on Yelp, there was a 5-9 percent increase in revenue. Presumably, this boost would affect other business’ bottom lines as well.
On the flip side, one negative review can cost a business almost 30 customers, according to a separate study by Convergys. A study by Cone found that eight of ten customers will change their mind about a product after reading a negative online review. A Nielsen report found that people trust online consumer ratings and reviews (62 percent) more than the ratings/reviews of industry experts (57 percent).
While senior living reviews are relatively low at the moment, they are expected to grow enormously. As they grow, senior living options will be forced to become more competitive, with business practices conducive to positive online reviews, in order to survive.
“Everyone’s asking for reviews–they’re engaging with us on our Facebook page, and we get a lot of reviews from our own customers,” Eric Seifert, president of SeniorAdvisor.com, says. The website is a consumer review component of senior livi a senior living referral service.
“Customers are really driving this transition, and we all have to embrace it or else you end up trying to play catch-up,” Seifert adds.
“Reviews already have a measurable impact, and it will only grow,” says Blake Hodges, director of digital media and analytics at GlynnDavis, a marketing firm.
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