A good senior living call center rep does more than just answer phones. They respond to concerns with empathy, connect callers to the right people and information, and move prospective residents closer to a sale.
We talked to some of Enquire Solution’s most successful call center managers and reps, and they shared the secrets to their success. Here, we share them with you.
1. They are good listeners.
The first job of a good call center rep is to work to find out what’s most important to each individual who calls into their community. Louis R. says that the most important part of being a call center rep is “being a good listener in order to understand the people you talk to.”
Here are some ways to listen well:
- Listen actively. Rather than just remaining silent when the caller is talking, interject insightful, on-point questions.
- For example, you might say, What are some of the things you are struggling with at home?
- Make the other person feel good about themselves. People won’t talk to you if they don’t feel comfortable. See Secret #2 below.
- Cooperate with the caller. Work with your prospective residents rather than pushing them too aggressively.
- For example, never interrupt or dominate the conversation. Instead, use phrases like, I understand or I know what you mean.
- Make suggestions. Guide your callers through the sales process.
- For example, if a prospect doesn’t have time to talk, suggest other times to call back: How is 2 pm or 6 pm tomorrow after work?
2. They make people feel comfortable.
Along with listening closely, successful call center reps work to make callers feel comfortable. Brian J. uses humor to connect with tense callers.
“I usually try to share a laugh with a prospect and make them feel at ease and in the right hands, especially if they sound stressed out.”
Laren W. makes personal connections, both to set the caller at ease and to help their community stand out from others.
“I like to talk to prospects and find a way to relate to them and connect with them on a personal level. Finding a loved one’s retirement community can be stressful and hectic. Callers may be talking to numerous communities in a day, so we need to stand out and make them feel comfortable. This helps make the conversation more memorable.”
For anxious callers, Christine W. proposes an informal meeting instead of the higher-pressure tour.
“When people call, most of them have fears and anxiety. It’s often their first call to a senior living community. I love inviting people to come in for coffee and conversation. I let them know that we are here to assist and provide a roadmap for their loved one’s future. That helps to set them at ease.”
3. They’re conversational.
Though call center staff work initially from a script, the most successful are as conversational with callers as they would be with an acquaintance.
Enquire’s Director of Operations Dylan Watts says this ease grows out of regular, dedicated practice.
"My veteran call center staff can freestyle from the script very naturally. It takes some practice, but once it becomes muscle memory, it’s easy to be conversational on a call. The more they practice, the stronger that muscle becomes.”
He gives a good example of how this freestyling might look.
Script version: Why are you calling today?
Conversational version: So what’s going on with your loved one? What has changed that sparked your search for a community?
4. They guide the caller.
The decision to go into senior living isn’t an easy one. While it’s important to listen and make sure callers feel comfortable, heard, and participatory, it’s also important to offer gentle guidance. This helps callers feel like they are in expert hands.
“We move with a purpose. My best reps can talk about weather, gardening, or other personal interests while also funneling the caller toward the objective of a tour.”
Brandon E. uses a “gatekeeper” sentence to take the lead in the conversation:
“The idea behind a “gatekeeper” sentence is to stop their train of thought and get them in the mode of answering your questions so that you can help them. For example, Can I ask you some questions to make sure I get you the correct information? If this is done correctly the caller lets me guide them, and I start directing them toward the next best step for them.”
Chante J. gives further insight into language she uses to guide callers toward a tour. She notes,
“I always like to say, What I recommend next that will be best for you is to schedule a time to come visit us. This direction typically works for all calls.”
Chante has had great success with this technique, scheduling 106 tours in a single month.
5. They share their own stories.
Storytelling is a great way to get Baby Boomers’ and other seniors’ attention, says Watts. “Sharing stories helps callers understand that staff relates to them, to see that we’re all on the same page.”
Here’s a true story that provides insight into the culture of a community. A rep might tell this story to an adult child to put their mind at ease. It illustrates -- better than any price list or amenity sheet -- that everyone in the community will work together to take care of a caller’s parent.
6. They know when to pause.
While talking and listening are important, effective call center staff know when to take a deep breath and allow a little pause in the conversation.
Brandon E. says,
“A pause in the right place can redirect an off-track call towards a tour. Try the pause, it really works!”
7. They have a strong closing line.
All the other strategies can fall flat if a call center rep doesn’t have a strong closing line. It should be natural and conversational while also being honed and crafted.
Brandon E. says that the key to his success is continually working on his closing line.
“Practice saying your go-to line with confidence -- on the drive to work, in the shower, anytime. While simply asking for a tour is a good start, a precise, carefully worded close will yield even better results.”
Looking for more on what makes a successful call center? Check out our blog on how your senior living phone team can help you drive growth.