Understanding the Customer Cycle & Using it to Drive Customer Experience

Much has been made of the importance of customer experience over the last few years in hearing healthcare. However, most of the exploration of the concept is nebulous, and there is confusion about what it means and how you can do it. For us, we believe that to drive a customer experience there needs to be some customer intimacy.

 

Your Customer is more than a one-dimensional client. They have families, hobbies and stories to tell.

That type of customer intimacy is built up over time. However, with the right manner and the right tools to hand, you can do it with ease. Remember that the people that sit in front of you are more than a one-dimensional problem. They have families, lives, hobbies, stories to tell. When you or your employees are engaging with them, do so in an unhurried way.

Use your practice management software to keep notes so that you always remember the details. Because it is the details and the easy-going conversation that they will remember the most. Beyond that, let's take a look at how you can drive customer experience.

When is a Customer a Customer?

Firstly using the term customer can be confusing; it is easy to fall into the trap of thinking that customer experience is something that you provide after the purchase. However, true customer experience that will drive your business success will begin long before the purchase.

The customer experience strategy is about driving experience for any prospect, at any touchpoint that ensures that they become a customer and remain a customer. That means that you need to consider all of the touchpoints that any prospect may have with your business.

In fact, the modern consumer will probably have their first experiences of your business long before they contact you. At Auditdata we believe that the customer cycle looks like this:

  • Awareness of your Business (ordinarily online)
  • Engagement with your business (the first phone call, the welcome when they arrive)
  • Testing and recommendations (your consultation and how you deal with them)
  • Fitting period
  • Follow up

If we consider each of those steps separately and understand the customer psychology and needs at each level, we can focus on delivering elements that will drive them along the process.

Awareness of your Business

As we said earlier, many modern prospect customers will probably have their first experience of your business before you are ever aware of it. Their first experience will probably be an online one.
It is therefore imperative that your online presence portrays the brand that you wish to be. Your website needs to help drive trust and your authority as a provider. You also need to ensure that you have strong social proof with good testimonials both on your site and on your Google places.

Consider this, in the recent EuroTrak results hearing aid users said that the trusted only two sources of information. The first one was their GP (General Practitioner or MD) the second was existing users of hearing aids. That is why you need strong social proof.

Engagement with your Business

You need to handle the first contact with your business carefully. You must train your staff to handle all possible questions well. You also need to prepare them to encourage the caller through the process to an appointment. Once your staff book the date, you have the opportunity to provide the prospect with what we have called inspirational communications.

In the case of the pre-test phase, you could send them documents like:

  • How hearing works
  • What to expect at the hearing test
  • Hearing aid technology levels and how they work

These communications have value to the prospect at this stage; they also allow you to begin a broader engagement. They tell the prospect what to expect and set the tone and terms of reference for you as a professional.

Testing and Recommendation

Again, your staff need to be carefully trained to welcome everyone who enters the business. Think carefully about your reception and waiting area, is it warm, comfortable and welcoming? Is it well furnished and decorated? Your business environment needs to reflect who you are as a brand. The welcome you deliver needs to validate their decision to come and see you.

Asking open questions during your consultation allows you to understand the prospect's problems. Using probing questioning ensures that you get all the information you need for a recommendation and it also drives engagement. Remember, you will build customer intimacy with open-ended questions and an un-hurried nature.  


Remember to show empathy and spend time over the prospect's concerns and problems. Listen to them and react appropriately, ask them how situations or issues make them feel. Document their problem areas on a C.O.S.I. If the prospect feels that you care and are aware of their problems, it encourages trust. The consultation is one of the most significant parts of the customer experience; don't forget that because you do it every day.

The Fitting Period

When a prospect has become a customer, it is crucial that you ensure that everything you do validates their decision. As we have said before, all of the data shows that best practices in both testing and fitting lead to higher satisfaction rates. They also validate trust in your professionalism. Nothing should be allowed to undermine the confidence that you have built.

We believe that onboarding communications will help you to both confirm their purchase decision and drive outstanding customer experience.

While much of the onboarding material is generic in nature, customisation of the content for the customer will drive engagement and a deeper connection. Onboarding material at this stage would be:

  • Printouts from the manufacturer software detailing the programmes and specifications of the devices
  • A practice branded customer notebook to document outcomes and notes
  • A copy of the C.O.S.I to act as a self-report of hearing aid outcomes

These documents have real value and relevance to the customer at this stage. They also have real value for your business because they will drive the customer experience.

Follow-up Period

As we have said before, we believe the follow-up or aftercare period is just an extension of your sale process. During the aftercare period, you should ensure that you deliver all planned visits for experience impact. Plan each scheduled visit carefully, the processes involved, what tests you will perform, even down to the conversations you want to have. When a customer shares something personal about an upcoming family event or how their son or daughter is doing this or that with you, make sure you add the note to your practice management software.

At the next visit, refer to it and ask them how they got on, what happened. This type of conversation will always drive intimacy and heighten the perception of the experience. Ensure that all communications you have with your customers during this period are relevant to them, and the part of the journey they are on.

Inspirational Communications

Instead of relying on four-year new technology letters, consider yearly newsletters on changing trends in hearing aid technology. Make those newsletters aspirational enough, and you will inspire customers about new technology without appearing threatening. Designing a customer experience is not as hard as you think, the real difficulty is ensuring that you deliver the experience.

At Auditdata we are aware that time is limited in a busy hearing healthcare business. That is why we have designed and continue to develop features that will help you automate your processes and customer journey to deliver an experience that will ensure customer retention and referral.