Using Unitron Flex and Log It All in My Audiology Practice
Carolyn Smaka: Bill, thanks for your time today to discuss how you are using Unitron's Flex program and Log It All in your audiology practice. Let's start with Flex:upgrade. When you first heard about Flex:upgrade, what was your initial reaction to the concept?
Bill Diles: I was a bit skeptical. I was concerned that a patient might ask, “Why are you charging me more for higher levels of technology when all you’re doing is clicking a mouse?” I figured I would say, “Hey, it’s pay per click” (just kidding). But seriously, I just couldn’t quite get my head around the concept of upgradable hearing aids.
Carolyn: What changed your mind about Flex?
Bill: Well, we were already having lots of success with our Unitron fittings, and I thought - if Unitron thinks this is a good idea, I should take a look. So, we ordered a half dozen Flex:trials and we were pleasantly surprised at how patients were reacting to the Flex message. When it comes to Flex:upgrade, not once have I been asked about “pay per click” or been given push-back about price levels.
Carolyn: Has Flex:trial changed the way you sell?
Bill: We've always approached new patients with the concept of a “test drive,” but Flex:trial has made this process much easier. Not having to stock hearing aids with invoices coming due gives us a lot of freedom in letting the patient walk out with new technology to try at home before making a decision.
Carolyn: Has Flex:trial made the experience of getting amplification easier for your patients?
Bill: Flex:trial makes the process much easier for the patient because they feel absolutely no pressure. I actually show them the writing on the devices and let them know these are just sample devices that are not for sale. I often suggest they take them for a week to see if they are ready to take the step of getting hearing aids.
Carolyn: Has Flex impacted your returns for credit?
Bill: Absolutely. Returns for credit are the nemesis of our industry – they are such a waste of time for both the clinic and the manufacturers. I sure don’t miss having to pack up hearing aids, ship them back, and wait for the credit memo to come through.
Carolyn: Do you use Unitron's new Log It All feature with your patients who try Flex?
Bill: Log It All gives us really valuable information in helping the patient decide on a technology level. Patients are typically very impressed with the information Log It All gathers, not just about the hearing aids, but also about the life situations they encounter. And with Flex, we have all of this listening data available to us before we have placed an order or they have had to give us any money.
I have one patient in particular whose story is interesting. His name is John and the Log It All data from his fitting is astounding. When you meet John, he looks like somebody who might lead a relatively quiet life. In reality, he is an accordion player who spends five nights a week in the noisy restaurant/bar that his father started back in 1926. This “picture” of his life seen through Log It All is a good example of how important this objective data can be to a hearing instrument fitting.
Carolyn: Tell me about how you use Flex:upgrade with your patients. How do you explain the concept and how do they respond?
Bill: Flex upgrade comes into play mainly with first time users who are “on the bubble” regarding which technology to choose. Knowing they can upgrade the devices anytime down the road gives them the confidence to make a decision today.
Carolyn: Have you incorporated Flex into your marketing?
Bill: Yes, absolutely. The message resonates so well in the office that we were challenged to find a way to communicate that same message in our marketing. We don’t talk about specific brands or programs in our marketing, but we just refer to the concept of the “test drive.” We have worked with our creative agency to develop a number of visual concepts to communicate this pressure-free, hassle-free, try-before-you-buy style of doing business, and people love what they see and hear. We have developed five ads so far and have been running them for 2.5 years in our market – they still make the phone ring each week, even on days they aren’t running! We also incorporate the concepts into direct mail pieces, on our website, and every other medium we use for communicating with prospective patients.
Carolyn: Any final thoughts you'd like to share about Flex?
Bill: We are all in this business so we can improve people’s lives by helping them hear better. But we can’t do our great work unless we run efficient, profitable businesses. Flex allows the modern clinician to do all of that with a tool that improves the patient experience and improves the health of your business at the same time.
Carolyn: Thanks Bill - it's been great speaking with you.
About Bill Diles
A founder of Kenwood Hearing Center, Bill has been a clinical audiologist since 1981. Always innovating in areas of patient care and marketing, Bill has developed many unique tools that have resulted in tremendous growth of the practices, which have now grown to multiple locations in the San Francisco Bay Area. In addition, Bill founded Pivot Hearing, a practice development company focused on bringing sustainable tools to private practice audiologists and hearing aid dispensers. Pivot Hearing can help private practice owners develop a renewable flow of new patients and efficient operations design through a totally customized plan and with a flexible way of working together.