The team at The Springs Living in McMinnville, Oregon — which operates 20 senior living communities in Oregon, Montana and Washington — has a firm belief in providing a quality experience for all their residents. The challenge that Director of Marketing Matt Stubblefield faced recently was identifying how to extend a quality experience to prospective residents before they met with the community’s sales team.
“Engaging and following up with leads is time consuming, but it’s a critical step to ensure the greatest chance for success,” Stubblefield says.
Stubblefield and the team at The Springs Living found a solution to help them make and maintain those connections: FURTHER, a leader in AI-powered sales assistants designed to help operators increase occupancy.
“When it comes to managing leads, you actually can get quantity and quality as long as you have a system to manage it,” says Thomas Bierlein, chief customer officer of FURTHER. “We can help convert a much larger volume of website traffic into leads, but does the sales team have capacity to handle that? These leads don’t often get the follow-up they need down the funnel in order to convert. Fortunately, we have created solutions that automate lead engagement and follow-up, allowing the sales team to focus on leads that are most likely to move-in. Gone are the days of squabbling over quality vs. quantity. Now providers can engage them all and let our tools provide the timely follow-up.”
The Springs Living partnered with FURTHER to deliver this impactful one-two punch that helps them engage and follow up with leads in order to maximize their potential with every lead.
An improved online experience: conversing with more
The first solution The Springs Living deployed was FURTHER’s Virtual Sales Assistant (VSA) because of its ability to help prospective residents get the information they’re seeking faster.
“Time is so limited, so if this solution can help our sales team get there faster, it not only supports the team, but it also supports the prospects, which kicks off building relationships more quickly than we could otherwise,” Stubblefield says.
The VSA guides residents toward answers they seek with ease, eliminating the need to wait on responses from a form fill, and helps communities add more leads to their potential pool. Using the VSA, The Springs Living team quickly noticed that their lead quantity wasn’t all that was rising — their lead quality was too. The quick access to information and subtle qualification steps helped segment leads based on potential to convert.
Seeing these results, Stubblefield and team worked with FURTHER to pursue ways to extend this great experience for prospects once they left the website. This is where the FURTHER Contact Assistant stepped in to help.
Extending the experience: ensuring follow-up
“We know how important it is to extend the relationship we’re building with them on the website to the communities,” Stubblefield says. The Contact Assistant automates the initial offline outreach to prospects after they leave the website, bridging the important step between the online and offline experience. This ensures prospects hear from the community in a timely manner, showing them the community cares about their needs.
This happens through a series of automated SMS messages — texts — designed to deliver additional information to prospects to help them take the next steps with a community.
This is especially critical in senior living since that initial outreach is often sparked by a specific incident, such as a hospitalization or a fall. If it turns out that the prospect is still not ready to move despite the incident, the Contact Assistant continues to follow up until the prospect is ready to make the move.
“People can be overwhelmed when researching senior living options. There’s a sudden learning curve they must get through, but the Contact Assistant follows up gently, keeping us top of mind until they are ready to make a move,” Stubblefield says. “While we are in the early stages of using the FURTHER tools, we are finding these reminders to be beneficial to our offline experience.”
The combination of automation ensuring timeliness and choosing text as the medium of follow-up has helped make the Contact Assistant impactful for The Springs Living.
Follow up that resonates: “Text is the new email”
Why has the Contact Assistant’s SMS messaging proven to be so effective?
“Text is the new email,” Bierlein says. “It’s the way that people prefer to communicate. It’s non-intrusive, and it elicits a response compared to traditional phone calls.”
Bierlein stresses that during the first offline contact from the sales team to a prospect, the sales team must be respectful of the fact that anyone inquiring about senior housing is going through a trying experience.
“What sales teams need to do is connect with prospects when it’s appropriate for them,” Bierlein says. “In this case, text is seen as less intrusive. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t still call, but you’re able to better connect with prospects using text messages.”
The intent then, of course, is for the community to reply with additional information and continue the conversation via automated discovery.
“These messages can be customizable down to the community level, and the intent is to reach out immediately, thus acknowledging receipt and creating a dialogue in a way that everyone is used to communicating,” he says.
The power of follow-up: “Blowing away our expectations”
“What’s been really cool to see is how FURTHER starts the conversations that our team finishes,” Stubblefield says.
In the first four months using the new contact assistant from FURTHER, The Springs Living sales team gained 46 move-ins that had not previously had a tour scheduled before the Contact Assistant interacted with the lead.
“It’s been really awesome to see that our sales team loves it,” Stubblefield says. “When we first started working with FURTHER, they talked about some of the results we could expect. They’ve helped us achieve those and so much more, blowing away our expectations.”
This article is sponsored by Further. To learn more about how you can improve your website and drive more move-ins, visit talkfurther.com.
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