Who Answers the Phone at your Senior Living Community on Saturday?

By Diane Twohy Masson

Here are my results after calling 12 retirement communities in the Mid-West on a Saturday morning at 10:00 AM Central time: The scores were one A+, two B’s, five C’s, one D and three F’s…

I asked everyone the same question, “I am looking for a place for my mom – she lives in your town – how many places are there to choose from and how do you rate?” This was apparently a tough question for many…ratings were graded higher if they answered the telephone, could be clearly understood, answered the questions and asked for my name and telephone number before the conversation ended.

Only four people asked for my phone number, so those unique individuals were awarded a C+ or above for their heroic efforts. Two assisted living communities went straight into voice mail, so they received automatic F’s. The A+ person was an executive director (E.D.) working on a Saturday. The E.D. was outstanding answering all my questions and asked for my name and phone number.

Three communities had workers that mumbled when they answered the telephone (I literally had no idea what they said and had to clarify if I had called the correct number – which of course I had). One of the “mumblers” sounded like a 4 year old answering the phone. I had to clarify three times that they were indeed an assisted living community and then they said no one was available to answer my questions. They never asked for my phone number and I eventually hung up giving them a F- as a score.

The B- score asked for my phone number three times and inquired when I would be in town to visit. But when I asked them how they rated for a third time, they talked about the activities or their medical services (without answering the rating question).

A C- answered the phone with an award winning description. Then they said their boss would be in on Monday to answer more of my questions and never asked for my phone number.

One of the “mumblers” transferred me to the sweetest gal who gave the most sincere and heartfelt description of the community. The nice gal kept going and started giving too much information that I never asked about like the price, rooms were available and the nurse would need to do an assessment first. Overall the community was given a C- because of the heartfelt description.

As you can see, there was a wide variety of scores but overall, the majority of these staff were not trained on how to answer the phone correctly and to ALWAYS request someone’s name and phone number. This same challenge can happen when the Monday thru Friday receptionist takes a break during the week. Could this be why your occupancy is down? There is a simple solution – training!

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