I live in a friendly, small town and have a habit of saying “hello” or something upbeat as I walk by people. However, lately I have unhappily noticed that more and more people look down, don’t return my smile, or continue with a blank stare as if I do not exist.
I understand that there are cultural differences and potential dangers that come into play when being greeted by strangers. So habits are developed to protect oneself and/or to stay in a personal comfort zone. I also understand that these habits, when taken into the workplace, can negatively affect the marketing of your senior care business. In fact, I have been made to feel uncomfortable (unintentionally) in numerous facilities .
The eyes of your staff members are an important communication and sales tool. Whether seen, or not seen, the eyes speak to visitors, family members and residents. They reveal thoughts, emotions, attitudes and intentions. Here are some the impressions they may leave.
- Approachable — Unapproachable
- Warm and friendly — Reserved or aloof
- Confidence — Lack of confidence
- Trustworthy — Hiding something or suspicious
- Comfortable — Uncomfortable
- You are important — You are not important (or a nuisance)
- I want to help — I don’t want to help
Make Staff Members Aware Of Eye Contact
I believe management should make good eye contact a part of their business and senior care cultures. First, staff members should be trained on what good eye contact is, and its benefits. Let them know what’s appropriate, what’s too much, what’s not enough.
Then have staff members put the training into practice with the management team. Give them feedback and encouragement. Build their confidence. Help them develop a style that makes them the most comfortable.
Then, make it easy for them to be successful when they are with you and a prospect, resident or family member. For example:
During a tour, as you pass Maria, a shy housekeeper, in the hallway, you could say, “Mrs. Smith, I’d like to introduce you to a lovely young lady with a beautiful smile. (Marie can’t help but look up and smile.) Doesn’t she light up? This is Maria and she is one of our squeaky clean housekeepers. Marie, Mrs. Smith’s mom can use our help…”
Be Natural, Don’t Force It
One last point. Making eye contact because you have to make eye contact will make everyone feel uncomfortable. Instead, I would rather the process be driven by interest, concern, passion, compassion, or good manners. These traits should be strengths of caring staff members and can help them to stay in their comfort zone.
In addition, if they see good eye contact happening all around them as part of the business and senior care cultures, it will be considered the norm. And, with management guidance, staff members can practice until it becomes natural to them, turning their eyes into a marketing assets.
More Eye Contact Marketing Tips
For clients of our Assisted Living Marketing Guild service, the following Tips provide more recommendations.