Audiology Systems Expands Nationwide
Carolyn Smaka: Hi Michel, you and I spoke when Audiology Systems was founded almost 2 years ago. How has it evolved and what is new today?
Michel Jürgens: Audiology Systems was founded in August of 2012 as a response to industry consolidation. The primary purpose was to become a new full-service distributor for Otometrics (MADSEN, ICS, AURICAL) in states where those product lines did not have representation. Since that time, we have partnered with other manufacturers to expand our product portfolio to include other industry leaders. Additionally, we have brought in many industry professionals, audiologists and local instrument experts to build the business around a new customer-centric care model.
Now that we have a solid foundation, we are broadening our scope of distribution to include all 50 states. We are proud to announce that Audio Electronics, Acousti-cal, Audio Technology Specialists and Audiometrics have recently joined us as partners. This change makes Audiology Systems and our partners able to operate as a true national distributor for hearing and balance care solutions. Together we are able to deliver customer care at the highest level and exclusively deliver first-class service and support for Otometrics (MADSEN, AURICAL, ICS), Intelligent Hearing Systems, Oscilla, Noise Barriers and other leading manufacturers.
Carolyn: All partners of Otometrics are now affiliated with Audiology Systems?
Michel: Yes. We have broadened our scope to include all 50 states by including the carefully selected partners mentioned above. These four companies are well-respected local providers of Otometrics equipment and other leading brands today and will still be independently owned and operated. Going forward, they will work in tandem with the Audiology Systems team and will have access to our national resources to serve our customers nationwide. As one team, we are all focused on delivering the same care model for our customers and taking a national approach to audiology and the vestibular market.
Carolyn: What are the reasons for this expanded scope, and are there benefits for your customers?
Michel: Audiology Systems was founded with a clear vision to elevate customer care in the industry as a whole and that requires a national approach. Since we are representing the best brands in audiology and vestibular care, we want to deliver a consistent sales and service model that is customer-centric across the nation. This is especially important for larger accounts and multi-site facilities today. The customer demands at these types of accounts are greater. But by having more streamlined and consistent services in place, as well as a larger team that operates within the same framework, we can better approach these customers in a professional and consistent manner.
I have referred to this as a SWAT approach. We can deploy the right resources for the right situation. As a national company, we support our customers from consultation and sales, to training and education, technical support and calibration service, in a way that no one else can. We work with them to ensure they get the most from their equipment and, in so doing, that they maximize their workflow.
Carolyn: How do you get the team to deliver this level of care?
Michel: We start by hiring the right people. Then we engage them in an intensive 12 to 15 week education and training program. We have developed what we call The Cube, which is an online and on-site training academy for our employees to acquire the knowledge and skills they need to become consultative experts in our solutions and the service that we offer.
Carolyn: What is the alternative model to the national approach you’re describing?
Michel: The alternative is a very fragmented, regional approach, where the same equipment is being sold nationwide but the delivery and support are inconsistent at best, and depend entirely on the local distributor.
Our model provides a sales and service force that is very consistent. Our sales and service representatives are exceptionally-well trained and educated. They also focus on fewer products, which enables them to master those products. We do not want to be experts in everything, but we are the experts in the equipment and the services that we offer our customers.
Direct Distribution Increases Customer Satisfaction for MADSEN, AURICAL and ICS. (Click on image to launch video in a new window)
It all circles back to our Audiology Systems philosophy and our vision of delivering a whole new level of customer care in this industry. Our carefully constructed product portfolio offers very innovative solutions and we have developed a variety of value-added services to support these great solutions. In less than 2 years, we have built a team of more than 130 sales, service and support representatives across the U.S. and we employ the right resources in specific situations to best meet our customers’ needs.
Let me give you an example. As you know, the healthcare arena is moving toward using electronic medical record (EMR) and there is an increased need for data integration. We have experts on our team who specialize in EMR and workflow integration who work with customers nationwide to help them become EMR compatible, improve workflow integration and make their work environments future proof.
Our approach means utilizing a full service provider model that incorporates resources and expertise in a smart and efficient way. For our customers, this means that you have a local distributor that you can count on and you also have access to a number of additional resources to help you be succeed. When you purchase a solution from Audiology Systems, you can rely on us to be consultative, professional, and accessible. By expanding this model to include our partners, this philosophy and quality will be implemented consistently nationwide and will benefit all of our customers, no matter where they are.
Carolyn: Can you explain the relationship between Otometrics and Audiology Systems?
Michel: Audiology Systems and Otometrics have a true partnership. In fact, Audiology Systems’ philosophy of delivering a new level of customer care initially stemmed from Otometrics’ customer-centric business model. So, by extension, Audiology Systems’ leadership obviously has deep roots in Otometrics. In addition, we also have a number of people supporting us who believe in what we are doing because they saw a need for a new model of customer care within the industry.
The GN Group is fully financially backing Audiology Systems, but Audiology Systems is independently owned and operated. GN Otometrics is a minority shareholder. The other shareholders are industry professionals and equipment experts who invested in Audiology Systems, and became part of the team, because they believed in this new model. We are proud of these partnerships and they build a very solid foundation for the future.
Carolyn: If I'm happy with my local distributor, why should I consider working with Audiology Systems for my next purchase?
Michel: That is a very good question. We simply ask for a chance to come in and present our innovative solutions and services, and talk about our customer care-based approach. Product innovation is a constant in hearing and balance care -- especially now. The decision to invest in a new piece of equipment, such as a new clinical audiometer, is extremely important as it will likely be used for the next 8 to 10 years. You want to be sure you make the right decision. That’s where our consultative approach comes in. We work with our customers to assess their current and future needs so that they can be sure they’re making an informed and strategic purchasing decision. We are confident that you will find that our consultative model works and that it will provide you with many added benefits as we build a strong relationship over time. We will continue to offer new and exclusive innovative solutions from Otometrics and our other manufacturers. A good example of this is the OTOSCAN™, a complete digital ear scanner made by Otometrics. This cutting edge innovation is available exclusively to Audiology Systems and will available in the very near future.
Introducing a New Level of Customer Care for Clinicians. (Click on image to launch video in a new window)
Carolyn: What are your future plans for Audiology Systems?
Michel: We are focused on three main areas moving forward. First, we are focused on strengthening and building a united team across the U.S. As a single team, we live by the same principles with one shared objective of delivering customer care at a new level by being professional, consultative and always accessible. The next focus area is knowledge. We want to continue to expand our knowledge to help our customers take their businesses to the next level. Finally, we are committed to being easy to work with. We want to remain very flexible in terms of working with our customers and our partners. This includes ensuring fluid processes in all aspects of our business from sales through ongoing customer support and training.
Internally, we use the example of purchasing an iPad. If you purchase an iPad at Best Buy it can be fairly cumbersome. If you purchase it at an Apple store, you will work with a trained expert who can answer all your questions, and you can complete the entire transaction in a minute or two without even standing in line. That is the kind of company that we want to be. Whether you are purchasing equipment or need service or support, we want to make the whole process -- what we call the customer journey -- smooth, simple and easy. These are the major focus areas for the time being.
Carolyn: Thanks for your time today, Michel. Wishing you continued success with Audiology Systems.