Signia is one of the 14 brands under the WS Audiology (WSA) umbrella. Formed in 2019 through the merger of Sivantos and Widex, WSA is a global hearing aid manufacturer, with its headquarters in Denmark and another U.S.-based headquarters in Iselin, NJ. Through several transitions in its 140 years of experience in the hearing industry, the company leverages its experience with innovation to develop a firm foundation that enables it to be a key player in the hearing space today.
Signia has grown to be one of the leading hearing aid brands worldwide. Through its B2B member-focused Aspire program, mutually-beneficial relationships are formed to help audiologists and other hearing loss professionals serve their patients while building successful practices. For those members, Aspire delivers opportunities to choose the benefits they need as they grow and strengthen their businesses.
Mark Johnson, CEO of Loyalty360, spoke with Stephanie Miller, Senior Loyalty Program Manager at Signia Aspire, about engaging members through the “three pillars” of its B2B loyalty program, offering a “white glove service,” and building meaningful relationships with member practices.
Read the full interview on Loyalty360 here: https://loyalty360.org/content-gallery/in-depth-exclusives/signia-aspire-prioritizing-meaningful-relationships-with-b2b-customers-produce-loyal-program-member
Good afternoon and good morning. This is Mark Johnson from Loyalty 360. Hope everyone's happy, safe and well. One to welcome you back to another edition are leaders in customer loyalty series. In this series we speak with leading brands about what they are seeing and hearing on the front lines of customer channel and brand loyalty. Today we have the pleasure of speaking with Stephanie Miller. She's a senior loyalty program manager at Signia. Thank you very much for taking the time to talk to us, stephanie, welcome.Stephanie Miller:
Oh, mark, thanks so much. I appreciate the invitation.Mark Johnson:
First off, tell us a little bit about yourself, all you do at Signia, maybe a little bit about your work history, things you did before Signia, and also maybe a fun fact about yourself, something you enjoy doing outside of work.Stephanie Miller:
Sure To tell you a little bit about myself. I've been in the hearing industry for almost 25 years I know I don't look it, but I did start at that time about 25 years ago and I'll kind of combine the fun fact. At the same time I started working for a company called Siemens which sold hearing aids. That company today is now WSA. I actually was here with the organization at Siemens for about 10 years left to get a little bit more greener under the digital marketing space, because that's where I want to kind of learn and grow. Then I came back about nine years later and that was then Savantos, and then it switched over to WSA Audiology, which is the company that I'm representing and speaking about today.Mark Johnson:
For those who may not be familiar with Signia, we'd love to have a short history of the program, the company. Guess what you guys do, how you do it, who you do it with? I know you touched on that a little bit, but if you could add a little more to that, that'd be great.Stephanie Miller:
So Signia is one of about 14 brands under the WSA umbrella. Wsa, or WS Audiology, is a global hearing aid manufacturer. Their headquartered, the global headquartered, is in Denmark, here in the US, is in New Jersey. We are the US headquarters as far as the history it's, even though we've had a few transitions from where we were to where we have over 140 years of experience in this space, even though Signia itself or WSA, is still new, but truly it has the background and the foundation that it makes itself a very key player in this hearing space. In fact, every three hearing aids sold, one of them is a WSA or WS audiology hearing aid. So globally we have a pretty big footprint.Mark Johnson:
Can you give us a brief overview of your loyalty program, the Signia Aspire program? Very unique program, but how does the program work? How do members engage with the program and what are some of the benefits of being in the program?Stephanie Miller:
The Aspire program is a loyalty program that's offered with the Signia brand or the Signia hearing aids that we offer, and it is part of our business model for our customers or our members who are part of the top 20 of our business revenue. So it's really like a white glove service, a white glove type of program for those who are very loyal to our program and with that they have a couple of different options when they sign up. That's not even options. We give them the avenues that they can work in and everything is still available to them, like our baseline benefits, which are benefits that when they sign up, even if they don't choose anything else, these are going to automatically be given to them, be it points or co-op dollars. But on top of that then we have these benefits that we call just bonus benefits and those are the ones that they can select from, because we know that every customer has a different journey, has a different path of how they want to navigate their practice, their business, how they want to engage with their customers. So those bonus benefits help them customize from where their vantage point on the business side. And then the third pillar, or the third part of this, is the Aspire Brilliant Benefits, which we recently just launched about a year ago, or not even actually in January, so it just feels longer at this point. But the idea is those brilliant benefits are now leveraging our partnerships with other industry manufacturers or suppliers in this industry, along with leveraging some of the outside of industry service suppliers. The idea is that we have these partnerships with them and they have an opportunity to work with them directly. But we've leveraged our relationship with them so they can get a little bit of a break, work with them directly and still have that tag of being an aspiring member.Mark Johnson:
So the program is somewhat complex in its design, but because you provide these clear pillars within the program, it also sounds like it would be fairly easy to navigate, even with some of the inherent complexity.Stephanie Miller:
Because we do have such a wide range of opportunities within Aspire, it does get a little complex as far as you know. What are my benefits, how do I sign up, who do I talk to? Because there is those different spaces but it's all under one umbrella and that's the idea is that they have to just come to the site and then from there kind of navigate their path under our baseline program, under the baseline benefits themselves. We have not only the points and co-op dollars to help them market themselves or help to purchase through our catalog. They get continuing education because we actually build courses so they can get continuing education which gives them CEUs if they are certified in some of the associations that you need to stay in practice, along with lead generation. So we do our own marketing campaigns as Signia, as a company, but we give our Aspire members priority first if they're a close enough member to that patient or future patient that can be walking in their door.Mark Johnson:
And one of the things that's unique about the Aspire program is allows opportunities for direct to you discounts for products and services, including hotel and car rentals, business intelligence, reporting, financial services, staffing support and vendor of the month type opportunities. It allows the hearing specialists and the audiologists to do what they do best right, that is, you know, run their business, help people hear better something they have a passion for. So you take some of those other challenges out of the equation. You know how do these opportunities keep members engaged within the Aspire program?Stephanie Miller:
So our brilliant benefits is what we're talking about here, with all the multiple levels of services or opportunities or discounts and that's something that I mentioned earlier that we launched this January and between. Having vendor for the month means that every month, our members and our sales team can actually coordinate and talk about what they might get an added discount or an exclusive package based off of that particular vendor that we've negotiated or discussed a package with or a discount with. So right off the bat, that's a monthly visit. We have our partnership with a couple of other outside vendors that are not in the industry but they support almost like employee resource center, where they can come and get the discounts before travel or for, if you want to buy an RV or or really focus within the practice, possibly to practice insurance. We have so many different levels of opportunity that we want our members to remember that they come to us just checking us out first just in case we were already negotiated something. And that's the idea. And again we tell ourselves team, don't forget to remind them like, hey, if they have a, an employee that's gonna have a in there in that practice at your visiting is gonna have a, an anniversary. Remind the owner. You can do flowers In dot-com or whatever the the services through the discount and they get a break and they get to still leverage that.Mark Johnson:
You know the power of being part of the Aspire membership you touch on this a little bit already, but partnerships are growing area of interest at Loyalty 360 Significant area of interest. We actually meet on the topic every two months within our brand community to talk about Partnerships what's working, what's not working. So when you look at partnerships with regard to Signia, you know how has your brand traditionally Approached partnerships and what makes them so successful.Stephanie Miller:
So I see partnerships almost two-fold. Partnerships for us are our partnerships with our vendors that are helping us make Aspire a great place to be a member of, and that that takes dedication and time to work with our partners to make sure that they are, yeah, getting what they need from us and, at the same time, we're able to get the services or the programs we're looking for that the aspire members are Also trying to seek out. Then we have the partnership with our actual members, and the, for me, partnership with our members is I Don't even like calling it a partnership, because then we can show that we are together in it, but I really love calling it just a relationship, because we really do. From our sales, you know field members that are on the ground talking to our members, to Anybody that they talked to within our organization. We we do build relationships with these hearing care professionals and audiologists, and a lot of times we know if they're celebrating an anniversary or if they're expanding on a new practice. So, and being part of the aspire member Membership is really just an added level. Like I said, it's a white glove service for these guys because they do so much for us, we want to give back. So even even if they don't, are not on the site, you know, tomorrow or today or whatever, but if we have a reminder that, hey, their birthday is coming up, we'll try to send them a note, a card, just to remind them that we didn't forget about you and we were thinking of you, and when you're here, we're ready for you. That's that sort of thing. So it's it's really about relationship building and we get a lot out of that because we we're in it together. We want them to succeed and that's how we, kind of you know, combine those two things together.Mark Johnson:
When you look at your organization's culture, you know what does it mean from a customer experience and customer loyalty effort. Is that something you work on to change or maintain, or is it somewhat inherent within the with the brand? And if so, you know what are the challenges and opportunities you see regarding culture and using that culture to draw better experiences in customer loyalty.Stephanie Miller:
So this is a bit of a loaded question. You know, we'd like to celebrate each other, our differences and all of that stuff at the same time, which is really nice. But the reason I'm saying it's a bit of a loaded question is because we really do converse with each other about the day-to-days and the ongoing stuff. But even when I was in a different role a few years back, a smile was really like a quiet, like a secret, Like you don't know that it's happening. And so that's where I feel like the culture, even though it is a tool, it is a platform to help our members and our customers grow. Sometimes it gets buried with all the other stuff. That's happening because at the end of the day, we're trying to sell hearing aids. So that's why the culture we really are very supportive of each other, but at the same time it's we have so many avenues of interest and priority, as sometimes the Aspire program doesn't really get the showcase it needs, and I think that happens with a lot of loyalty programs. So that's why we end up kind of like, hey, don't forget about ASPIRE and what it can do for your customer and how we can, you know, like bring up engagement and just all around, just show that we're loyal to them, and they'll start to reciprocate with more purchases, more interest. So yeah, so that's why I think it might be a two-fold or a loaded question. I'm not sure what they.Mark Johnson:
You know, another important topic we hear from brands is their increased interest in personalization. How are you, as a brand, looking at personalization and what does it mean to your brand and what are the challenges or opportunities that you see for personalization? And how are you working as a brand and a customer loyalty offering to improve your personalization efforts?Stephanie Miller:
Personalization for our overall organization is actually a really hot topic with us. Part of it is, I think, in our industry, and probably it's similar to our life. We have FOMO, like if you have something, I want it to, and once in a while we'll, you know, release new swag, be it a jacket for our team or some mugs and then when we go into the offices everybody's like I want that too, I want to. So we do the brand side of things and we have a very small offering of like our brand or our personalized swag. But we also realize that in our platform for our members they want to go ahead and do the same thing. They see Sydney walking in with their swag. So how can we get our swag when customers come into the practice? So we've been really lucky to be working with a partner that has been able to bring a vendor that can do personalized swag just for them. So it won't necessarily be co-branded Cygnia and you know ABC Hearing, but ABC Hearing was able to utilize the Aspire catalog to co or to brand their own swag, be it shirts or tote bags. Or even one of our customers came up to me she's so excited because she got the phone, the little pop thing for the back of the phone and she was like I can't wait to give these out. They're so excited. She's like I'm so happy. Thank you, Aspire, it was just so cute. It was like so everybody wants to see their name in lights, and so our co or our swag branding for the customer is a way for them to do that. So we're still working on the co-branding side.Mark Johnson:
Are there other programs, customer loyalty programs or brands that you are loyal to from a customer loyalty perspective and, if so, why? You know? What do you like about the program? What keeps you loyal to them?Stephanie Miller:
I'm going to share a little bit of my lazy side and I think everybody has this. So I like, and I like my Walgreens Rewards program, just because when I come in they're just like hey, by the way, you have this many dollars, you want to apply it to your bill today. I'm like, yes, absolutely, and I don't do anything special, right? So that's kind of like what I enjoy, because it's like let's leave the work behind if we can't, because our program is not as plug and play, of course, so it has to do with the number of units that are sold and all that other good stuff. So it is a little bit more work, but at the end of the day it's quite rewarding. It's not a hey, you got a $3.50 break on your bill. It's much bigger than that in so many aspects, from catalog shopping to courses to lead generation. So and we really do try to remind our customers that are part of the program it's not even it's not a price break, it's not like a discount on your hearing, it's just as a partnership or this relationship is what we want you to get out of it.Mark Johnson:
So yes, if we could be a little lazier.Stephanie Miller:
I don't know if that's the right word or just a little more plug and play. I think they would appreciate it. So, actually, another, when I was at the Loyalty 360 event, I was listening to Claudia Infante from Margaritaville. I love their program and it's kind of in that same way. It's like you don't have necessarily a, you don't have a ranking or something like that or a tier structure, which is like it's the opposite of what we do. But I love the fact that it's like hey, we know who you are, we see you participate in these locations or this how you use our brand or our program and I love that. it's kind of like already like ingrained in what they do on a day to day or whenever they're on vacation or going to the restaurant or something like that. So I like that program for its simplicity for the member. But I would love for it to like evolve to that. So, or maybe our, like I said we have those three pillars, maybe we could look at it if they just our members just signed up and they just take care of baseline. All I do is, just as long as you're buying with us, that's the plug and play, I guess.Mark Johnson:
The next question I have is somewhat self-serving. You know, what can Loyalty 360 do to help you and your customer loyalty? Program your efforts, your team's efforts.Stephanie Miller:
We've gotten a lot just from the interaction I've had with Loyalty 360. The other interviews that you shared with us or the newsletter, just like giving us like the news of what's going on in other industries. That helps us kind of take those nuggets and see if it's applicable to us or see if there's a way for us to have that aha moment. We could leverage that idea. So to me it's the feedback or the input that we get from, or I get from, Loyalty 360. That really has been a great like diving point to learn more. And, to be very honest, I was not in the loyalty space before I took on this role. You know I participated in the loyalty program. I've run away from quite a few. I'm like no, I'm not answering that phone call, but the truth is it's really nice to see where everybody else is at, see some of the pain points and know that we're not alone. Even though we're B2B more than B2C, like the loyalty space, there's still a lot of take home learning moments that I do get a lot of and I've been able to throw some ideas out there about how can we improve our program, just from what I've heard, you know or read about or was able to listen on an interview that's been shared. So keep doing what you guys are doing, because it's really it supports us a lot. I do believe that.Mark Johnson:
Stephanie, thank you very much for taking the time to speak with us today. We appreciate it. We look forward to hearing more about the Signia program in 2023. Thank you to everyone for listening today. Make sure you check back for additional episodes in our leaders and customer loyalty series soon. Have a wonderful day, thank you.