It’s finally happened.
A product has reached the market from a well-respected technology brand that promises to be for the millions of people that are not yet ready to become prescription hearing aid wearers.
The Jabra Enhance Plus has been released, and the distribution model pushes people towards one of the 800+ certified centers across the US to purchase the product.
It’s a highly respectable approach that ensures that hearing care professionals are an integral part of the buying process and ensures that accurate hearing assessments occur before the product is recommended.
Many of the certified centers have now got their hands on six sets of devices. Some are advertising the product on their websites, and some are contacting their Tested Not Sold database to share the news.
There’s a mix of excitement, anticipation, and slight bewilderment in the air.
The biggest challenge is that many clinics are slightly confused about where this product sits and how they should fit it or sell it.
I’ve had conversations with clinics that want it to be very transactional where patients collect, then walk off to take care of themselves … and I’ve spoken to others that are building care plans to support the fitting and follow-up without comprising the level of service their core patients receive.
At this stage, it’s almost impossible to know who has the right approach and who has the wrong approach as we all have so little data/information on how good the product is, what the fitting process looks like, and what type of support the patient may need along with the product.
With so many question marks, there are some big risks if you get this wrong. In this article, I want to share the two biggest risks we all have to be wary of and the steps that I believe you can take to successfully build a long-term OTC strategy into your clinic.
Risk #1 – The Expectation Gap 🤔
Many clinics have an expectation that the patient couldn’t possibly expect support and follow-up care with this product due to the low price. However, the patient who is being asked to invest close to $1000 in YOU for a solution to their hearing problem will likely think otherwise.
The problem is that if the product fails to deliver to the patient’s expectations (something you cannot control), then this could turn very messy. You could have patients complaining to you, claiming refunds, or even worse, blaming you and tarring your reputation.
And although it won’t be your fault, the patient will only have you to blame.
For example … if you went to Best Buy to purchase a Samsung television, and then the television didn’t work when you got home, would you feel aggrieved at Best Buy or Samsung? The likelihood is that Best Buy would be to blame.
It’s why I would be given extra focus to three areas.
✔️ Setting very clear expectations with patients – be clear that they’re one of the first people in the world to buy the technology and that you’re eager to hear their feedback (have them understand that you’re on their team)
✔️ Ensuring patients are aware of the return period, and make them understand they have a very simple “get out clause” – this may save your reputation if the technology doesn’t meet their expectations
✔️ Tell the truth. Do not tell people how great this product is to try to drive sales if you’re yet to actually discover if it’s great – it may just bite you in the ass!
I strongly believe that taking a slow approach is the right way to go and that you must be very clear with patients up-front. You want to have patients join you on a journey of discovery, not buy the solution.
Risk #2 – Short-Term Planning
Although we’re all focused on the Jabra Enhance Plus, if we hypothetically put ourselves 12 months into the future, it’s likely that several other big technology brands will have released their over-the-counter solution.
It means that the decisions we’re making in our approach to over-the-counter today are likely going to impact the decisions we may have to make in the future.
If we make knee-jerk reactions to shout that the Jabra Enhance Plus is the best over-the-counter product and make too much noise to our database, then we either have to keep shouting about every new OTC device that is launched (something that will burn trust with your database) or make a clear decision to only stock one of them.
It’s another reason why the slow game may be the smart long-term approach.
That’s why I’m encouraging our Inner Circle members to be the trustworthy source for information, even if it comes at the potential cost of short-term sales.
Many of our members are currently leaning on their tested-not-sold database to invite them to TRIAL the Enhance Plus with no commitment. The aim of the trial is to collect real-life user feedback. This feedback will then be published along with their opinion on the website.
The plan is to win the long-term trust game. For every OTC device, they will rinse and repeat the same process to build a library of real-life case studies for every device that reaches the market.
So in just 12 months, they’ll have documentation through their website of real-life feedback that helps them determine which OTC devices they proudly stock and which they don’t believe deliver the objectives for their patients based on user feedback.
They’ll be the trusted source of information, and what they say/advise will hold so much more power. It means their word can be relied upon, and they’ll grow local influence within their community.
Consider your long-term over-the-counter play — it shouldn’t be a knee-jerk reaction.
Your Next Steps
Although nobody has the answers at this time, and there are many different directions you can go, I believe the best approach is to take this slowly.
Before you promote any solution to people’s problems, it’s important that you’re confident in the device and have your fitting process defined.
The only way to do that is to get your hands dirty and find people that can trial the technology.
Although the slow game is unattractive and it’s not the profitable route – it means that you can protect your reputation and learn key lessons that will ensure you’re several steps ahead when new over-the-counter technology starts to emerge.
Look at this as a marathon. Do not set off by sprinting.