4 Crucial Conversion Rates To Improve In Hearing Care

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4 crucial conversion rates to improve in hearing care

In hearing clinics, there is often a discussion about how to increase conversion rates, or help-rates as some prefer to call it. Many audiologists are measured on clinic performance, conversion rates, and sales, and are rewarded according to these KPIs.

But how do you define and optimize conversion rates? In the hearing care retail industry, there is no steadfast definition of a conversion rate.  It’s also important to understand the sub-conversion rates, including the show-up rate, the quality of the lead, the help rate, and closing the final sale. Your clinic’s team will need to work together to maximize sales by increasing the sub-conversion rates through every step of the client experience.

The conversion (and sub-conversion) rates add up to the end result. Motivate your team to do their part in improving hearing care conversion rates, each person in your clinic plays a vital role, all equally important to the outcome. To increase success, your team will need to use different techniques for new vs. existing clients, demonstrate the right equipment for each client’s specific needs, and determine which areas of your sales efforts may need to be adjusted to improve results.

The four sub-conversion rates below are all essential to boosting the conversion rates for new clients. However, only the last one is important when working with existing clients who are repurchasing. 

  1. From booking to show-up (the show-up rate)
  2. From show-up to hearing loss detected (the quality of the lead = quality of receptionists and marketing)
  3. From hearing loss detected to trial (the help rate)
  4. From trial to purchase (the onboarding and understanding of clients’ needs/closing the final sale)

Below, please find some tips and tricks on how to best optimize each aspect to benefit the overall conversion rate.

1. From booking to show-up (The show-up rate)

A double-digit percent of clients with an appointment do not show up for their appointment, which wastes your valuable resources. There are multiple reasons why a client does not show-up at an appointment. 

The most common reasons and how to improve: 

1. Clients forget:

    • Keep them informed, send a reminder and/or call them the day before
    • Do not book appointments too long into the future

2. They can’t find your location:

      • Send them the location prior to the appointment.
      • Ask them during the reminder call/text/email if they know where to find your clinic and where to park.
      • Make sure that your clinic has been added to Google places. Download our marketing guide for help on making your clinic more visible online.

3. They are hindered going to the appointment but do not want to cancel:

    • Ensure your contact information for all clinics is easily available on your website.
    • In the SMS or call reminder, ask them to confirm that they will show up.

2. From-show-up to hearing loss (lead quality/velocity rate)

When you get a new client into your clinic, a booking with an audiologist is often 1-1.5 hours long. This time should be spent discussing the client’s hearing loss, examining their ears and recommending the best solutions to meet their specific needs and budget. 

Audiologists are often measured on their ability to convert these leads into sales. But what if there is no hearing loss? Then it is not the audiologist’s fault that they cannot convert the lead and they should not be measured on this KPI. It is, therefore, very important that the lead is pre-qualified before they book a longer appointment with an audiologist and that the audiologist is measured on the conversion rate of clients with hearing-loss detected.  

A call center or a front desk staff often sets up the appointments. They are also responsible for qualifying the lead prior to the booking. Areas to focus on include: 

  • Set the right KPIs: Measure your call center, front desk staff, or companies providing leads to your clinics - not only on the number of bookings but also on the show-up rate and the percentage of hearing loss detected. In that way, they are rewarded for quality vs. quantity, allowing your clinic staff to spend their time on the right clients.
  • Qualify bookings: When booking an appointment, have a set of standard questions to ask about why the client believes they are experiencing hearing loss. Like “what makes you think you might have a hearing loss,” “in which situations do you find it difficult to hear?” If the client’s answers indicate hearing loss is likely, add them in your Practice Management Software and book an appointment. 
  • Qualify the clients by age. If a client is more than 65 years old, they are statistically more likely to have a hearing loss. The receptionist or call center should book the first appointment (90 min.) for qualified older clients. If the client is younger than 65, carefully qualify them and potentially set a shorter initial appointment (30 min.) to examine the client’s ears and decide if it is necessary to book an additional, longer appointment.
  • Pre-screening of hearing: Set up a hearing pre-screening iPad device in your reception to pre-screen clients prior to the appointment. This is especially critical for younger clients to confirm their hearing loss. This will save the audiologist’s time and allow the audiologist to use these test results to help guide the deeper hearing evaluation.

3. From hearing loss detected to trial (help rate)

This conversion rate is focused on how your audiologists can convince the client to try the hearing aids for a couple of months and see firsthand how it can help improve their quality of life. In the US, it is often referred to as the “help rate.” 

  • Assess each client: Understand each client’s specific challenges by asking open-ended (not “yes-no”) questions to determine how their hearing loss has impacted their lifestyle. Do not go on autopilot. When you sit with a client, make sure to talk directly to their needs, lifestyle, and challenges. This is important for both your new clients and existing clients wishing to repurchase. To learn how to do this, read our e-book. Based on each client’s answers, you can ensure that the hearing aids you recommend fit their needs and budget. All your audiologists should be properly trained on how to do this, and it should be an integrated part of all your first appointments.
  • Ask clients to bring a loved one to their appointment: It has been reported that the conversion-rate can improve as much as 40% if a loved one is involved in the appointment. They will confirm the hearing challenges and help the client make the decision to buy hearing aids and other equipment. Ask the client to bring their spouse or other loved one to their first appointment to get a more comprehensive picture of the client’s hearing difficulties and needs. 
  • Do not overwhelm the client: When you recommend hearing solutions for the client, do not overwhelm them with options. Make a simple suggestion with two options that you’d recommend to solve their problems. Be sure to refer back to the challenges they have expressed and explain how the recommended hearing solutions can solve those problems and bring them value. If an accessory, such as a TV streamer, can further help them, only mention one accessory. Otherwise, it will be too much information for the client to grasp at once. 

An example: We always assume that the more choices we offer, the more likely customers will be able to find just the right thing. In 2000, psychologists Sheena Iyengar and Mark Lepper published a remarkable study. On one day, shoppers at an upscale food market saw a display table with 24 varieties of gourmet jam. Those who sampled the spreads received a coupon for $1 off any jam. On another day, shoppers saw a similar table, except only six varieties of the jam were on display. The large display attracted more interest than the small one. But when the time came to purchase, people who saw the large display were one-tenth as likely to buy as people who saw the small display. Read more. This study demonstrates how we can quickly overwhelm clients if we show 10 different hearing aids rather than recommending two that would be the best match. 

  • Do not overwhelm your staff: Many clinics offer a wide variety of hearing aid types. There are multiple brands for multiple types of hearing losses, price points and styles. Say you have 2 brands in your clinic with 4 price points, 3 styles, and solutions for 3 different hearing loss types. This would mean that your audiologists have to make a suggestion for two options out of (2 brands * 4 price-points * 3 hearing loss types * 3 styles) = 72 possibilities. Limit the number of options you carry to help your audiologists keep their decision-making simple. This would also make it easier to plan your inventory and train your staff on fitting software.

  • Conduct a demo of the instruments: Sound perception is completely individual and can be very difficult to explain to a client, particularly when they have a hearing difficulty. For this reason, providing a demo to the client prior to purchasing hearing aids is important, allowing them to make a more informed decision about their hearing devices. The results of a listening experience can be powerful in showing patients and their loved ones how their hearing could be improved and allowing the patient to become more involved in the selection process. It is recommended that audiologists conduct 1-3 demos for each client to show them firsthand the benefits of the hearing instruments they are considering. Clients that try the devices are more likely to purchase them after the demo. For existing clients, demoing new instruments is an effective way to show them the benefits of upgrading to new technology and/or adding accessories to their hearing aids.

4. From Trial to Purchase (Onboarding – Closing the final sales) 

The final part of the conversion rate is measuring the return rate of the hearing aids. If a client ends up returning the hearing instruments after trial, your clinics have wasted a lot of time and effort. In many countries, the return rates are up to more than 50%. There are many reasons for this: clients feel like they’re not getting the value they expected out of the instruments, they’re having difficulties with the technology, prices, comfort, stigma, etc. Luckily, there are many things you can do to decrease return rates.

  • Set the right KPIs for the audiologists. Again, KPI setting is critical to success. To make sure that your staff do not oversell to your clients, they should be rewarded on the conversion rate minus the return rate. This will make them eager to actually make sure that they on-board the clients to the right solution and that they follow the proper fitting process.
  • Demonstrate the solutions.  A demo of the solution is a great tool to convince the client to keep the hearing aid. If your client becomes reluctant to buy, educate them about why they should buy a hearing aid and what consequences hearing loss may have on their overall health, including:
    • Irritability, negativity, and anger
    • Fatigue, tension, stress and depression
    • Avoidance or withdrawal from social situations
    • Social rejection and loneliness
    • Reduced alertness and increased risk to personal safety
  • Set up a standard fitting period.  When your clients get hearing aids, there are sounds they have to adjust to and technology they need to understand. This is a challenge for many. Make sure that you assist your clients during this difficult phase. This requires three things.

1. The client gets used to wearing the instruments: Make sure the client is wearing the instruments properly and is comfortable using the equipment’s technology. Together with the client, make a plan for the trial period. When should they come in for a fitting? When will you call them to follow up and see how they’re doing? Ensure that the dates you agreed upon are booked in the calendar and that you have a notice for the audiologists to call and follow up. To ease the transport time for clients, consider remote care as an option for selected follow-up appointments.

2. Fitting: When fitting, decide how much sound the client can take at a time. It’s often a good idea to start the amplification at a low level and, when the client gets used to it, turn it up gradually. Also, test tube sizes and make sure that the client knows how to insert and use the instruments (read more in conversion ebook).

3. Communication: Ongoing communication is essential. The client will need to be reassured that they made the right equipment decision, and that what they’re experiencing with their new device is completely normal. This should be communicated upfront and throughout the trial period. Inform the clients that they will hear sounds they have not heard for a long time.  Let them know that some noises may sound sharp and different from how they sounded without the hearing aids. Tell them it’s normal to feel tired because the brain receives a lot of new information with the new equipment, and this fatigue may last for 3-4 months as they adjust to their new hearing devices.

  • Reactivate lost clients. If a client decides not to buy the hearing aid, don’t consider them a lost opportunity. Keep their record in your Practice Management Software and contact them after 3-5 months to ask if they have changed their mind. Some might want to try a different model or may actually be missing the hearing aids.   

These tips and tricks will help optimize your end-to-end conversion rate. Take one step at a time and set the right KPIs for your staff. An efficient Practice Management Software will allow you to have performance transparency, allowing you to see where you can improve or adjust the process. Every time you have a new initiative, train, educate and communicate this information to the staff to boost successes.

If you want to learn more about how to convert more leads into paying customers, download this guide. We’ve done a deep dive into the initial in-person experience and the steps and concepts you may use to maximize opportunities. It explores different elements within an overall strategy designed to move consumers forward, helping them manage their hearing loss and purchase the right equipment from your clinic.

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