The Business of Hearing Health Care: What Does Your Patient Want?

Hearing Health & Technology Matters
July 21, 2015

By Geoffrey Cooling

geoffrey cooling

Geoffrey Cooling

So what does your customer (patient) want? That seems like a silly question; they want to hear better, which is why they have come to you. In essence that is probably the core answer; however, humans aren’t as simple as that. There are many more needs and wants at play in their decision to come to your office.

I don’t pretend to be all knowing—a guru! Even typing that word hurt my sensibilities, any gobshite (an Irish technical term) who describes themselves as a guru should be forced to stand in a corner while his or her audience laughs at them.

While I don’t claim to be all knowing, I think I do have some of the tools to investigate customer needs and wants in a deeper manner. I would like to do that over a series of articles and I would like help from all of you to do it.

If we are to survive, we must disrupt or die. We must be innovative in our thinking. We must understand and analyze our customer value proposition.

Why it Matters

It matters because we need a deeper understanding of our customers and prospective customers if we are to continue in business. Our business is open to major disruption; we know this to be true. Many people across the world are eyeing our business with disruption in mind.

One of the key factors in effective disruption is a deep understanding of the consumer that you are targeting. Understanding them in order that you can design a product or service that meets their needs over and above how the current model delivers.

We Don’t Deliver

We don’t fully deliver to the consumer needs; I am not talking about efficacy of fit or customer experience. I am talking about delivering what the market, the consumer wants. If we did, there would be no PSAP market; it wouldn’t exist because there would be no need for it. There would be no market disruptors launching successful innovations that our consumers want to purchase. We would be fat and happy with prospect Patients banging down our door to purchase solutions.

Our Marketing Sucks

As a whole within our industry, generically speaking, our marketing sucks. I mean it really, really sucks. Most marketing is based on technology, features and services, when it should be based on outcomes that address underlying pains.

Have we really stopped to think in a deeper manner what those desired outcomes are? Not just what they are, but also the deeper psychological meaning to them within the prospect’s consciousness?

Yes, no… maybe?

The Value Proposition Canvas


Value Proposition Canvas. Image courtesy

So I would like to use a tool called the Value Proposition Canvas to explore the value proposition of our business. The value proposition canvas is split into sections to record different ideas around the consumer. If used properly it will allow us to identify a complete picture of an extended value proposition.

The six sections of the tool include three for the customer profile and three for the proposition analysis. They are as follows:

Customer Jobs

Describe what a specific customer segment is trying to get done. It could be the tasks they are trying to perform and complete, the problems they are trying to solve, or the needs they are trying to satisfy.

  • What functional jobs are you helping your customer get done? (e.g. perform or complete a specific task, solve a specific problem, …)
  • What social jobs are you helping your customer get done? (e.g. trying to look good, gain power or status, …)
  • What emotional jobs are you helping your customer get done? (e.g. aesthetics, feel good, security, …)
  • What basic needs are you helping your customer satisfy? (e.g. communication, sex, …)

Besides trying to get a core job done, your customer performs ancillary jobs in different roles. Describe the jobs your customer is trying to get done as:

Rank each job according to its significance to your customer. Is it crucial or is it trivial? For each job indicate how often it occurs.

Outline in which specific context a job is done, because that may impose constraints or limitations (e.g. while driving, outside …).


Describe negative emotions, undesired costs and situations, and risks that your customer experiences or could experience before, during, and after getting the job done.

  • What does your customer find too costly? (e.g. takes a lot of time, costs too much money, requires substantial efforts, …)
  • What makes your customer feel bad? (e.g. frustrations, annoyances, things that give them a headache, …)
  • How are current solutions under-performing for your customer? (e.g. lack of features, performance, malfunctioning, …)
  • What are the main difficulties and challenges your customer encounters? (e.g. understanding how things work, difficulties getting things done, resistance, …)
  • What negative social consequences does your customer encounter or fear? (e.g. loss of face, power, trust, or status, …)
  • What risks does your customer fear? (e.g. financial, social, technical risks, or what could go aw-fully wrong, …)
  • What’s keeping your customer awake at night?(e.g. big issues, concerns, worries, …)
  • What common mistakes does your customer make? (e.g. usage mistakes, …)
  • What barriers are keeping your customer from adopting solutions? (e.g. upfront investment costs, learning curve, resistance to change …)

Rank each pain according to the intensity it represents for your customer. Is it very intense or is it very light? For each pain indicate how often it occurs.


Describe the benefits your customer expects, desires or would be surprised by. This includes functional utility, social gains, positive emotions, and cost savings.

  • Which savings would make your customer happy?(e.g. in terms of time, money and effort, …)
  • What outcomes does your customer expect and what would go beyond his/her expectations? (e.g. quality level, more of something, less of something, …)
  • How do current solutions delight your customer? (e.g. specific features, performance, quality, …)

Stay tuned next week for Part 2 of Geoffrey’s take on the Business of Hearing Healthcare

*Featured image courtesy flickr via Brian Solis


Geoffrey Cooling is the co-founder of Audiology Engine, a company offering web services to hearing healthcare. 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.

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