Firstly, however, it is very pleasing that out of the 300,000 hearing aids sold in the UK, only 43 complaints were referred to BSHAA. Compared to other professions this is a very small percentage, something of which the profession should be proud. Whilst we should not be complacent, it seems that BSHAA members are providing a good service and are dealing with complaints themselves. BSHAA only becomes involved if the company reaches a stalemate with their client.
The low number of complaints that BSHAA received has proved the “buy with confidence” ethos of BSHAA members, and we continue to enrol members automatically into the Customer Care Scheme.
The Citizens Advice Bureau, Trading Standards Institute, HCPC and Action on Hearing Loss have continued their support of our conciliation scheme. It is particularly rewarding that The Trading Standards Institute had the confidence to refer a complaint to BSHAA in 2017/18.
The annual report looks at the complaints dealt with. Of the 43 complaints, four were not progressed by the client after initial contact with BSHAA, and two complaints were still in progress at the year-end. The report sets out how the remaining 37 complaints were resolved, and draws some key lessons for professionals.
When a complaint is received, respond quickly to your client. It further exasperates clients to have to chase up a complaint.
Especially when clients have poor residual hearing and any gain will only be marginal.
Be aware of clients who might need more support and perhaps see them twice in the trial period. Don’t wait for them to get in touch with problems, especially if they have a severe hearing loss.
If your client is having problems, either extend the trial period in writing or remind them about the end date of the trial period. Don’t keep assuring the client that the issues will be sorted out and it then becomes a rolling trial period and too late for your client to get a refund or the business to receive a manufacturer’s credit.
If clients insist on a certain model of aid but the audiologist considers that a different type of aid will give a better outcome, record this conversation in the client record. Consider following this up with a letter to your client. This action avoids them claiming that they were not advised.
If aids have to be frequently serviced by the audiologist or returned to the manufacturer for service/repairs due to wax/poor client hygiene, advise your client of the reason for the repair and counsel them on how to clean them. Record that you have had this conversation.
Consider sending your client a letter after the end of the trial period thanking them for their custom and that you were pleased that their hearing outcome had been positive.