You’ve spent your career helping people hear — but to succeed in a tricky, unstable hearing industry, you also need them to talk.
This is definitely true as hearing healthcare professionals, audiologists, hearing aid services, and hearing instrument specialists look to rebound after the economic hit of 2020.
It’s estimated that in 2020, hearing aid sales decreased by 18% compared to the previous year — even while the World Health Organization reports that hearing loss is on the rise. While it’s thought that there may be a bit of an increase in sales in 2021 thanks to pent-up demand, there’s still a great deal of caution when it comes to where consumers are going and what they are doing. Is it worth it to schedule non-emergent visits to an ear, nose, and throat (ENT) doctor or an audiologist when conditions are questionable?
One way to get people in the door and to build trust in your business is encouraging your patients and customers to share the good news about you.
Word of Mouth in the World of Hearing Health
Any business that depends on customer satisfaction is a business that benefits from positive word of mouth.
For audiologists, word of mouth plays an especially crucial role due to any number of issues specific to the field. After all, hearing aid costs are one of the biggest trepidations consumers have about getting any kind of hearing assistance.
How can you overcome this concern?
One massive survey recently taken by Healthy Hearing found that a recommendation from a friend was the third most common way respondents ended up with their current hearing healthcare professional, behind only physician referrals and online searches.
According to the same survey, a personal recommendation from a trusted friend or family member was the second most important factor consumers gave when asked how they would choose between multiple possible hearing professionals.
Generally, consumers are increasingly valuing the importance of recommendations. In fact, more than 76% of respondents in this same survey said they would seek recommendations from their physician or a trusted friend if they were looking to work with a hearing care professional.
All of this means that finding (and retaining) new customers through family or friend referrals should be an integral component of your growth plan.
The Importance of Referrals on your Bottom Line
Referral marketing across the board can outperform other types of marketing activities.
A recent marketing survey stated that 87% of frontline sales reps, 82% of sales leaders, and 78% of marketers share that referrals are the best kind of leads a business can get.
Referred customers usually have a 16% higher lifetime value.
In order for an existing customer to refer new business, your customers will first need to feel so strongly about your clinic that they’re excited to drop your name to help out a friend in need.
Word of mouth is an effective way to build meaningful, profitable relationships with your existing customers and with the future customers they send your way.
What Inspires Referrals?
How can you get your existing patients and customers to reach out and share the good news about your business with those in their life via word of mouth?
Consumers have been shown to give referrals to friends and family only after they feel your business met two specific criteria.
First, they’ll need to have had a consistently great experience interacting with you, your staff, and your company.
Second, the product you sell has to exceed expectations.
The first criteria is simple enough and should be common sense. If your customers feel like they have a warm personal relationship with you and the clinic’s staff — if they feel understood and actually cared about — they’ll be far more likely to refer friends to you. They’ll do this to share with their friends the positive experience they have and to repay some of the kindness they feel you’ve shown them by doing something kind for you.
You're very likely already exceeding in this area.
It’s the second criteria that’s often forgotten. Your customers have to love your product, even after you sell it to them.
Although friendliness and attentiveness can get you far, they won’t get you past the finish line. In addition to liking you, your customers will also have to have an outstanding experience using their hearing instrument over the long haul.
The truth is, most of that experience will take place outside of your clinic’s doors, so it's your job to equip them to have the absolute best experience.
Ensuring 100% Customer Satisfaction with Ear Gear
What we've found in our internal research is that the majority of hearing instrument consumers find their hearing instrument to be perfectly fine as is. We've also found that up to 20% of the entire market can have some real challenges with using their hearing instrument, and that these consumers can sometimes feel on their own when trying to find a solution.
Who are these elusive 20% that will not be fully satisfied with their purchase? They vary quite a bit, but for the purpose of this article we'll break them down into two groups.
1) Young children. Toddlers are notorious for losing their hearing instruments. Any parent of a child with hearing loss has gone digging under the couch in search of a lost hearing instrument. As kids get older and start playing sports and being more active, the risk of a hearing instrument getting lost or damaged remains. Parents of kids with hearing loss have constant stress about their expensive hearing instruments going missing.
2) People in hot/humid weather or prone to excessive sweating. Excessive humidity and sweat can be bad news for even the best hearing instruments. We've heard from our customers that they will just leave their hearing instruments at home when working out, or riding their bike, or working outside. This is a sub-par experience because they feel they're having to baby their hearing instrument and their hearing suffers when doing these activities without their device.
So what's the solution?
We started Ear Gear 15 years ago, and the results have been surprising — even for us. Ear Gear began as a way to prevent children from losing their hearing aids, but we soon realized that it could be used for so much more.
Over the years, customers have reported that Ear Gear makes their hearing instruments more comfortable, and they feel more protected. Ear Gear cuts down on service appointments due to damage from moisture, damage, or sweat. It also reduces wind noise (while being acoustically transparent). And finally, our Corded models have a sturdy clip and cord that keeps the hearing instrument safely attached to their shirt.
Essentially, Ear Gear helps hearing devices like cochlear implants and hearing aids work the way they are supposed to, even through wind, sweat, dirt, and more.
For the 20% of customers struggling with their hearing instrument experience, Ear Gear is the solution.
Ear Gear for Better Quality of Life, More Referrals, and More
While there are many things you can do to optimize your business, we truly believe that introducing Ear Gear into the purchasing process at the right moment will help you close more deals faster and at a higher rate, reduce your customer’s service appointments, and increase your word-of-mouth referrals.
If you're interested in learning more, one good place to start is our newly updated, free eBook: Sell More in 2021: An Audiologist’s Guide to Growing Revenue and Saving Time. It expands on what we've talked about today, covers different marketing tactics you should consider, and illustrates how audiologists who recommend Ear Gear make more money. Download our guide today!