The Future Of The Hearing Profession In The Age Of The Consumer

Business is being turned on its head, our profession will be no different. You Need To Be Aware Of That.

Facing The Future Of The Hearing Profession

With recent events clearly in our mind, we know that the hearing profession may be facing great change. In fact we need to realise that we have been lucky enough that the business model of our profession has remained essentially unchanged up until this point.

The world not just business has changed, a small statement, but do we really realise the ramifications? I don’t think we do. The entire business landscape of nearly every industry has already or is in the process of being quite radically changed.

The consumer, enabled and indeed spurred on by the explosion of disruptive technologies, is seizing the power from business. Within that small statement is contained far reaching consequences for professions, industries and businesses who do not fully understand the implications. Please read the following from Josh Bernoff from Forrestor Research.


“Empowered customers are disrupting every industry; competitive barriers like manufacturing strength, distribution power, and information mastery can’t save you. In this age of the customer, the only sustainable competitive advantage is knowledge of and engagement with customers. The successful companies will be customer-obsessed, like Best Buy, IBM, and

Competitive Strategy In The Age Of The Consumer

by Josh Bernoff

Why Would We Think Our Profession Is Any Different?

Information is power

The adage that information is power is a truism. Once businesses controlled the flow of information and therefore retained power. This situation has rapidly changed over the last ten years. The Customer now has access to massive amounts of information, freely available on every possible subject you can imagine. In hearing profession the customer now has the ability to research thoroughly the following

  • Pricing of hearing instruments
  • Reviews of hearing instruments
  • Their possible purchase choices and purchase channels
  • Their possible sale providers/vendors
  • The reputation of those possible providers
  • Reviews of providers
  • Their own on-going needs

With this type of information consumers can take complete control of the purchase process. They understand, or are given the opportunity to understand a great deal of information about their hearing loss and needs. They no longer really need us! Think carefully about that. It seems a stark statement, we may rightly respond that they need us to purchase a hearing instrument. They need us for adequate needs assessment and testing. They need us for on-going care and assessment.

So let us take a look at those statements

We are all aware that they no longer need us to purchase an instrument!

Adequate needs assessment and testing.

They do need an accurate test, however they can rock up to any of us tomorrow, ask for a test and pay us for our trouble. The question is are we going to refuse to give that test and turn down their money?

In fact we know that online testing is becoming ever more accurate, they may eventually not need us for simple audiometric testing at all. Where does that leave us?

Needs and lifestyle assessment, yeah right, I am sure they do not know what their own lifestyle needs are. Even if they are a bit slow on the uptake, a simple tick box test will tell them how their lifestyle matches up to a hearing instrument level of technology.

They need us for on-going care and assessment.

Wrong, they only need us, if they in fact decide that they do. This is the crux, the core of the situation. We need to understand that consumers have the power to decide what they do and do not want. They will not tolerate being told what they want, the age of the Consumer, the age of choice is too far advanced for that.

If we want provision of hearing healthcare instruments to remain the in the hands of Hearing Health Professionals, we need to start convincing your prospective Customers there is real value to that for them, not for us. That is the key, the value must be seen as value for them.

How Do We Convince Them Of Value?

The million dollar question, how to convince your prospective customer of value? We need to think long and hard about this question, maybe a change in the business model is called for. But maybe its not, I would ask one question, has anybody asked the consumer what they want, what they feel about the current business model? Why do they doubt the value of the model, why do they doubt the value of what we deliver?

I think we need to address these questions before we move forward, we need to find out what our Patients and prospective Patients think. Only then can we design a strategy that caters to, fits into and is attractive to that thinking.

Consumers, their decision processes and their buying power will decide the future of our profession. Not you or I. We need to really understand what they are thinking and we probably will have to adapt our business model to that thinking.

This post was adapted from a post I published in March this year, I wanted to update and expand upon it.




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About Geoffrey Cooling

Geoffrey Cooling is an Irish hearing care blogger and the author of The Little Book of Hearing Aids and Audiology Marketing in a Digital World. He has been involved in the Hearing Healthcare Profession since 2007 when he qualified as a hearing aid audiologist. He has worked in private practice and for a major hearing aid manufacturer. He has become recognised as an authority within the field of hearing care and hearing aids.

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