••• seniors

For senior-living industry, transparency is key

As with nearly every industry, the senior-living market has been impacted greatly by the COVID-19 pandemic. A survey of 250 adults over age 65, conducted by LevLane Inc., and MarketVision Research Inc., provides insight into just what the industry needs to do in order to quell the fears of prospective residents.

The study found that 64% of those surveyed who had been considering a move to a senior-living community pre-COVID were still interested in moving in within the next five years and, of those, 17% were very interested. However, that leaves nearly 35% who have been scared off by the pandemic and are now much less interested in the prospect of moving to a community setting.

What can the senior-living industry do to reassure their audience? Talk to them. An overwhelming 73% of respondents said that they would be much more likely to move to a community that speaks openly about its COVID-19 protections and prevention methods within its communications, with 70% of respondents saying the following six messages/practices would be important to hear from the community: the facility is meeting/exceeding state and local guidelines for senior-living communities; it is meeting/exceeding all CDC requirements for senior-living communities; transparency regarding residents and staff who have tested positive for COVID-19; the stringency of its COVID-19 testing protocols for staff and visitors; information regarding community requirements for mask use and facial coverings; and the ability to safely distance.

••• utilities research

Monopoly or not, c-sat valuable to utilities

As reported by EurekAlert!, satisfied customers mean increased profits even for public utilities that don’t face competition, a recent study found.

Using data from U.S. public utility firms from 2001 to 2017, researchers found utilities – as currently regulated – have a cost-based incentive to deliver and improve their customers’ satisfaction. For the average utility in their sample, a one-unit (on the 1 to 100 point ACSI index) improvement in customer satisfaction decreases operating costs by $29 million overall, through lowering customer service, distribution and selling and general administrative costs to $3, $8 and $13 million per year, respectively.

Their findings run counter to prevailing assumptions that providing higher service quality raises utility system costs. They found “robust evidence” that customer satisfaction did not affect rates (prices per unit) or demand (unit sales volume). But they did find unambiguous evidence that it leads to profits only by reducing utility operating costs.

Efficiency gains coming from improved customer satisfaction, trust and goodwill could lead to greater acceptance of costly new technology initiatives that utilities want to introduce, researchers said.

The study, Customer Satisfaction and Firm Profits in Monopolies: A Study of Utilities, appeared in the Journal of Marketing Research.