We are facing a challenging time as a profession, with increasing competition from large chains and online retailers, and a number of technological innovations that provide subpar hearing assistance to consumers without the need for interaction with a hearing professional. How can we accept this, when we know that audiology services are the single biggest factor in determining patient-success with hearing aids?
Our model of bundling products and services has led to confusion over the value hearing aids, and the value of audiology services. In today’s world, consumers can easily search Google for prices on top hearing aid models, sold at rock-bottom prices, and often without any professional services. So, now it is possible to do the math.
Bundled price – device (internet price) = audiology services price.
Our cards are on the table now.
Again, We know our services are the most important component of the hearing aid fitting, but in a product-focused society, how can we expect consumers to reconcile the prices they see online with the prices we quote at a hearing aid discussion appointment?
Numerous publications and online resources have highlighted the value of professional involvement in hearing rehabilitation, but the message has not penetrated the market. We need to find a better way of linking professional involvement with real world outcomes, in a measurable and transparent way.
Now more than ever, consumers are exploring their options online, before engaging a professional for advice.
To quote Forbes magazine: “There’s been a fundamental shift in how consumers make purchase decisions. In seeking opinions to guide their choices in consumer electronics, for example, shoppers are overwhelmingly turning to online […] reviews from fellow consumers…”
Some might question whether this trend holds true for the primary hearing impaired demographic.
Baby boomers are, in fact, the Web’s largest constituency, making up more than 30 percent of the United States’ 195.3 million Internet users.” Furthermore, “baby boomers cite the Internet as the most important source of information when they make a major marketing purchase.”
Dot Boom: Marketing to Baby Boomers Through Meaningful Online Engagement
Baby boomers “consistently cite Amazon.com reviews [as] influential sources for product information” and the need to “trust” a company, brand, or product before making a purchasing decision or word-of-mouth recommendation.
So how can we tap into this consumer trend to prove to consumers that our professional services matter?
We have a tremendous opportunity to target consumers on their own turf (while they are perusing product reviews) to educate them as to the real-world benefit they will receive by including a hearing professional in their hearing device purchase.
Hearing aid reviews submitted to Hearing Tracker belong to one of three categories: “professionally fitted,” “self-fitted,” or “pre-fitted.” As an audiologist, I am confident that “professionally fitted” hearing aids will emerge as the leader by a wide margin. The pattern that emerges will be undeniable to consumers, and will reveal the true value of audiology services. We know how valuable we are, but the burden of proof is upon us.
The time to secure our future is now. With your support Hearing Tracker can deliver the message our patients need to hear.
Last modified: August 27, 2014