Economics is all about data collection–lots and lots of data. To what end, you may ask? The idea is that if you have enough data on all possible responses in the market, you can probably develop models that will predict consequences of what you do right now. For instance, wouldn’t you like a model that lets you know the consequences of raising or lowering the prices you charge for goods and services? Wouldn’t it be great if the model’s predictions were accurate to the 99% confidence level? With the exception of Sergei Kochkin, most of us are not in a position to collect huge amounts of data, so we all need to thank MarkeTrak once in awhile for giving us guidance on the hearing aid side of our practices. But, we can and should be surveying our patients, probably more than we do. For many years, I have promoted the Satisfaction with Amplification in Daily Life (SADL) survey developed by Robyn Cox and associates in Memphis. It is an incredibly easy and helpful survey that patients and physicians love to look at, plus it absolutely helps us do a better job with our patients at follow-up visits from 1 month to 5 years post-fitting. In the process, you end up collecting a lot of data.
But wait, there’s more! What about those much-talked-about-but-never-found dissatisfied customers who either complain to everyone but you or leave your practice or both, eroding your brand irreparably in the process? And what about the old complaint box of yore? Does anyone still use those? Does anyone ever check the boxes? It seems that social networking is the solution to ferreting out complaints and complainers, according to advice to “Keep the Bad” from an Intel conference on social networking. For some reason, the white goods appliance industry is leading the pack on getting the goods on Bad. Whirlpool has set up up Facebook pages for each of its brands (Maytag, KitchenAid, Whirlpool) where visitors publicly ”let loose…… in discussion threads like ‘Failed Diswasher‘ and ‘Defective Dishwashers.’” They even have a “senior manager of social and emerging media” to follow the threads and respond. That has got to be a tough job.
Huh. I decided to see whether the hearing aid industry was keeping up on this one. I referred it to hhm.org’s own “manager of social and emerging media” (MSEM) – our own Judy Huch, AuD MSEM. She went out on Facebook and did the research. Horrors — none of the hearing aid brands or models even have individual Facebook pages, much less “Keep the bad” sections where complaints can be aired and collected as data. How did we get behind dishwashers when it comes to data collection? I hope we’re ahead of garbage disposals.
I say it’s high time that our manufacturers create MSEM positions and while we’re at it, I suppose each of our practices had better get people in those positions as well, just so long as it’s not me. Actually, I do have a practice blog site and email newsletter through which I get more than my share of complaints, which I air publicly on occasion. So far, it hasn’t hurt anything but my ego and it does seem to benefit the practice. I say let the data flow: bring on the Bad so we can do more Good!
- Cox RM, Alexander GC. (1999). Measuring satisfaction with amplification in daily life: The SADL scale. Ear and Hearing, 20(4): 306-319.↵
- Hosford-Dunn & Halpern. Clinical Application of the SADL Scale in Private Practice. Parts I & II. JAAA (2001).↵
- Consumer Complaints Made Easy. Maybe Too Easy. By RANDALL STROSS. Published: May 28, 2011 http://www.nytimes.com/2011/05/29/technology/29digi.html?ref=todayspaper ↵