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Gordon Young
Editor-in-chief at The Drum

How Amplifon and Publicis Sapient made some noise with an app to support hearing aid users

Publicis Sapient won the ‘Heathcare and Pharma’ category at The DADI Awards 2019 with its ‘Amplifon Hearing App’ campaign for Amplifon. Here, the agency reveals the challenges faced and the strategies used to deliver this successful project.

The challenge

Hearing loss is the third most common physical condition behind arthritis and heart disease, affecting people of all ages. Around 466 million people worldwide have disabling hearing loss, 34 million of which are children. Incredibly, 60% of childhood hearing loss is due to preventable causes.

Unaddressed hearing loss poses an annual global cost of US$750 billion. Interventions to prevent, identify and address hearing loss are cost-effective and can bring great benefit to individuals, however, it takes most people who need them around seven years to get fitted for hearing aids. And if that weren’t enough of a problem, once they have their devices, many don't use them enough or they choose to stop wearing them altogether, citing a range of issues.

Amplifon asked us to design a service to help their customers get comfortable with their hearing aids, learn how to use them quickly and simply and get the maximum benefit to ensure continued use.

The strategy

We wanted to create a friendly and helpful user experience that eliminates any common issues that occur with an everyday usage of hearing aids, affecting the lifestyle of their users. In order to do this, we worked closely with Amplifon, audiologists and patient groups to identify the common problems hearing aid users have with their devices.

Our research focused on initial barriers to use, adoption and sound issues and the long-term experience, with reference to device adjustments and product upgrades.

The campaign

We created the world’s first hearing aid app that connects to the vast majority of Bluetooth-enabled hearing aids. We wanted to allow customers to take complete control of their hearing aid devices - including volume, hearing direction and environment settings - in a discreet way. This has the dual effect of increasing usability and adherence and at the same time helping users feel less self-conscious or stigmatised.

In addition, we created an AI-ready companion service that actively helps customers overcome challenges they might face. These include daily reminders, real-time feedback, tips and encouragement. Customers can also use the app to locate their nearest store and book appointments as well as receive technical support, including tutorials and FAQs, for added usability and convenience.

Our core target group is digital-savvy 40 to 60-year-old customers living an active lifestyle. A growing ageing population is one of the mega trends that will affect society over the next several decades.

We paid specific attention to smartphone take-up for the demographic to ensure the technology would be used widely and customers would derive the full benefit from the app. Starting with extensive user research and service design work, we developed all detailed specifications, screen designs, complete visual identity, custom iconography and branded motion design.

We designed smart programs that adapt to the users’ surroundings. They can now also fine-tune settings like hearing direction and noise-reduction depending on the environment and time of day.

For the Companion, we designed a unique, digital service that learns and reacts to the user's behaviour. In response it provides useful tips, reminders and encouragement to ensure they get the maximum benefit out of their hearing aids. Moving forward we are responsible for the creative direction of all content being produced for the app, including new functionality to make it even more valuable for customers.

The Amplifon Hearing App is a representation of digital transformation within the world of medical devices that allows intuitive usage in numerous environmental situations. It pushes the boundaries and definitions of using a standard hearing aid, providing patients with an interactive mobile experience that can only further enhance the benefits of using such a medical device.

The results

For Amplifon, the app presents a crucial building block in the company's digital transformation strategy. While satisfying the changing needs of Amplifon’s core target group, it helps to position the brand with a younger generation. Finally, the app underlines Amplifon’s status as the leader in hearing care by enabling new digital services that enrich the overall customer experience - especially after-sales - ultimately increasing customer satisfaction, retention and loyalty.

The Amplifon app has already been launched in Italy, and is being launched in several new countries worldwide as well as other versions of the client brand in North America, EMEA and APAC.

To date, the Amplifon app has been downloaded over 10,000 times, which is well beyond the original 4000 expected downloads. All of this with an active user base of 15%, or almost eight times the expected 2%. Furthermore, on the day of the launch, Amplifon shares rose by 10%, and since announcing its digital transformation strategy, it has achieved compound EPS growth of 50% per year and stock price growth of 276%.

In terms of sales, the expectation was to see an increase in conversion of roughly 2%, which has been more than doubled and currently sits at 5%. Within the target, the penetration is 15%, five times the desired penetration that justified the original business case.

The Amplifon team grew from three to more than 15 people, representing a clear win in terms of skills growth in what was an amazing achievement for our main stakeholder.

The project was a winner at The Drum DADI Awards 2019.

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