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Care Home Sector – how to effectively handle new customer enquiries

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Echo’s contact centre director Karen Banfield discusses the challenges facing the UK care home sector and looks at ways in which an outsourced customer contact specialist can help…

In the UK, adult care needs are on the rise.  More and more people are living longer with multiple and complex health conditions and disabilities, and this is contributing to a shortage in available nurses.  On top of this, since 2010, the government has cut funding to local authorities and it’s not just local authority care homes who are struggling in the current climate. A recent study found that three out of four private care providers are concerned that today’s difficult climate could affect their ability to continue in business.  To remain afloat, care providers must do all they can to both maximise occupancy and provide exceptional customer service to existing and new customers and their families.

Outsourcing Customer Enquiries
Outsourcing services can be one way in which care providers begin to address the challenges they face.  For example, outsourcing patient care is already a widespread practice across the sector.  However, it’s only recently that forward thinking care providers have also started to outsource their customer service functions.

Many care home groups rely on over-stretched care home employees to manage new customer enquiries as well as carrying out their core caring responsibilities.  Outsourcing new customer enquiries to a customer contact specialist can help here, ensuring that all enquiries are given the same high level of care and attention.  An outsourced dedicated customer contact function can help care home groups to differentiate in a highly competitive market and help to put customers at the heart of the entire operation.

Outsourcing adds value
An outsourced customer contact specialist can deliver the right engagement with potential customers at every stage of their journey, ensuring each customer relationship is nurtured properly, assisting care homes to maximise occupancy and effectively manage prospective customer enquiries.

A centralised approach will guarantee that customers receive a consistent brand experience across all the individual homes within a care home group. Customer contact specialists can also offer invaluable insight into the customer journey and capture customer data effectively.  This can add significant value to a care home group’s customer acquisition and retention strategies. 

Customer contact specialists have highly experienced customer service advisors who can empathise with and take an understanding approach when dealing with customers who often have sensitive enquiries.

Addressing the risks
It is of course important to recognise and address the potential risks of outsourcing customer contact.  Finding the right outsourcing partner is critical, as failure to find the right match can results in reputational damage, loss of control and poor customer experiences.  It is therefore important to invest considerable time in selecting a proven and reliable customer contact specialist with the right experience and expertise.

The Perfect Partner
The right partner will work side by side with the care organisation, devising a bespoke strategy that places the customer at the heart of the operation.  An effective outsourcer will:

Understand the care home sector – and be proven, knowledgeable and experienced in care home customer acquisition and service

Be empathetic and understanding – with customer service advisors who have the right soft skills to engage customers sensitively

Be a brand ambassador – caring for and protecting the care home group brand as if it were their own

Add value – through invaluable customer journey insight and advice to improve reach and conversion

Offer a bespoke, tailored solution – working closely with the care home group to perfectly match the right solution to their unique needs

Deliver a consistent customer experience – via a centralised service that delivers the same exceptional experience across the whole care home estate

Great customer service is about feelings and experiences, and in an increasingly competitive marketplace, an outsourced contact centre specialist can help care home groups to create meaningful value during the pivotal moments that really matter, giving prospective customers and their families the right first impression and nurturing and converting leads to maximise occupancy rates.

Karen


Echo is a leading provider of customer enquiry management in the residential care home sector, we work with a number of the UK's leading care home groups to improve customer service, reach and conversion.  Contact us via phone (0117 344 4500), email (ask@echo-ms.com) or web chat to find out more about how we can help...


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