Monday, 20 February 2012

Social Care Businesses: Welcome to the Real World

There is a general rule of thumb in customer service training that says if a customer receives bad service they will tell, on average, ten people. Yet if they receive exceptionally they are likely to only tell two or three people.

The advent of the internet has made the audience for peoples thoughts on a service much wider than just relatives, friends and acquaintances. Sites such as Trip Advisor offer people the chance to vent their frustrations publically and have become a first port of call for many planning a holiday. Would you choose to stay in a hotel that had consistently bad reviews?

With the creation of The Good Care Guide ( social care providers will need to be much more aware of customer service skills and the potential impact of giving bad service to care users and their relatives. It is not now just a matter of providing efficient care and support but the manner in which it is delivered also becomes important.

In one sense this new website means that social care providers are catching up with most other business sectors in the UK. Businesses will now have to ensure their ‘public facing’ image is as good as their image to the local authorities and care regulators who currently hold the balance of power over what is and what is not a good service. Care providing businesses are entering a phase of new opportunities to promote their company yet it is a phase that could be fraught with danger for those who choose to ignore the importance of this change.

Comment has been made that one malicious comment could ruin a business, that is certainly true however the issue has to be that providers will need to monitor the comments they are receiving and act accordingly. Business owners will need to be much more active in the image of their company and be prepared to make instant adjustments to their service delivery.

At some point it will be inevitable that Local Authority commissioning will also be influenced by the guide. It would be hard for any authority to justify using any care provider who constantly received critical reviews which will naturally mean a reduction in the number of referrals, by the same token anyone self-funding care will be unlikely to even consider visiting a poorly rated care provider.

The one question mark over the new web service is how the Care Quality Commission will use it and what happens if a provider is constantly criticised for its service yet it meets all the requirements of the essential standards of quality and safety.

That aside there will be an increasing need for social care businesses to look to increasing their focus on customer service and marketing skills in order to compete in this new environment.

Social Care businesses are entering into the real world of customer choice, customer service and marketing and those who will survive are those who adjust sooner rather than later.