Home care and retirement living providers are failing to impress potential new customers and losing existing ones, with questions and calls going unanswered in high numbers. People expect better service from providers!
A mystery shopping survey found that 70 per cent of residential providers could not confidently answer questions due to either a lack of information or a reluctance to talk before a My Aged Care assessment.
In home care, 100 per cent of providers requested callers to go through the My Aged Care website before answering questions while 80 per cent of retirement living providers failed to answer calls from prospective customers, of whom only half received a requested call back.
People expected a good customer experience and aged care operators need to “up their game” in this area. One experience customers certainly don’t appreciate is calling a service provider call centre, having to explain “their story” again and again, leaving message to coordinators who don’t return their calls, and receiving no feedback at all.
The survey also found that 78 per cent of residential operators had low or moderate knowledge of fees in the initial call while 80 per cent of answered calls resulted in the customer being sent an information pack and/or told to make a site visit to have their questions answered. Maybe providers are just reluctant to explain their fee structure and prices initially to “soften the blow”, as people in Australia are certainly not accustomed with the idea that aged and home care costs money.
Echoing the results was feedback from consumer interviews, which showed widespread frustration among existing and potential clients.
In residential care, the study found the main sources of frustration was confusing fee arrangements, a lack of relevant information in response to questions and an inability to provide information about the wait list for specific facilities.
Some customers switch providers after poor handling of inquiries and this will continue unless serious efforts are put into improving the customer experience. This seems to be to the advantage of private providers, such as Country Mile Home Care, as a lot of callers express surprise and gratitude for receiving extensive information when they speak to director Ann Young.
At Country Mile Home Care customers always receive a return call, and Ann takes the time to provide information about the services, waiting times and fees. She also provides information about the process of accessing government funded home care or respite programs and assists the caller to understand the system.
Many providers are overlooking the most critical stage in their customer’s journey – the moment they initially engage with them. It’s worrying the sector still appears to be grappling with a key aspect of the move to a customer service model.
Country Mile has recently been nominated as a finalist in the South West Small Business Awards in the Start-up and Service Industry Award categories, acknowledging the outstanding service it provides.
Other survey findings included:
- 60 per cent of retirement living providers had out-of-date website information
- 60 per cent of home care package providers did not disclose their current prices
- 30 per cent of home care operators did not call back after messages had been left
- 60 per cent of home care providers could not adequately answer questions