Hearing Pros Speak – The Role of the Spouse in the Counseling Process

We talked to some of our hearing professional customers to get their perspectives on the impact of having a spouse attend the appointment with the patient.  Here’s what they had to say.

“The spouse is critical to the process and usually the reason that the patient is there in the first place,” says Dusty Potter, President of Ear Level Communications. “No one buys hearing aids for themselves, and when they do, they tend to be a lower technology user, as spending more seems selfish. If you can get the patient to understand that they are buying hearing aids so people can communicate with them, rather than so they can hear other people, the sale is easier, and they will typically take the best option that they can afford. They may not think they’re worth it, but they think the other people in their lives deserve to be heard.  Also, the number one objection at the time of the test is “I need to talk to my wife/ husband”. Having them there all but eliminates the biggest barrier to the sale.”

“I get the spouse involved with the demonstration of the hearing aid’s features and having the spouse talk to them with the hearing aids on – both with quiet and background noise,” says Potter. “If they do better with the hearing aids than they do without them (and they should, otherwise I don’t really want them to buy them anyway), the spouse is sold, and will usually sell the patient for you. The TV streamer demonstration is also great for that. Spouses of the hearing impaired are plagued by the TV volume being too loud, and the Unite TV streamer is truly an answer to this issue.”

“I don’t find it as much of a factor in my practice,” says Thumper Johnson, audiologist at Mid Kansas ENT.  “It’s nice to have a spouse there because it’s a big financial decision and many people won’t make it without discussing it together.   For demonstrating something like the Mini Microphone, it is great to have the spouse.  This is such a benefit for them, they want it whether the hearing aid user does or not.   For the hearing aids, I find that the family usually pushes them to try a higher technology but doesn’t necessary make or break the initial sale.  I like to develop a relationship with both people so I like to have them there but it is not mandatory.”

“The significant others live with this loss everyday so asking them about the impact that the loss has on them is vital,” says Johnson.  “However, I work very hard to not talk to them instead of to the patient.  I think this happens a lot to the hearing impaired and it is demeaning to them.  I always ask a patient to rate the impact of their loss on their lives on a scale of 1-10 with 1 being no impact and 10 being severe.  I ask the family to rate the impact of the loss as well.  Almost always, the family rating is 2 points higher than the patient.  This is an eye opener to the patient.  Also, the reason that patients are being pushed for hearing help is because the significant others fear the withdrawal of the hearing impaired from their social interactions.  This “touches” the hearing impaired and makes it more of a “responsible” thing to do to help with communication.”

“Given how impactful the attendance of a spouse is on adoption rate, we actually incentivize our front desk staff based on third party attendance,” says Potter.  “We experience a 20% higher close rate when a spouse attends.”

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