How can the interior design of your hearing clinic strengthen trust between you and your clients? We invited an expert to a brand-new 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 hearing clinic in the South of England, to give us some insights about how interior design can create a trust-inspiring environment in hearing aid clinics.

1: Be 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.”

Mark Mallindine points to a framed poster that depicts how the ear works and 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.”

2: Be consistent in your branding

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.

3: Reflect your market position

Your clinic should strike the balance between comfortable and professional. But how posh should you be?

The products you sell are expensive and sophisticated, and “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 position 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.”

4: Radiate trust 

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

“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.

Finding the right 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.
Finally, remember to work strategically with your brand and apply the right amount of brand presence at your clinic.
To sum up, Mark Mallindine reminds you to:
  1. Find the right position for you! The choices you make when it comes to colours, lighting, decoration and furniture equals a position on the continuum between comfortable and professional.

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

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

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.

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