Nearly 500 million people—or 5 percent of the world’s population—are affected by hearing loss. By 2050, the World Health Organization projects that percentage to double, which means more than 900 million people will have some degree of hearing loss.
While hearing loss affects people of all ages, races, and ethnicities, the use of hearing aids is not so widespread. Only one-tenth of all hearing-impaired people use an assistive hearing device, and even fewer have had access to information about the latest hearing aid technologies.
audibene is on a mission to close that gap. As the largest and fastest-growing online provider of expert hearing care and modern hearing aids in Europe, audibene provides access to highly qualified hearing specialists and innovative hearing aid technology through its digital platform. Founded in 2012, the company’s business case was revolutionary: adapting and selling hearing aids online not only appealed to a market of younger, more tech-savvy users, but also helped spread information about hearing loss and innovations in the hearing aid industry more broadly.
Today, audibene has helped more than 100 thousand people on their journey to hearing better. The company’s bills much of its success to listening closely to its customers—and great communication is essential. Unfortunately, audibene’s previous out-of-the-box Computer Telephony Integration (CTI) system didn’t allow them to personalize customer journeys at scale.
As the business grew, Audibene needed to create unique experiences for its customers and consultants in order to take its platform engagement to the next level.
Now, audibene uses Twilio Flex to power its contact center, which supports over-the-phone evaluations between customers and expert hearing consultants. The customer is provided with personalized and manufacturer-independent advice to ensure their individual requirements are met. While the journey continues for the customers that need a hearing aid, some might not be in need at the time of the consultancy. To stay in touch with these, audibene uses Twilio Programmable Messaging for potential future needs.
For the customers that need a hearing aid and once the correct specifications and models have been finalized, a fitting appointment with an audiologist is scheduled. With 4.500 stores across the markets they operate in, audibene has the largest network of independent providers. However, distance is a limiting factor in hearing care. While some customers are in areas with various locations for an in-person fitting appointment, others in more rural areas can’t enjoy that luxury. For those, audibene created a unique teleaudiology solution that is currently available in Switzerland, the US, and Canada.
Once the appointment has been set, the company dispatches a FitKit containing a tablet with LTE connectivity, to power a device to detect hearing loss and hearing devices powered by Twilio Super SIM. After arrival and with the push of a button, the patient gets connected to an audiologist through video. This establishes an interpersonal relationship between the fitter and the customer – all while taking place in the comfort of the patient’s home. By providing the fitter with the live otoscopy data that is transferred via the SIM-connected tablet into a tailored agent desktop that is built on Twilio Programmable Video, the technician is then able to remotely diagnose the hearing loss and fine tune the hearing aid to the specific needs of the customer.
Lastly, once the fitting process is complete – whether it has taken place remotely or in-person – the consultant guides the customer through the purchasing steps and stays in touch with them through messaging. Thanks to the reliability of its Twilio Flex-powered platform, audibene is able to ensure its consultants are available to assist customers at any point throughout the entire process and on multiple communication channels including SMS and WhatsApp.
“We’ve always embraced technology at audibene. Twilio enables us to reach customers around the world, and by powering our teleaudiology solution we can now even enter new markets in which we previously couldn’t operate due to the low density in partner shops.”, said Tonio Knuth, Global Head of Technology Innovation at audibene.
It’s not just Audibene’s customers benefiting from the new Flex model. The company rebuilt its entire outbound dialing system on Twilio, enabling representatives to reach customers with far greater precision. From a call data perspective, audibene now has full access and transparency to ensure it’s tracking the most relevant metrics.
Consultant productivity has also gotten a boost now they are able to use a single dialing system, insteading of switching between set-ups—the simplification not only saves time, but also ensures customers get connected to the right consultant.
IoT connectivity helps audibene to reach more customers and gives its partners the ability to grow their customer base outside of their usual territory. Twilio Super SIM ensures instant access to over 400 global cellular networks, and an out-of-the-box experience.
“The flexibility we have with Twilio has been a game changer for us and we have big plans on how to optimize our communication set up for the future,” said Clara Stjernswärd (Technical Product Manager) at Audibene. “The support we have been getting from Twilio has been great, and we are looking forward to developing our platform together.”
As demand for hearing aids continues to increase, audibene plans to continue expanding its products and customer experiences to reach new generations of those with hearing loss. The team is working on open-source implementations of the video modules, building a native Twilio Video SDK and launching their Twilio-backed telemedicine solution in all current and new markets across the world.