by Allan Vinther
More than 1.5 billion people (almost 20% of the world’s population) have hearing loss. In fact, hearing loss is the third most common chronic physical condition that people experience, behind only arthritis and heart disease. Having hearing loss is twice as common as having conditions like diabetes or cancer.
However, even though a tremendous number of people are experiencing hearing loss, many people avoid going to get tested and fitted for hearing aids. Less than one in three (30% ) of adults aged 70 and older with hearing loss have ever tried hearing aids. Among younger people (ages 20-69) with hearing loss, only 16% have ever tried hearing aids. It appears there’s an untapped market of potential patients that you could attract to your clinic, doesn’t it? However, challenges exist in attracting new clients and prospects.
Perhaps you haven’t made a proactive effort to attract new business. Or there’s significant competition in the area, and it can be challenging to convince prospective patients to choose your shop over the other options. Fortunately, we have proven tips to help you attract new business and retain existing patients:
Do regular community outreach
Conduct free hearing screenings out in the community. Generate leads and drive more traffic to your clinics by using a tablet-based screener, like Auditdata’s Engage, to conduct hearing screenings at community locations and events in your area. Since the tablet-based screener is portable and easy to use, it’s an ideal tool to use at health and wellness fairs, film screenings, theater productions, road races, sporting events, senior center activities, Veterans’ Clubs, and more.
Speak to community members about the importance of hearing health, and the consequences of untreated hearing loss. This is a great way to meet (and engage with) prospective patients, answer questions, overcome objections, and explain the many benefits of hearing aids. Explain that the portable hearing screener is quick, easy, and accurate, and that people can get screened in just a few minutes – without an appointment.
If the screener indicates that someone has a hearing loss, encourage them to come to your shops for further evaluation and a suitable solution. Using Engage together with Auditdata Manage allows you to easily book appointments, even from remote locations.
Differentiate yourself from the competition
Offer personalized service. It’s important to recognize that audiology is not a “one size fits all” endeavor. Each patient has their own individual needs and level of hearing loss. It’s critical that you don’t just “go through the motions” and conduct the same tests – and offer the same solutions – to all clients.
When you provide a customized experience for your patients, it increases satisfaction, loyalty, and retention. Additionally, it can help differentiate your clinic from the competition.
Make your clients feel special throughout the entire journey. Make it easy for them to schedule an appointment with your clinicians. Greet them warmly when they walk through the door.
Consider making notes about each patient’s family and hobbies in your practice management system (in addition to notes about their hearing loss) so you can ask about their children or grandchildren, or talk about their photography, bird watching, or knitting passion. Demonstrate that you see and appreciate the whole person, not just their ears, and show that you’re committed to exceeding their expectations.
Build trust. Approximately 50% of the patients who want to buy a solution don’t do so because they fear the possible risks associated with that purchase. Conversely, nearly 75% of buyers who see personal value in buying a product make the purchase. Train your clinicians to work hard to overcome each patient’s fear of risk and other common objections (e.g., the hearing aids are too expensive, they’re too big, they’re just one more thing to worry about). To do this successfully, your clinicians need to build trust by connecting with individuals on a personal level and understanding what motivated them to visit your clinic. It’s also essential to get patients to trust in your clinicians’ knowledge, expertise, diagnosis and counsel. You’ll need to spend time and energy to build trust with each individual.
Try to understand each person’s unique perspective. Be sympathetic to their concerns and objections. Be authentic and honest. Find common ground to make them feel more comfortable. Share success stories of patients who overcame similar circumstances.
Offer convenient hours. One of the smartest things you can do to expand your client base is to offer convenient, flexible hours. Recognize that not all current or prospective patients can visit a hearing clinic between 9am-5pm during the weekdays.
Expand your hours and offer regular evening and/or weekend appointments to attract the younger, professional crowd, as well as others who might work, volunteer, or care for kids/grandkids during the week. Offering expanded hours will serve as a differentiator for your shops and will result in more business.
Retain existing patients
Follow up with existing patients. It’s essential to establish strong, positive relationships with existing clients to make sure they’re happy and keep them coming back. An effective way to do this is to stay in touch through a targeted outbound email campaign.
Periodically send informative, valuable information about hearing aids and accessories, check in when it’s time for them to schedule another hearing examination, send warm wishes at the holidays, etc.
Regular communication helps your clinic to stay top-of-mind and allows you to stay connected to your clients. Manage enables automated “check-ins,” follow ups, and other communication, making it quick and easy to stay in touch with your patients.
Prioritize long-term patient retention. Acquiring a new client is anywhere from five to 25 times more expensive than retaining an existing one. Therefore, it’s worth the effort to retain as many clients as possible to keep your business strong and successful.
Building loyalty is essential: more than 20% of audiology patients say they will go elsewhere when it comes time to repurchase hearing aids, and approximately half of patients forget where they originally purchased their hearing aids. All the tips outlined in this blog can help you retain patients and keep them happy.
Build trust, offer personalized care, understand their concerns and motivation, and treat them like individuals – it’s that simple.
Show that you appreciate your clients and are doing everything you can to help them get a solution that’s appropriate for their individual hearing loss, expectations, and lifestyle.
Auditdata helps hearing care providers improve clinical care and drive their business performance and growth. With our data-driven, connected solutions we cater to customers in all stages of the hearing care lifecycle, from attracting new prospects to providing the most appropriate solutions to treat each customer’s hearing loss. We work with hearing care professionals to improve hearing, ear by ear. For more information about Auditdata’s integrated, intuitive, user-friendly tech solutions for audiology shops, please contact us.
About the Author
Allan Vinther is head for Presales and Business Development at Auditdata. His mission is to deliver good clinical outcomes and commercial growth for our clients. When he is off-duty, Allan can be found scaling walls, biking, and spending time with his family.