The 2014 Academy of Doctors of Audiology (ADA) Convention, held at the Red Rock Resort in Las Vegas, featured a special 1-hour presentation, “10 Winning Tips for Patient Loyalty,” by Sergei Kochkin, PhD, one of the world’s foremost experts on patient satisfaction with hearing aids.

“I propose using these 10 patient loyalty tips for creating higher levels of customer satisfaction and benefit, and thus creating more apostles while avoiding the creation of saboteurs in a practice,” says Dr Kochkin.

The event, which was co-hosted by Dr Kochkin and The Hearing Review, and sponsored by CareCredit, was offered free of charge to attendees. Dr Kochkin’s 10 tips—based on 25 years of consumer survey data—are designed to help build on your practice’s strengths via improved patient acquisition, retention, and repeat business.

Dispensing audiologists increasingly find themselves pitted against new competitive forces that can purchase products for less and often don’t have the same expenses in terms of patient acquisition and overhead costs. “10 Winning Tips for Patient Loyalty” looks at ways to regain the edge and utilize your strengths through differentiation and proven patient satisfaction methods. The event will also provide two examples of new unique technologies designed for patient education and enhanced patient management: Clear Digital Media and Solution Reach.

The 1-hour session concluded with a Q & A, and attendees stayed to enjoy a more informal discussion, as well as complimentary beer, wine, and hors d’oeuvres, following the presentation.

Dr Kochkin’s 10 Winning Tips for Patient Loyalty, are:

  1. Use best practices. Using the most comprehensive hearing healthcare protocol as an established process in your practice is the #1 way to ensure excellent patient outcomes, while avoiding commoditization, technology and distribution channel disruption, and obsolescence. All the major hearing care professional organizations have published these recommended protocols.
  1. Use verification and validation (V+V). The use of verification (objectively ensuring that the hearing aid delivers the correct sound level at the tympanic membrane) and validation (getting a subjective response from the patient about how they feel about your services) during the hearing aid fitting process has been proven to significantly reduce patient visits (1.2 fewer visits) and profoundly influence customer satisfaction.
  1. Quality assurance. Test in a sound booth, verify that the hearing aid is working correctly via a test box, ensure that loud sounds are comfortably loud, and that the hearing aid earmold is not painful.
  1. Really talk with your customers. Make it easy for them to give you feedback, establish a system for routine customer outgoing audits, and use subjective and objective benefit measures to improve your practice.
  2. Offer a money-back guarantee. In market surveys, this was the #1 desired hearing aid feature by non-adopters of hearing aids. A 90-day trial finished #14 for all potential hearing aid users.
  1. Provide excellent MELU. Multiple environmental listening utility (MELU)—the ability to listen in the widest possible variety of everyday settings—is intimately related to customer loyalty. According to Kochkin, apostles can only be created by providing excellent near- and far-field hearing aid utility.
  1. Understand cost/affordability issues and do something about it. Issues related to cost account for 4 of the top-10 most important factors for non-adoption of hearing aids, according to market studies. Offering a range of prices and financing options provides a solution to this significant barrier in hearing aid adoption.
  1. Counsel patients. Education should begin before the first visit and continue throughout the patient’s involvement with the practice. Counseling includes aural rehabilitation and instruction about hearing strategies, assistive devices, consumer groups, along with the standard device orientation.
  1. Overall office quality. The overall appearance of the dispensing practice, including the waiting room, has been shown to have a significant influence on overall customer satisfaction.
  2. Re-define your success. The success of a practice should not necessarily be tied to hearing aids sales, but rather objective and subjective quality measures of hearing aid benefit. Success should be re-defined as the number of apostles generated by a practice.