“National Protect Your Hearing” Month: An Opportunity to Fine-tune Customer Service

“National Protect Your Hearing” Month: An Opportunity to Fine-tune Customer Service

by Monique Hammond – hearing impaired author &current president of the Twin Cities Chapter of the Hearing Loss Association of America (HLAA TC)

October is national protect your hearing month. During this month, a special focus is put on the prevention of noise-induced hearing loss. As the general public is reminded to preserve hearing health, how are those with treated hearing loss figured into the discussion? The issue is that the possibility of further hearing damage from excess noise exposures is often not raised by professionals. With so many topics to cover during aural rehabilitation sessions ear protection options tend to fall through the cracks. Closing this gap is both a wise and necessary move in the interest of improved customer service.

Hearing protection is for everyone.

In my meetings and community presentations, I have found that people with hearing aids often show little awareness of how excess sound levels can still be dangerous. What I have learned from hearing aid users is that that the general issue of noise often figures in initial evaluations with their specialists, but once a loss is determined, protection of residual hearing is not an essential part of their hearing-loss-education.

Aren’t hearing aid settings and features all-protective?”

A gentleman recently shared with me that he rides his motorbike certain that his devices take care of the ruckus. He then wondered about a possible connection between his rides and the aids’ need for repair. Of course, in such cases the prevailing recommendation is to see the hearing professional without delay for a reality check.

Help them do better and you will do better.

Yes, there is a lot to talk about hearing loss prevention during the month of October. The cue to push for protecting and preserving hearing is also a reminder to make a formal discussion on these topics a necessary part of patient education ─ every day of every month. Use social media, emails and print newsletters to reinforce your message.

Once more the wise words of poet Maya Angelou apply: “When you know better, you do better.” Helping patients do better, with a well-rounded hearing-loss-education curriculum, goes a long way to establish the trust relationship that is at the core of the all-important long-term patient/specialist relationship. You care, and that makes your practice stand out from others’.

Risk assessment: What do patients know?

October is indeed a good time for having a dialogue with your patients on the dangers of excessive sound levels and on how to protect still intact or leftover hearing (yes, even while wearing hearing aids). The door is open this month for probing patients’ knowledge and misconceptions regarding excess sound. Encourage clients to come in for check-up and discuss how to prevent further damage.

Some topics to address might include:

  • Do they feel that hearing aids alone protect them?
  • What are the current noise levels in their lives: at work, at home or during leisure activities?
  • Do they ever protect their ears and how?
  • Do they know the sound volume danger limits?
  • How do they estimate noise levels? Chart? Got a phone app?

The answers obtained during these conversations become the basis for personal risk assessments, which lead to a refresher on ear-noxious noise levels, the truth about their hearing aids, ear protection options and general tactics for dealing with dB assaults.

The topic of hearing protection also offers a chance to inquire about family attitudes toward noise. As patients learn, enroll their help to teach others about the importance and ways of preserving their hearing, especially children and grandchildren. Give your patients the tools to pass forward what is learned. Teach them to keep loved ones from ending up with a type of hearing loss that is totally preventable.

In the end, small changes can make a big difference in customer satisfaction and as American businessman and author Michael LeBoeuf tells us: “A satisfied customer is the best business strategy of all.”

Hard to Accept Truths About Hearing Aids

Thoughts on Some Hard-to-Accept Truths

about Hearing Loss & Hearing Aids

by Hearing Impaired Pharmacist, Author & Advocate – Monique Hammond

Certainly, digital hearing aids have helped many people with hearing loss beyond their wildest dreams. However, there are those pesky misunderstandings or secrets that keep plaguing the average hearing aid customer and maybe for good reason.

Hearing loss in itself is hard to understand and hearing instruments are advanced technology that is unfamiliar to people.

It is also important to remember that clients may be seriously biased by exceedingly optimistic ads, the promises of which they would love so much to believe.

Might overly inflated expectations of what hearing aids can actually deliver get in the way of customer satisfaction?

Although the following truths have been amply written about and may seem old-hat to professionals they are news to clients and I can personally attest to that. These are popular issues causing their share of disappointment and even anger throughout the world of hearing loss. It is important to address them up-front as honesty turns out to be the preferred policy for a productive patient-specialist relationship.

> Hearing will never be normal again. The aim is to do the best with what is left.

Although people may recognize that hearing aids will not fix their hearing it is human nature to hope for “normal” or at least quality hearing from modern-day technology that is so promising and that is also quite pricey. It is hard to accept that hearing aids are just that – aids.

> It takes time to get used to hearing through an instrument. Return trips for tuning are necessary.

Computer technology leads people to expect speedy hearing results. Their trust dwindles as the number of adjustment trips rises. Follow-up appointments that are scheduled before the patient leaves the clinic tend to make it “official” that the first settings are neither final nor optimal.

> In spite of advanced technology even digital hearing aids struggle with distance. Efficiency drops the further one is from the sound source.

Surprised hearing aid trainees often voice frustration when finding that they still strain to hear across the living room or around the huge conference table at work. Are assistive devices acceptable? Also, reminders about hearing aid memories to assist in such communication situations do help. People often forget about them or they never understood when or how to use them.

> Understanding speech in noise remains an issue (and a challenge) that even the fastest processors do not handle perfectly in the here-and-now.

This is the biggest challenge for those with hearing loss. Finding out on their own that, although somewhat improved, they still understand little in louder places makes them wonder why they got instruments in the first place: Embarrassing after all this fuss and expense – as one man put it. Discussions about directional microphones, memories and tips for communicating more efficiently in noisier environments are sure to be welcome.

> What are Telecoils?

We are looping America and this is technology that all people with hearing aids should know about, yet many are still not aware. Do they have T-coils? Are they activated? What are they good for? Finding out from others about the advantages of listening through a loop in background noise undermines the trust in their specialist.

Buying and fitting hearing aids is a journey for both patients and specialists and every case is different. Be an empathetic teacher who sets the record straight on what hearing aids can and cannot deliver ─ clients will find out anyway somewhere down the line. Soften the blow on the hard-to-accept hearing loss truths: Discuss assistive listening devices and offer tips for communicating in challenging situations. Also, stress the importance of protecting residual hearing.

Although they might balk at first most people do appreciate the honesty, which is a confidence and trust builder. And trust is a must for a successful hearing aid purchase and for a solid client/specialist relationship: Trust in the competence of the professional and trust that the patient’s best interest guides the fitting and sales process.

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