Which? 2018 Findings
I reviewed the 2018 Which report on best hearing aid providers on Hearing Aid Know recently. Yet again, Independent hearing aid providers came out on top. However, there were some pretty interesting titbits in the report that made me wonder.
Customers, who’d have em?
Comparison surveys like this do leave a lot to be desired. We are never sure of the value of the comparison. We don’t know whether the people surveyed have a great experience with the different providers and whether their scores are based on a comparison, or just solely on their experience with the provider they are reviewing.
However, even if the reviews are based solely on their experience with one provider, it does give us some clear understanding of how a cohort of people feels about their experience with that provider. I think it also confirms widely held beliefs in the marketplace.
Cheap is not value for money
One of the things that came out of the report was the concept that cheap does not mean value for money. For instance, they rated Specsavers good for price and price transparency, but it was only rated average for value for money.
The average price paid for a pair of hearing aids at Specsavers was said to be £1,767. This wasn’t the lowest average price paid, but it was close. The survey seems to suggest that Specsavers are cheap and transparent (probably based on the clear hearing aid prices on their website) but don’t deliver value for money.
Unfortunately, we can’t delve any deeper to understand why. I have so many questions, was it the service and aftercare, is it the efficacy of the aids? Why is cheap, not good value for money, did they feel that they would have to spend again to get better?
Scrivens got pasted
Scrivens came in for quite a beating with pretty abysmal scores across the survey except for their testing process. Scrivens, in fact, had the lowest average price for a pair of hearing aids at £1,583 in the study, but they came in lowest for product range, hearing aid appearance and suitability. Again, this seems to confirm the adage that cheap is not value for money.
Hidden push too hard
I suppose there is no surprise, but a cohort of consumers felt that Hidden pushed too hard. A considerable amount of people felt pressured when dealing with Hidden. They also felt that Hidden was not good with transparency, imagine!
It wasn’t just Hidden though, nearly a quarter (23%) of private hearing aid customers felt under some pressure to buy, and just over one in five (21%) felt that they were under pressure to select a more expensive option from a range of suggested products. This varied considerably between providers, with the most significant difference between Hidden Hearing and local independents.
This doesn’t necessarily tell us that much in fairness. People are people and pressure, is felt differently. I mean does a recommendation of mid-level hearing aid technology based on lifestyle needs count as pressure to select a more expensive option?
Average prices paid for hearing aids
The average amount spent on a pair of hearing aids, was £2,475. The lowest average price paid by Which? members for a pair of hearing aids was with Scrivens at £1,583.
The highest average price paid for a pair of hearing aids with local independents was £3,217.74. Average prices paid at other chains for a pair of hearing aids were £2,657 at Amplifon. £2,882 at Hidden Hearing. £3,646 at Boots and £1,767 at Specsavers.
Again to be clear, that is average price based on survey respondents and may have no realistic bearing on average prices paid.
I think there are some learnings that we can take from the survey and I will split them up into categories:
Consumers appear to know enough to understand when staff are knowledgeable. They also highly value customer service and attentiveness. Train your damned staff.
Consumers value best practice testing procedure and appear to recognise it when they see it. You need to ensure that you are following best practice testing and fitting procedures. Design your workflows to meet those needs.
Consumers want to be offered a choice from an extensive product range. They have strong feelings about the appearance of the devices and their feelings about the suitability of the aids you recommend or provide are important. You need to take time and energy to address these issues and work them into your consultation strategy.
Cheap, is not necessarily good. That is an important lesson. If you are costing your hearing aids at a price that ensures you can’t deliver good follow up and aftercare, well then you will not be seen as offering true value for money.
I think the key lesson here is that no matter what price you charge, you need to deliver what the consumer feels is true value for money.
You can see the overall scores in the table below. I am hoping to get a bit more information soon and if I do, I will publish it.