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How Tech-Forward Resident Experiences Impact Sales and Occupancy: A Webinar Recap 

How can a tech-forward resident experience help communities attract and retain residents? That was the topic of Icon’s latest sponsored Grow Your Occupancy webinar. To answer this question, the host interviewed Icon COO Mary Giangrasse and representatives of The Clare, a Chicago senior living community. Here’s a recap of their conversation.

Turn Prospects into Residents by Showcasing Your Tech

2024 is the start of “peak 65”: a four-year wave with the most Americans reaching retirement age in US history. Many of these older adults have used laptops, smartphones, and smart home devices for years. Communities are preparing for an influx of tech-savvy residents – and they expect a swell of interest in their available tech.

That’s why The Clare showcases its tech to prospective residents and families. For Beth, an active resident, that had a huge impact on her decision to move. 

Beth loved The Clare’s interactive furniture placement tool. It helped her visualize how to settle into a new space – especially coming from a larger single-family home. And internet was included in her monthly resident fee, with a major bandwidth increase over her current internet plan.

Ultimately, The Clare’s tech-first sales and marketing approach swayed Beth to become a resident. Experiences like hers are only becoming more common.

Use Senior Living Tech to Simplify Move In and Onboarding

Between a new living space, new faces, and a new routine, moving into a senior living community can be a bit overwhelming. But technology can help ease the anxiety.

At The Clare, each new resident works with a move-in coordinator to set up their internet and landline connections. The coordinator also helps them get set up on Icon’s resident portal within their first few days. From here, they can view dining menus, register for events, submit work orders, and access the resident and staff directory – all in one place. That’s a huge improvement over a paper-based approach. A stack of papers to sift through can create more overwhelm, not less.

Beth has seen the benefit of this move-in approach firsthand. She’s noticed how much new residents love the digital resident directory, for instance. It makes it easier to remember names and faces at the dinner table or a pickleball game. 

It’s also simple to stay informed on community happenings. Residents get text, email and paper notifications about every town hall or resident advisory council meeting. If they can’t attend in person, they can access a digital recording through their portal.

Thanks to The Clare’s tech-first move-in and onboarding model, the community can set every resident up for success from day one. That strong first impression can go a long way toward boosting satisfaction and retention

Keep Tabs on Digital Preferences with Resident Engagement Surveys

Although many residents use technology, not everyone uses it in the same way. It’s important to have tools that help you identify residents’ comfort levels and cater to those needs. Resident engagement surveys can help a lot here.

For instance, maybe a survey tells you a resident with shaky hands can’t use their smartphone to access their event calendar. So you might put the calendar onto a large TV screen in their room.

Or perhaps a resident indicates a preference for email-based community updates instead of text. Now, you can share information in a channel they’ll actually use.

It’s important to gather these preferences early on – ideally in the first 30 to 90 days. But it’s also important to conduct regular pulse checks. On the back end, you can use reporting and analytics tools to identify community trends. And don’t be afraid of negative feedback: you can use it to guide any changes you make and improve engagement overall.

3 Best Practices to Create a Tech-Forward Resident Experience

So far, we’ve looked at a few real-world benefits of a tech-forward resident experience. But what’s the best way to create one? These three tips can help:

  1. Respect residents’ tech preferences: We’ve said this before, but it’s worth repeating; individual preferences matter. Residents who use iPads every day, for instance, may still prefer to receive paper communications for essential reminders. Without a tailored approach, your tech program’s implementation can easily hit roadblocks.
  2. Provide ongoing training, education, and support: Regular training sessions with your tech team can help residents get up to speed with new digital tools. Walk-in office hours can provide one-on-one support. And don’t discount peer education, too. With a resident user committee, for instance, folks can learn about tech from other older adults.
  3. Share resident success stories on social media: Platforms like YouTube and TikTok can help you share the community experience with prospective residents and families. On The Clare’s YouTube channel, for example, its annual Dragon Boat Race video is always a hit – both inside and outside the community.

With the right approach, you can turn residents into evangelists who will spread the word about your tech-enabled community.

Choose the Right Tech for Your Community

Tech can help you draw in new residents, impress families, and encourage folks to stay in your community. But every community has different needs. That’s why it’s important to work with your senior living tech vendor to build the right stack for residents and staff.

At Icon, we work with senior living operators to understand which processes they want to streamline and where they’ve faced roadblocks. We offer tailored staff training programs for each of our products, and we help them find ways to get residents excited about new tech. The outcome: a tech-first resident experience with a huge ROI.If you’d like to learn more about our approach, let’s talk – we’d love to hear from you.

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