Last week I blogged that my use of speech in noise tests as a routine part of my testing protocol better assures me that I am delivering what the client actually came to see me for in the first place.
This week I would like to spend some time explaining what I think that is and therefore what we offer. If you buy a power drill you really want holes,not a drill. So the same would follow with a pair of hearing aids. What you want is the better hearing you believe they will deliver, not the aids themselves.
This can mean many things. To some it may help with one or two aspects of their life, better hearing in business meetings or at that business lunch in a busy restaurant. To others it may be a great help to hear the grandchildren better. For some it may be a life saver holding at bay suspicion of others, increasing isolation, fear of human contact and even dementia.
But for all of the above the device is not the thing, the thing is the improved hearing and thereby quality of life that the thing will bring.
So for several years now we have been shifting our focus from emphasis on the hearing aid as a commodity, to emphasis on the client as a user of our service the purpose of which is to deliver better hearing. We want to provide our service users with the best possible experience we are able to and we want to achieve for them the end result of better hearing.
In his book, Marketing in an Audiology Practice, Brian Taylor identifies six stages of the patient experience,reproduced here in the diagram. and that they work in a perpetuating cycle. What this has meant to us in our practice is a planned improvement in all that we do in stages 2 to 5, and there is good evidence that this is in fact delivering better outcomes for our service users.
It also means that we have to do less specifically on stage 1 to keep people coming in. If we give people a good in clinic experience they tell others who in turn come in for that same experience, they tell others and so it goes on.
So what have we done to improve the client experience in stages 2 to 5? This is an ongoing process and the following is some of what we have achieved so far.
Improved the physical environment. Shopfront signage and display is clear, modern, well designed and well illuminated. Reception is clean, freshly painted, comfortable, well branded with appropriate secondary signage and well illuminated. The audiology room is sound damped, uncluttered, modern and well equipped with the Otosphere integrated testing and fitting system. Our ear care clinic is spacious, bright, and fully equipped with video otoscope, microscope for ear wax removal by micro suction. Clients respond very positively in this environment and most comment on how pleasurable it is for them to be with us. Images are there to see on the relevant pages of this website.
We use an internet based practice management system known as Blueprint. This allows us to keep excellent records of all your visits to us, of all your test records and all financial transactions with you. It prompts us to contact you when we should. It helps us to track your orders and any repairs. It saves us time which we can then devote to you.
We constantly improve our own knowledge of hearing aid testing technology and practice. Val and Greg attend practice development events regularly and from each brings back at least one major new procedure or idea to implement in the practice.
How will this help you?
The improved armoury that all of this gives us allows careful about improving stages 2 to 5 to enrich your experience as a client. Here are just a few of the things you will get from us that you might not get elsewhere.
Stage 2 Phone scheduling
After you have spoken to Val on the phone and set up your first appointment you will receive a letter confirming the appointment, a pre assessment questionnaire and an informative booklet on the subject of hearing and hearing aids.
Stage 3 Arrival
You will be greeted in premises which are brighter, cleaner, better designed, with better branding, more comfortable furniture. Fresh flowers. You will be greeted by name.
Stage 4 Testing and recommendation
You will benefit from, Video otoscopy, excess wax removal if needed by micro suction, speech testing in quiet and in noise.The red flag matrix. The client orientated scale of improvement where we deal with the specifics of the better hearing that you want. A flexible trial system which will allow you to take home and test drive your recommended hearing aid system.
Stage 5 Fitting and purchase
Verification of fit speech testing, Real ear measurement with recorded and live speech mapping.
Stage 6 Follow up
Will be programmed, will take place every 6 months. In production now and about to be launched is a printed individual hearing care diary for all hearing aid users to record these appointments. We look forward to the latest version of Blueprint which will generate an automatic text or email reminder of your six monthly appointments.
It strikes me as I read back through this on edit, that I have hardly mentioned the hearing aids. This is not to undermine their worth. They are technological marvels and underpin any attempt to provide better hearing. But I would take this as a given (the bottom tier on a Maslow type hierarchy of needs).
I also notice that when taking clients down the five steps they too seem to place less emphasis on the hearing aid. We spend relatively less time discussing style and price. The more significant aspect being advice on technology level flows naturally from the full test battery and here I refer right back to where I began, and to the Red Flag Matrix blog.
Relatively more time is spent discussing expectations, how they might need to be tempered in light of assessment results, the interpretation of the test battery and outcomes. I can now with some confidence claim to be more than a dealer in a commodity. I truly deliver the better hearing experience people are seeking with a small but excellent team in a centre of excellence. And it is a work in progress ; we are implementing new things all of the time.
Why not come in and give us a try.