By Damien Edmonds (4 minute read). Shutterstock image #318101066.

Australia’s aged services are transitioning from ‘compliance with accreditation’ to ‘consumer directed care’. This year the industry is heading towards assessment (in July 2019) against the new 2018 Aged Care Quality Standards. The new standards stipulate that organisational performance should now be assessed- not just against practices and processes for care delivery- but also against outcomes achieved for consumers (examining the evidence of consumer experience).

Number six of the eight Quality Standards that make up the new Aged Care Quality Standards is ‘Feedback and complaints’ and number one assesses consumer dignity and choice. Importantly, each of the eight Quality Standards is assessed in three parts, including evidence of consumer experience.

The new standards represent a fundamental shift in approach from reviewing process to reviewing outcome evaluation and they bring the review into alignment with the review of commercial care and service industries, helping shape the industry into one of consumer-directed care.

In the wider field of marketing the mobile revolution, changes to the internet and social networking have all driven two-way communications, essentially creating a fast-acting feedback loop. An efficient analysis of customer feedback allows organisations to improve the quality of their services and, because customers’ needs can change quickly, responding in good time enables organisations to stay ahead of the competition.

At Edmonds Marketing we believe that the pace of change today means that if an organisation doesn’t collect and respond to feedback it will stagnate – meaning it won’t innovate or grow. Being responsive to both consumer and stakeholder feedback is therefore at the heart of an organisation’s potential for improvement. We recommend our clients adopt a ‘feedback loop’ into their management process and communications, delivering customer information to their CEO and C-Suite.

For example, one of our clients heard that some residents were finding it difficult to air their concerns. Our client responded implementing a monthly ‘Town hall’ meeting which would provide the Executive team to present news and updates and allow time for residents and family members to raise questions and air concerns. Doing this set up a process for ongoing improvement and encouraged open communication, enabling clients to be more satisfied with the overall service. Creating a window for a regular meeting also meant that the CEO and his senior team received more regular client feedback and was better able to adapt services to fit client needs. Importantly, this change was not a short-term reaction to a complaint but was implemented over the long term.

We also recommend organisations train and empower employees to respond positively to customer feedback, simultaneously representing the brand values of the organisation. They need to ensure every touchpoint (or person) responds rapidly to customer or stakeholder concerns and escalates feedback through the organisation.

One organisation we worked with (and who was expanding their services in the disability sector) set up and expanded a more active and responsive Facebook page for the members of their community. This page has provided them with a lot of information about the services the community responded to most positively and the activities they found most engaging, allowing them to develop and prioritise popular and helpful services.

In our experience organisations need to improve customer relationships as much as possible to have greater engagement with their audiences and build awareness of their brand. In fact, if organisations show willing and treat an unhappy customer above and what they expect, that customer can become an advocate for the brand, speak on its behalf and promote its services to interested parties – a highly effective way to develop more customer loyalty and support growth.

For further information, or to chat through how your organisation can improve managing its feedback and complaints, please contact Edmonds Marketing on 07 3175 9905.