Purchasing a digital hearing aid is an important step in obtaining increased quality of life for people with hearing loss. There are many things to consider when deciding on the right hearing aid, such as brand, quality and price, but one of the most important considerations is the quality of the hearing aid provider, and the level of customer service it offers to clients throughout the life of the digital hearing aid.
Accept Nothing Less than the Best Customer Service
We have all dealt with the pain of poor customer service at some time in our lives. A quality product can quickly turn into a hassle if the provider does not offer consistently fair and reliable service. This is especially true with products that influence and affect daily living as much as a digital hearing aid. It is essential that you understand the level of service that can be expected of a hearing aid provider before you purchase, rather than face an unpleasant surprise later because you did not do your research.
First, it is important to understand the ultimate goal of the customer service department of a potential hearing aid provider. It seems obvious that a customer support department should exist solely to provide support to potential and current customers that have issues that need to be resolved or questions about digital hearing aid products. Unfortunately, many providers pay their customer service and sales departments based on commission, and the reps’ motives often change from providing the client with the right product and service for his or her needs to upselling the client to ensure he or she purchases the most expensive digital hearing aid. Ask the hearing aid provider that you are considering purchasing from how it compensates its employees to ensure that you are getting the appropriate product for your needs instead of the product that will make the rep the most money.
Make Sure “Money-Back Guarantee” Really Means Money Back
A reputable hearing aid provider will provide guarantees to clients to assure them that it believes in the quality of its products and that clients have a course of action to follow if they are ever unsatisfied. It is important to ask potential hearing aid providers if they offer a trial period, how long the trial period lasts, and what is required to obtain a refund if unsatisfied with the digital hearing aid. A quality hearing aid provider will have a “no questions asked” policy during the trial period and allow its clients to return the product in the box for a full refund with no further explanation needed. It is crucial to find out exactly what is entailed in a money-back guarantee because many providers ask endless questions before fulfilling the requested return or require clients to wait an extended period of time for processing. Reputable digital hearing aid providers credit a customer’s account the same day that they receive the returned product.
Another important element when evaluating quality guarantees is the manufacturer’s warranty. Ask potential providers what types of damage their warranties cover and for what length of time. Make sure that you read the fine print! A quality warranty, backed by a reputable hearing aid provider, should cover every type of damage but loss. The beauty of choosing a digital hearing aid manufacturer that is also the provider is that you are going straight to the source with your issues. Traditionally, if you purchased a hearing aid from a local provider and it got damaged, you had to take it in for a damage assessment. Nine times out of ten, the provider may have the skills to repair it, but if the damage requires more extensive repair, it has to send the hearing aid to the factory to be fixed. The factory has anywhere from three days to a week to fix it and ship it back to the provider. Then, the client has to return to the local provider to pick it up. With an online manufacturer and hearing aid provider, if a dog chews up a customer’s digital hearing aid, the customer ships it straight to the manufacturer, who can have it fixed and shipped back to the customer’s home in as little as three days.
Finally, ask for any explanation of fees or charges that may be assessed by a hearing aid provider during the course of doing business with them. When dealing with returns, it is the industry standard to charge a restocking fee, sometimes as much as 10% of the total sale, which could be upwards of five hundred dollars. Also, ask if you are responsible for shipping charges for returns, repairs and exchanges. These types of fees can add up over time and should not be the responsibility of the client.
Choose a Hearing Aid Provider that Manufactures Its Own Products
In addition to the warranty perks, there are additional product benefits of buying a digital hearing aid straight from an online manufacturer. Things that were traditionally impossible for local dealers are done every day by online hearing aid manufacturers. Traditionally, if a client went to a local hearing aid provider with a custom digital hearing aid fit request, most providers would look at their limited spec sheets from the manufacturers that they represent and tell them that none of their manufacturers offer that style or fit. An online manufacturer and provider is only inhibited by the shape of the client’s ear and can tailor designs and manufacture custom digital hearing aids for special cases. These providers are not stifled by what is shown on a spec sheet from outside manufacturers.
Ask the provider about its upgrade policy. The best hearing aid providers will offer upgrades to existing clients’ aids, adding the newest technology to the outdated aid for a fee less than the cost of a brand new digital hearing aid.
Researching the type of digital hearing aid that fits your needs best is just the first in many steps to a hassle-free hearing aid purchase experience. Your interaction with the hearing aid provider will last far longer than the initial purchase, so it is essential that you ask key questions to ensure that it offers the level of service that you require during the life of the digital hearing aid.
About the Author
Henry Smith, a 26-year veteran in the hearing aid industry, is the founder of America Hears, a leading manufacturer and distributor of hearing aids online. Henry started the company in 1979, following a 15-year career at the Pennsylvania School of the Deaf, including his work as an Acoustic Technician. Henry is a pioneer in the use of computers and the Internet to allow customers to have a hands-on approach to the tuning and adjusting of their digital hearing aids. He strives to be customer-centric in all aspects of his work.