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Providers told to ‘up their game’ on customer service

Aged 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.

Consultancy firm KPMG assessed the customer experience of the sector through a mystery shopping survey and 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.

Nicki Doyle

KPMG aged care director Nicki Doyle said people expected a good customer experience and aged care operators needed to “up their game” in this area.

“Providers that cannot put positive customer outcomes at the heart of their operating models will find it hard to attract and retain customers and control costs,” Ms Doyle said.

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.

Echoing the results was feedback from consumer interviews, also included in the report, 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.

“We found customers switching providers after poor handling of inquiries and this will continue unless serious efforts are put into improving the customer experience,” Ms Doyle said.

She said aged care providers were spending significant resources to improve quality and client direction but that only seemed to be stating after consumers accessed their services.

“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-first model,” Ms Doyle said.

The study found that larger providers and for-profit retirement villages were generally able to answer queries better due to call centre operations, while smaller providers relied on frontline staff taking calls.

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.

Read the report: Customer experience in the ageing sector

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4 Responses to Providers told to ‘up their game’ on customer service

  1. Dana Sawyer July 3, 2017 at 10:53 am #

    We at Millennium have being saying this for years. However, I do have to point out that the reality is “no one” really knows how my aged care is actually working and facilities have no way of assisting clients till that assessment has been completed . Further, there is an intrinsic conflict of interest between the aged care provider and the client at the initial stages of customer contact. As long as the aged care providers are the main source of industry information the client will be at a disadvantage. It is now time for the government and consumer lobby groups to encourage individuals to seek INDEPENDENT advice in the first place prior to making a decision.

  2. Dave July 3, 2017 at 6:17 pm #

    Oh dear, yet another opportunity for external consultants to cash in on the chaos of the misguided aged care reforms.

    As the primary advisor to the government, the Aged Care Sector Committee must shoulder the responsibility for the ongoing debacle that is Australian aged care. We’ve obviously got the wrong people giving the wrong advice.

    The Aged Care Road Map isn’t navigable.

    My Aged Care website is (still) a farrago of confusion, challenging for even the most tech-savvy punter.

    Our deregulated and ‘simplified’ pricing structure apparently not only baffles consumers, it even stumps managers who deal with it every day. Does the simply task of fielding an initial client inquiry really need to be handled by a dedicated call center? It’s not a great start to providing a ‘person centered care’ experience.

    These results confirm what aged care clients already know and providers just don’t understand: when you really need care it’s all about function, not form.

    People aren’t stupid: they know that care facilities run by managers with no clinical background and high level care without registered nurses just doesn’t make sense. And those home care survey results show that providers should find time for some self-examination in between their endless whining.

    New reforms, provider outrage, consumer dissatisfaction. Notice the repetition?

    The public need to tell government our navigators are lost and their road map leads nowhere. Doing nothing means getting more of the same.

  3. Rodney July 4, 2017 at 7:50 pm #

    Please Australian Ageing Agenda – let’s have some balanced reporting and not just a regurgitation of a self commissioned report about a piece of ‘research’ without even the slightest evidence of validity or robustness

    While the report sensationally quotes 78% of providers have a low level of financial knowledge, how many did this actually equate to? Certainly not 78% of the sector, which is how many in the community will interpret these statements now that you have published it as fact.

    Not once does it critique the true cause of many of the problems, poor government policy, over regulation of the market, unrealistic expectations, funding restrictions and a My Aged Care system that hasn’t worked since day 1.

    Could that be related to the millions of dollars provided by the commonwealth to KPMG to do their work for them such as the debacle of clinical indicators?

    Organisations such as KPMG have a vested interest in declaring the sector is doomed … it generates business, not least from the commonwealth to ‘fix’ their identified issues

    Confusing fee arrangements are forced upon the sector by government policy

    My Aged Care has been imposed upon the sector as the gatekeeper

    We are still seeing 3 month waits for ACAT assessment – AFTER getting through My Aged Care

    Providers cannot answer many questions about fees because they need to wait for a Centrelink Assessment that can take over a month to receive. There are so many variables to aged care fees it is impossible to quote figures without all the facts.

    I spend every day explaining the complexities of aged care to consumers who haven’t got a hope understanding the information provided by the government through My Aged Care

    I am all for improving the sector but please, lets have a balanced debate and not just another excuse to kick the sector for perceived “failures” when the whole system is fundamentally broken. Its always very easy to criticise from the multimillion dollar ivory tower …

  4. Shalla July 5, 2017 at 3:09 pm #

    Well put Rodney

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