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.
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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