New Leadership and Strategic Direction for Unitron US
Carolyn Smaka: Mike, thanks for your time today. You recently joined Unitron as the US President. What is your background?
Mike Dittmann: Thanks for having me. Prior to joining Unitron, I was with Widex for 17 years. I held many roles at Widex over the years including setting up distributors, establishing company owned sales companies and later integrating distributors within Widex. In my last role, I was head of Widex USA and global sales.
Carolyn: Why did you decide to make the move to Unitron?
Mike: It began with a relationship I had with Jan Metzdorff, President of Unitron Global. Jan has great vision. We have a long history in the industry and a friendship based on mutual respect. He asked me to explore the opportunity at Unitron, and invited me to meet with him and the Unitron team.
As I started to explore the opportunity and interact with members of the Unitron management team, I became increasingly impressed with the company’s vision for the US market. While Unitron continues to design and develop great technology with a very strong product portfolio, we are also very much focused on our strategy on adding value to our customers and to delivering solutions that go beyond hearing instruments. After many years in the market, I knew that this was exactly the approach needed to move the market forward today. So I was excited to accept the opportunity to lead the delivery of this strategy in the US.
Carolyn: Did anything surprise you once you started at Unitron?
Mike: What immediately impressed me, not necessarily surprised me, was Unitron’s extremely high commitment to our customers. We are helping them to build their practices and deepen their patient relationships. We try and honor their special requests and we will work with them to come up with solutions to their challenges. It’s a completely different attitude and culture here that puts the customer’s success in their business and with their patients at the center. That’s an approach that can’t be easily duplicated or imitated. Internally we call this the Unitron Way.
The other thing that impressed me was the technical capability of the Unitron US team. From the shell lab, to the manufacturing floor, to the marketing department – there is so much innovation and customer-centric customization happening throughout the Unitron organization.
Carolyn: Tell me more about Unitron’s in-clinic success strategy and how it extends beyond products. How do you do that?
Mike: The hearing healthcare industry is experiencing a lot of change these days. Patients are changing. There’s change at the practice level. And the industry around the practitioner is changing. Our in-clinic success strategy is focused on helping hearing healthcare professionals respond to this sea of change. We are continuously asking ourselves the question: “How can we help our customers differentiate their practice and create a unique experience for their patients?” We consider all the ways we can support them, and how we can add services to help clinicians build great practices and more effectively compete. It’s a strategy we are continuing to hone and fine-tune over the years, because we know if our customers are successful, then we are successful.
Because every customer is at a different place in terms of their business maturity, we have developed a variety of partnership levels as part of our in-clinic success strategy to address this range of need. At the most comprehensive level, we engage in a full review of a customer’s in-clinic patient experience to identify where the practice’s pain points lie, and we’ll work with them to co-develop customized solutions to address their gaps and opportunities. For other customers, we provide support in specific areas. For instance, a customer can simply partner with us for a ‘Lunch and Listen’, where a Unitron representative works with the clinician to execute a Lunch and Listen event in their community to get consumers excited about hearing care and solutions and to deliver qualified clients to the practice. This program in particular has been very successful to date, with customers experiencing up to 50% conversion rates.
Carolyn: What can customers expect to see from Unitron in the future?
Mike: Differentiation is so important for independent hearing healthcare professionals, and we firmly believe that differentiation is achieved providing patients with a great experience throughout their journey to amplification.
To help professionals achieve their business goals, we plan to continue to provide products and solutions that support differentiation. For instance, we’ll be introducing some exciting new form factors in the Fall, along with some new technology and tools that support professionals with their patients and achieve more successful fittings. At a global level, we’re establishing a Sonova wide Mobile Apps competency center at our Unitron headquarters in Canada. This team is creating new mobile technology and apps, so you can expect developments in this hot area as well from Unitron.
Carolyn: We'll look forward to hearing more about these activities as they develop. It’s been great speaking with you and we wish you much success in your new role.