HOW IS TRUST CREATED IN CLINICS?

How can the interior design of your clinic strengthen trust between you and your patients? We invited an expert to a hearing aid clinic to get some pointers.
Mark Mallindine is a London-based architect, whose work includes developing retail spaces. He is visiting Chichester Hearing Care Centre, a brand new clinic in the South of England, to give us some insights about how interior design helps in developing trust in hearing aid clinics.
Comfortable yet professional
As he looks around the clinic, Mark Mallindine observes, “Whether you will succeed in creating a trust-generating atmosphere in a hearing aid clinic depends, to a large extent, on whether the clinic comes across as both comfortable and professional. On the one hand it’s important, when choosing the colours, the furniture and the lighting, that it makes people relax and feel welcome. The waiting area must have a welcoming feeling to it, which means warmer colours, soft lighting and comfortable furniture. A look, obviously, which does not have ‘clinic’ written all over it.”

On the other hand, when clients visit the clinic, their main concern is about whether staff are adequately qualified to provide them with the best help and guidance possible. In order to communicate those skills, you need to radiate professionalism.

Pointing to a framed poster that depicts how the ear works, Mark Mallindine gives the following advice:

Pointing to a framed poster that depicts how the ear works, Mark Mallindine says, “That poster should be bigger and have a far more prominent position in the room. These are wonderful pieces of machinery right there on the sides of our heads. Bring that type of information forward to indicate that you take pride in your professionalism.”
Brand consistency
Getting the interior right has everything to do with branding.

“The brand must be crucial, mustn’t it?” says Mark Mallindine. “It is an important tool, when it comes to communicating consistency. It’s not only about the logo; it’s about everything that’s here in the clinic. The better you’re able to express the brand here, in the clinic, the more likely it is that the brand stays with even potential clients, who just happen to stroll by.”
It’s not just about selling, it’s about trust. But that does not mean that you should focus less on the brand, it just means that you work with the brand in a different way
- Mark Mallindine, architect
Conventional retailers are experts in this, having invested so much time and money in getting it right, and tracking their customers’ reactions to even the tiniest changes in the retail spaces. And yet a hearing aid clinic is something else. You can buy an expensive product for sure, but everything else bears a closer resemblance to visiting your doctor.
Trust is the key
So your clinic should be comfortable, yes certainly, and professional too, and striking the right balance between the two can be hard enough. But how posh should you be? The products are expensive and sophisticated and clients spend a lot of money at the clinic. But surely it isn’t a Gucci store we’re struggling to imitate?

“Clients do spend a lot of money here, you shouldn’t forget that,” says Mark Mallindine. “Don’t park your Porsche out front, if that’s what you drive, but if you aspire to positioning yourself somewhat high in the market, that’s what your clinic should reflect. Tasteful furniture of high quality and as little visual clutter as possible. Details like whether accessories and supplies are openly displayed or kept in closed cupboards indicate a level of exclusivity as well.”

Beyond this though, is the importance of trust, which cannot be overestimated.

“When people enter the clinic, at least on that first, tremendously important visit, they are insecure, hesitant and uncertain about what to expect,” says Mark Mallindine.

“I think many hearing aid clinics could benefit from seeking inspiration in other industries, where this issue has been prominent for decades. It might be that audiologists are ambitious and focused on their core competencies to an extent where they sometimes underestimate the importance of getting other, less essential, things right. Like having a clinic decorated in a way that radiates trust by applying every trick in the book,” Mark Mallindine says.

We would like to extend thanks to Robert Davies, owner of South East Hearing Centres, for graciously welcoming us into his Chichester clinic and sharing his experience with us.
Where to look for inspiration
Mark Mallindine recommends that hearing aid clinics should consider two types of businesses to find inspiration when it comes to creating trust-generating environments.

One is high-end clinics, for instance dental and cosmetic surgery clinics. These are selling often very expensive treatments so it is essential that they appear warm and welcoming, as well as extremely professional. One way to reflect this is to use high-quality yet discreet furniture, warmer colours such as brown, dark green, gold and so on and a somewhat minimalistic style with no visual clutter - nothing lying around, not too many brochures stacked on the coffee table, and limiting the strong desire to display products and accessories.

The other source of inspiration is high-end retailers such as clothes and jewellery shops. Creating a good in-store experience in these environments is a science, with every detail studied meticulously. Thus, they often get it right. “Less is more” is a genuine piece of advice here. If you’re selling a wonderfully sophisticated yet physically diminutive piece of technology, display only a few of those pieces. Generate interest by suggesting to potential clients that they look closer to study the magic of the high-end hearing aid.
Valuable insights:
Work strategically with your brand. Apply the right amount of brand presence at the clinic.

1. The choices you make when it comes to colors, lighting, decoration and furniture equals – ideally, and as long as it’s done in good taste – a position on the continuum between comfortable and professional. Find the right position!

2. Beware of clutter. Clients have enough on their minds at it is. A calm environment is a breeding ground for trust.

3. Look for warm colors in order to create a relaxed atmosphere.

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