Delivering a Memorable Customer Experience
Interview with Eddie Ledford, Owner, Beltone Ledford Audiology and Hearing Centers, on delivering a memorable customer experience and maximizing patient engagement in your practice.
AudiologyOnline: How has the patient journey changed over your 38 years in practice?
Eddie Ledford: Our family tenet has always been to work hard, which has kept us in business for over 35 years. Patients today are much more accepting of hearing instruments given the advent of the RIE (receiver-in-ear) type of hearing aids. Much of the resistance due to “my head is in a barrel” or “there is too much background noise” or “this thing constantly whistles!” is a thing of the past. Additionally, the availability of multiple memories and the convenience of adjusting the instruments using smartphones has given the patient much greater control of their listening experience, which leads to a much higher level of patient satisfaction!
AudiologyOnline: What can providers do to deliver a memorable experience during the patient journey?
Eddie Ledford: Memorable experiences are derived from exceptional service, personalized treatment and the warmth that is conveyed during a visit. As my mother (a 60-year veteran in this industry) used to say; “They don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care!” For some of my patients, the hug that I give or the moments that we spend listening to their stories, fears or concerns may be the only human interaction that they have all week long. It’s important for me to get know my patients to build trust and become their trusted partner in hearing health.
AudiologyOnline: How can providers manage patient uncertainty during the patient journey?
Eddie Ledford: Patient uncertainty can be managed by “sticking to the script.” Every practitioner should have a protocol that details every step in the process from the time that the patient walks in the door until the Purchase Agreement is signed. This protocol should include a thorough hearing evaluation along with a detailed explanation of the evaluation in terms that the patient can understand. This is followed by a lifestyle analysis to enable the practitioner to fit the most appropriate technology that meets not only the hearing needs of the patient but works within the structure of their budget. In our practice, we monitor our practitioners to ensure that no short cuts are being taken! We have found that it is not what you “expect,” it is what you “inspect” that ensures consistency.
AudiologyOnline: How does cost affect patient uncertainty?
Eddie Ledford: In our practice we find that to minimize patient uncertainty relative to cost, it is important to discover “who you are sitting in front of.” Many patients have different financial and lifestyle needs. Some may look for opportunities to save on interest, while others are looking for a specific monthly payment. In all these scenarios, patients should learn about available options and choose what works best for their lifestyle. We currently accept & offer the CareCredit credit card and offer the Allegro installment loan & lease products.
AudiologyOnline: What can providers do to connect with patients and build trust?
Eddie Ledford: To build trust with a patient, aftercare is crucial! Once a patient is fitted with hearing instruments in our practice, they will never leave the office without a follow-up appointment to receive their aftercare. We set the expectation that we are invested in their hearing care. Also, we have found that video otoscopy is a simple and powerful tool that can be used to heighten our image and build additional credibility in the eyes of our patients.
AudiologyOnline: How can providers manage their own uncertainty during the patient journey?
Eddie Ledford: Providers can manage their own uncertainty by “sticking to the script” - carefully and completely following whatever protocol that has been selected to use in the practice and NEVER, EVER shortcutting the process. Your process should be unique to your practice and consistently refined to your patient base. As you find what works for your practice, it can instill confidence and help alleviate uncertainty.
AudiologyOnline: What tools or resources do you recommend that can help providers deliver a memorable patient experience?
Eddie Ledford: The most effective tools that we utilize to help provide patients with the most memorable experience include video otoscopy and our ability to “demo” hearing aids, which enable the patient to “hear the difference” new technology can make in real time. Additionally, taking the time to listen to them and hear their stories provides an opportunity to show concern and empathy regarding the events in their lives that are important to them. And finally, a big hug or a genuine smile can go a long, long way.
AudiologyOnline: How do you see the future of hearing health?
Eddie Ledford: I am optimistic regarding the future of hearing health. With the new OTC class of instruments on the horizon and the new Medicare benefits that are currently being discussed, perhaps we will finally be able to offer help to more than just the one in five hearing impaired people that we are helping now. As a mentor of mine once told me, “This is a personal relationship business; it is not something that can be mass produced.” I believe that statement to be true and that is why I believe that there will always be a place for the properly trained and highly motivated individuals who desire to pursue this career path.
AudiologyOnline: If you could give listeners one piece of advice to implement into their practice today, what would it be?
Eddie Ledford: My advice would be to:
- Block out all the noise going on regarding the impending changes on the horizon relating to this profession. You cannot alter or ignore the changes. Therefore, worry will hinder you. Stay flexible so that you can adapt and stay relevant.
- Keep your undivided attention on that patient sitting right in front of you.
- Follow your chosen protocol and NEVER, NEVER take short cuts!
- And finally, understand that our greatest abilities are “availability” and “dependability.” Keep showing up!
This content is subject to change without notice and offered for informational use only. You are urged to consult with your individual business, financial, legal, tax and/or other advisors with respect to any information presented. Synchrony and any of its affiliates, including CareCredit and Allegro Credit (collectively, “Synchrony”), makes no representations or warranties regarding this content and accepts no liability for any loss or harm arising from the use of the information provided. All statements and opinions in this article are the sole opinions of Eddie Ledford. Your receipt of this material constitutes your acceptance of these terms and conditions.