custom hearing aids

How to increase client satisfaction with custom hearing aids

A recent initiative at Phonak revealed the top 3 reasons for returns. Learn about a new checklist you can use to identify ideal custom candidates and help avoid returns.

At Phonak there is always a new product coming around the corner.  But while we travel full steam ahead towards our next solution, but we always keep one eye in the rearview mirror, to check on previous ones.  

By looking both forward and backward, we can gather learnings from hearing care professionals (HCPs) and their clients about our current products, processes, or systems.   

While I knew we take feedback from our customers seriously, what I learned is that we are not only able to purposefully use data to determine trends and react. We are also able to use data to develop tools to help our HCPs and their clients overcome foreseen clinical challenges.  

Continuous improvement project for ITEs

Last Fall I worked on a continuous improvement exercise with Phonak colleagues around the world.  This multidisciplinary team consisted of product managers, engineers and audiologists from specialty business, operations, sales, clinical training, audiology, and marketing.

The problem we were addressing is that In-the-Ear (ITE) custom hearing aids have a relatively high return rate even though their features are appealing to many people: They are more discrete, easier to insert/remove, and are the preferred style by many first-time patients. 

To find out why ITEs are being returned (and how we can reduce return rates), we collected internal data.  Specifically, we looked at what was written down as the reason for return on Return for Credit forms for ITE hearing aids and asked hearing care professionals in the US to share their insights.

Learnings from internal data collection

There are 3 main reasons for returns:

1. Occlusion effect – Client cannot adjust to hearing self-generated sounds (e.g., vocalizing, chewing, swallowing).

2. Preference for more advanced/higher functionalities – Client might want more amplification at certain frequencies and/or Bluetooth streaming capabilities which are not provided by CIC/IIC* form factors.

3. Size/cosmetics – Client might not be happy because their expectation was for a smaller size or more discreet position in the ear.

Early discussions and a new checklist can help reduce return rates

With expectation management and smart counselling based on a client`s hearing history and history with hearing aids, HCPs can proactively nominate the right candidates for ITEs and ensure that they don`t drop out.

Based on the learnings from this exercise, we developed a client candidacy checklist. This checklist is a quick reference form that you can use as a discussion primer during consideration of an ITE hearing aid.  

It can help inform clients about what to expect, set their expectations right, and help to find out their priorities for a hearing aid, which can sometimes be not so explicit, and even not clear to them.

By identifying ideal custom candidates and setting expectations early, we believe you will see less returns in your practice.

*CIC (Completely-in-the-canal) and IIC (Invisible in-the-canal)


The client candidacy checklist is available on our website here.

To learn more about Phonak custom products, please visit the Virto Paradise product page.


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