I originally got a call from a hospital-based SLP who I had not encountered before. She was just this side of hostile, explaining that a family of a patient had found us online, and wanted to be evaluated on our device. Then she informed me she’d never heard of me or our company, who were we, did we accept insurance, etc. I later found out that the patient had been evaluated unsuccessfully with Tobii’s TD pilot eye gaze, their i-series device, as well as two other machines, so the call and research by the family was out of desperation.
Even with the family’s enthusiasm, I knew I had some work to do if I was to get an appropriate write up. The SLP and I established some common ground (my family used to go to Jekyll Island, south of Savannah for years – that kind of thing) and told her about some of our larger clients, with an offer to provide trusted references. She agreed that was a good idea and they were provided.
4-5 days later I talked specifics with the family, and the conversation was decidedly “lighter” and more productive. She shared that the daughter was the main driver, and that no other system had been able to calibrate her mother (the ALS Patient), so we knew this wasn’t a “Typical” evaluation. I called and talked to Eyegaze’s tech support team, telling them the day and time and asked if they would be available, just in case.
Sure enough, when I started the evaluation the patient’s eyes were indeed difficult; one eye literally “rolling out” of the window, and tough to achieve a worthwhile calibration. After the initial adjustments I decided to get a 2nd opinion and called the office, getting Eyegaze staff on the line. Things then took a turn for the better, Eyegaze staff asked a few questions, took a video of the eye, and (remotely – right in front of us) started moving calibration points around on the screen. I tried to explain that we could eliminate problematic areas, and still achieve a solid calibration, but you could see the 2 SLPs were doubting this, but “highly focused” on what was happening on the screen. We also changed the patents angle to the screen, minimizing some glare we were getting from the window.
The speech pathologists may have had their doubts, and said so to me, but when Eyegaze staff were done, we went into the calibration screen and got her calibrated immediately. You could see a visible change come over both SLPs, who looked at each other, then at me and started asking questions. The patient and daughter; having failed on the other systems she tried were also relieved and immediately began pressing as to how soon she could get this, as they were about to put her on Hospice. The SLP stepped right in at that point, assuring them her write-up would be completed in the next several days. Knowing this was their 1st time with the Eyegaze Edge, I mentioned that Eyegaze had an in-house speech pathologist to provide any guidance on completing a detailed and thorough report. They did have 1-2 conversations with him.
I then called Eyegaze’s Funding Department, and they did an immediate scan of their insurance and (Fortunately) assured us it was a “slam dunk” as to coverage. By the time the write-up was complete we had the other pieces already in line, and shipped the Eyegaze Edge, knowing that if the mounts didn’t get there in time I could loan them that piece. In the end, the family had the system in their living room just 9 days after our evaluation–quite amazing!
I kept the 2 SLPs posted on our progress and training, and they followed up with me, asking for further information and if I thought I’d be back in their area regularly. Unfortunately, the patient passed shortly after training, but in that short time the daughter was impressed with what she’d seen AND the change she witnessed in the SLPs toward the Eyegaze Edge. She actually called me, asking if I thought it was a good idea to donate the device to their facility! That was done the next day, and I’ve since followed up with some training for our new clients. Much to my surprise, when I showed up they had brought in EIGHT additional OTs and SLPs from 3 hospitals and we had quite the session! Everyone had come to see this system they’d all by now heard about; the one that did what the others couldn’t!
They’ve now referred two other clients in the area, and a 3rd called me a few weeks after, setting up an evaluation for another “difficult” patient, as she too had heard about us. I now have some new clients in a lovely city, with a crew of people who are now believers in Eyegaze, our customer service and ability to help where others couldn’t. My thanks to Preethi in the Tech Support Department, for saving the day, and re-educating me as well on just how deep our technical bag of tricks is in solving these difficult situations. Thanks to Funding as well, for such a short turnaround, and James for helping with the process!
I think there is a lesson I learned (or confirmed) here. We already know we sometimes get sales by helping the patients the other systems can’t help, but it’s what we DO with those opportunities, that will promote us from that (nothing else works, call Eyegaze) status, to being a regular system for EVERY evaluation. As our industry becomes more Virtual in nature, I’ve found if I go that extra mile, and provide excellent IN-PERSON customer service, it can make a long-term impact on how we’re thought of, as it did here.