"Getting To Know You"
As the owner of a hearing aid retail outlet, the in-take process is, perhaps, the most critical phase of my job. It's the time to assess, not just the client's hearing needs, but lifestyle needs, as well.
To make the most of this valuable, data gathering time, I employ a number of tactics to ensure I and the client get the greatest benefit from this important give and take.
Hearing Aid Dispensers: The Face Of The Hearing Health Industry
Whether a dispensing audiologist or a retail store owner, trained, licensed and certified, these professionals are the face of the hearing health industry. We're trained in both hearing loss and hearing mechanics; we're also the industry interface that knows the product lines, features, costs and other important consumer/patient information.
That puts hearing aid practitioners in the critical role of representing the hearing aid industry with integrity, professionalism and a strong belief in the ethics of fitting the right hearing aid to each client.
For dispensing audiologists and hearing aid practitioners, the in-take process enables us to assess the client's hearing needs and lifestyle needs.
For example, a 35-year old client who comes to see me with mild hearing loss would receive a completely different recommendation from me than an 83-year old, sedate man with mild hearing loss and time on his hands.
Obviously, the 35-year-old is looking for one of two things: complete discretion (based on perceptions in the workplace that people who wear hearing aids are broken) or some of the flashy ear bling that manufacturers are producing to reach the Baby Boomer demographic that is now within hearing aid range. I've seen flower power designs on BTE units that make a statement about the wearer.
Let's Get Comfy
I have a small, comfortable seating area in a corner of my store. The upholstered furniture and coffee table with product literature in neat piles creates a relaxing and professional environment in which to gather in-take information.
In most cases, I ask the questions on my in-take form and record the answers. This way I can add notes, reminders and other information to help me find the right fit for each client. (I'm also sure to be able to read my own handwriting, another small advantage.)
Options, Costs and Care
During the in-take process I qualify the client's needs based on in-take form data and chit-chat.
I ask the store visitor about his or her favorite activities, work situation, home life. In other words, I snoop. But in a nice way. And people are always glad to offer information about themselves and their families.
For example, during an in-take conversation I might hear an aside from a spouse about being ignored. That is something I'd want to note. Spouses of people with hearing loss often feel ignored.
After I've gathered as much information as I can, I lay out the options available to the store visitor. I make a point never to "sell" one product over another. Part of my professionalism is to present an array of hearing loss solutions with different features, hearing and wearing comfort, durability and so on.
This is also the time to introduce price points versus features. Some consumers are "only interested in hearing the TV better," while others are concerned about the perceptions of co-workers and company management. Listening and "snooping" during the in-take procedure better equip me with the information I need to make the best recommendations based on my perceptions of what the client really wants and needs.
This is when I become a teacher. I explain features. Just what IS an omni-directional microphone and why do I want one? What ARE the benefits of wireless connectivity to the listening process?
In other words, when a visitor comes to my store I assume nothing. And I assume that the consumer knows little or nothing other than s/he needs a hearing aid. I then use the in-take process to, not only gather data for the store's d-base, I also take the time to get to know each individual, their likes and dislikes, their lifestyles and relationships.
The more of this lifestyle information I gather during the in-take process the better equipped I am to make the right recommendation for each visitor.
That's why I'm a professional and part of the face of the hearing health industry.
Please stop by my website and blog to discover more tips to improve your services as you build a stable client base at hearingtutor.com.