Setting The Terms of Reference For The Brand of Hearing Healthcare, Part 2

Hearing Health & Technology Matters
April 5, 2016

geoffcoolingEditor’s Note: Today’s post from Geoff Cooling is Part 2 on the Brand of Hearing Healthcare


Collaboration Across the Profession


In order to change the brand of hearing healthcare, we as a profession internationally need to collaborate. This is something that needs to be done through professional organisations across the world. I have chosen the term hearing healthcare profession for a reason. Customers and prospect customers don’t give a flying proverbial for our qualification. They work on the basis that the person in front of them is qualified, that’s the default start point.

This qualification issue is divisive and is used to divide and conquer. We don’t need division, we need collaboration to shape a future, or we won’t have one. No one in the hearing healthcare profession is safe from the march of technology and innovation. The way to ensure we survive and thrive is through the value in the process that we provide.

We need to come up with a strategy to drive our brand collaboratively. We need to take clear steps to ensure we influence the terms of reference for that brand. It can be done and we need to do it, we need to drive trust. Trust will come from value delivered. But how do we do it?


Money Grabbers Protecting Themselves?


The main problem with how we are perceived is not related to cost, although many people get caught up in the cost/price issue. It is the tool that many of our detractors use to beat us with. We need to change the narrative, we don’t need to justify cost, we need to prove value.

Our value, the sense of the value we provide, has been badly eroded.


We have allowed this to happen because, as a profession, we have not been smart enough to address it properly.


We need to address the value issue if we are to change the brand of hearing healthcare. However, it is a catch-22. If we do, it is seen as the money grabbers protecting their businesses.

Our customers need to do it.

Back to my original statement: we can’t set the terms of reference for our brand, however, we can take every step possible to influence the people that do. We can also ask those people to help us and, in most cases, they will be happy to do so. The proof of value delivered lies in the hands of the people we help every day.

The key to changing the brand of the profession is our customers.


Social Proof


Social proof is the most powerful form of marketing. In essence, it is the proof provided by people who have purchased a product or a service. It is a review of that product, or service, and the individual’s experience with it. Social proof as a concept has always been around; it used to be called word-of-mouth.

Social proof like many things has evolved over time and moved online.



Social proof explained. Image courtesy


Social proof is something that we take very seriously. We do so because we understand the value of social proof to our customers. I have written elsewhere about social proof and its hierarchy. In essence there are written testimonials at the bottom, written testimonials with an image of the person in the middle and video testimonials at the top.

We use the video testimonials on customer’s sites to influence the viewers of those sites. While we also use the design, the copy and value proposition statements to do. It is the video testimonials that really validate the copy and statements we make in the minds of viewers. They do so because they are real people explaining their experiences honestly.


The video testimonials are hugely powerful, emotive, and help viewers gain trust in the business. They also bolster the authority of the business.


In essence, testimonials help prove the value of the business. Cost will always be an issue, however, when value is proven and understood, it is less grudging.

We need to come up with a strategy to drive the brand of hearing healthcare collaboratively. We need to take clear steps to ensure we influence the terms of reference for that brand. We need to change the narrative. Video testimonials from customers on association sites would be a good start, but it isn’t the complete answer. Then together, we can work out the rest.




geoffcoolingGeoffrey Cooling is a regular contributor to HHTM and is the co-founder of Audiology Engine, a company offering web services to hearing healthcare practices. He is a qualified hearing aid dispenser in Ireland and worked in private practice. Following private practice he began work for a major hearing instrument manufacturer. Geoffrey has written about online strategies and business development for hearing healthcare on the Just Audiology Stuff blog since 2009. He has a passion for futurism, technology, online marketing and business development.

  1. Mr. Cooling,
    As a hard of hearing person who has worn bilateral hearing aids for many years, I am dismayed that you miss the “hearing healthcare” issue completely. It is not about talking a good game, or convincing customers to say good things about you. It is about providing actual substantive: Hearing.Health.Care.
    Your profession has a bad rap because for too many years your practitioners have focused entirely on getting an audiogram and fitting the “gizmo”. The reason dissatisfaction with the cost and “services” of hearing health care “providers” runs so high, is that the services provided are so woefully and tragically limited. You simply do not provide adequate information needed for successful fittings. Ethical professionals who truly value their customers/clients communication and health issues need to practice a holistic treatment approach.
    One prime (and tragic) example is the common practice of fitting someone with severe to profound loss, then letting them out of the door without providing information on visual or tactile emergency alert systems. You collect your fee only to have your client perish in a night time house fire. Ethical? Moral? Adequate service for the thousands of dollars fee you charge?
    If you are really interested in salvaging your professions’ reputation, I suggest you and your colleagues review an article in the most recent Hearing Loss Magazine: “Hearing Tracker and HLAA. Partnering for Best Practices in Hearing Care” by Cynthia Compton-Conley. She explains the issue far better and in greater detail than I can in this small space.
    Talking a good game is not good enough. Practicing the Profession ethically and well would be an excellent and long overdue step in the right direction.

    1. Charlea,

      I can understand your anger, if you take this article in isolation it may seem that I am lobbying our profession to talk a good game. However, you have mis-understood the idea of this article, this article isn’t about pulling the wool over the eyes of anyone, nor is it about talking a good game. I have written and lobbied for years within the profession for changing standards of practice and care.

      I passionately believe that good hearing professionals deliver all and more of what you have outlined. In fact I know many that do. That is why we set up a site called to give honest advice on hearing aids and hearing care providers. So that people new to the experience of acquiring good hearing care understand what that is.

      I understand that there is many dissatisfied customers because of poor service and customer care. However, I know there are many customers who are exceptionally pleased with the service and care they have been provided. When I talk about taking action to set the terms of reference for the brand of hearing healthcare, I am talking about setting out standards of practice and care that deliver an outstanding customer experience. I am talking about shaping how people think of us through hard work and delivery of our promise, I am not talking about smoke and mirrors.

      Good hearing health professionals deliver a level of care and service every day that changes people’s lives. Our profession in order to remain relevant needs to both communicate that and aspire to it. In essence, that is the point of my article.

    2. Just out of curiosity, do you fancy writing an article outlining your concerns as a consumer? What you feel needs to change and why? It would be published on one of our sites, I have had a few European and American hearing advocates publish similar stuff on one of my sites.

  2. Hearing Tracker is in the process of inviting audiologists to opt-in to a free promotional program. [Hearing Health Care professionals] will need to prove that they are considering HAT with every patient, following best practices when implementing HAT solutions, and meeting each person’s four needs:
    1) face-to-face communication
    2) the reception of media
    3) telecommunications
    4) alerting needs

    I absolutely will write rave social media reviews for hearing health care professionals who do the 4 things listed above. Right now, there is no professional available to truly help with most of these needs.

    1. Rebecca,

      I think Hearing Tracker is an amazing site for both good hearing health professionals and consumers. I also think the value of that site to both will only increase. I would ask you a question though, why do you think that there no professional who can meet your needs? I personally know a dozen in the UK and Ireland that deliver to all four needs as a matter of course. In fact most of the hearing professionals and Independent Practices we deal with are big advocates for wireless devices and assistive listening technology where needed and stock the same as a matter of course. Is this not the case where you live and do you think it is a widespread issue for consumers in your area?

Leave a Reply