Knowledge, humility, honesty and the ability to listen are the essential skills that will gain your patients’ trust.
Last month I briefly talked about the process of choosing the right frame for your clients and we found that it is generally a much more difficult and complex process than it would first seem. Achieving real client satisfaction and getting them coming back to you time and time again requires care, knowledge and discipline from which we can earn their trust. Really I guess it is all about trust because if the client is sure you have their best interests at heart, they will trust you. If they trust you they will buy more from you. It’s a very simple formula which is well proven but is often forgotten in a world full of expensive and glitzy marketing.
So how do we get the client’s trust on the floor of the dispensary? Well I’ll give my ideas on the subject. Although I don’t profess to be any great authority on this, I think there are some things I’ve learnt in an optical dispensing career which now spans over a 30 year period. I’m sure most dispensers of my vintage know this stuff so if you’re in that league feel free to turn to the next column, but if you’ve been in it for less than 10 or 15 years bear with me, you might learn something!
Don’t push the expensive alternative if there is no net or negative benefit to the client. It will come back to bite!
1. Knowledge. This is the most indispensable tool you have. Great optical dispensers know the product inside out. They know the technical stuff as well and they can put the two together with a touch of artistic flair. Never give up on learning. Ask questions all the time of senior staff, teachers, optometrists, ophthalmologists, sales reps, laboratory staff… Just learn and assume you still don’t know much.
2. Humility. You are on the whole dealing with older people in our industry, and if you are younger it can be a job to gain their trust. Older people have experience and know how hard and how long it can take to become really good at something. So if you are younger in this industry, you need to be humble; older folk will instinctively be suspicious.
3. Enjoy what you’re doing. If you are not enjoying it this will come across to the client and they won’t buy from you. If you can’t learn to enjoy what you are doing try something else.
4. Be honest. With every sale we must find the frame and lenses that suit the client the best. We must have their interest totally at heart, if we do so, they will feel it. They will sense your genuine concern. They will get the product they need and want and they will keep coming back! Don’t push the expensive alternative if there is no net or negative benefit to the client. It will come back to bite!
5. Listen… We have two ears and one mouth, perhaps there’s a hint there!
6. Get older… We’re all getting older but this job gets much easier as we grow into middle age, in particular as presbyopia sets in. Wear the products; try different lenses, frames, tints and coatings. Using your own experiences with eyewear and vision correction is invaluable in gaining client trust.
Murray O’Brien is the President of ADOA Victoria.
For many of our patients, fashion and the ‘look’ provided by their new frames is pretty high on the list of priorities. Certainly, the style of spectacles chosen can say a lot about a person’s personality. Helping patients with the right frame, fit and colour makes a big difference in patient satisfaction.
But just as important is the choice of lens – and this is where the patients are almost totally reliant on the expertise of a qualified, well-educated dispenser.
The large array of lens products available can often be quite bewildering and the effectiveness of a promotional campaign can muddy the waters of expectation.
Dispensers need to function as ‘guides’ for the patient in order to provide them with the best results. Ultimately, what we need to end up with is the right product for the right patient.
Before deciding on the correct lens, a good dispenser will ask questions about the patient’s lifestyle and activities. Are they playing lots of sport? Are they frequently driving? Reading? Using computers? Spending time on the water or in the snow?
For many patients, getting a new pair of glasses is a considerable investment, so we want to get it right – the wrong choice of lens can be costly. Don’t be afraid to offer patients the latest technology in lenses. Coatings –AR, UV, scratch resistant and the like – can all contribute to increased patient satisfaction with their new spectacles.
With technology advancing at the pace it is, it is important that all dispensers – indeed all practice staff – keep up with the latest offerings. Lens laboratories and suppliers always have plenty of education materials, and are happy to speak about the benefits of their particular products – please take advantage of this resource.
Finally, a word on measurements. There’s an old proverb “measure twice, cut once”. When choosing a lens, make sure that measurements are taken correctly and in the appropriate manner.
This is another area where you shouldn’t be afraid to make the most of your equipment – pupilmeters and the like – for taking measurements. It’s amazing how much patient confidence is improved when they see you using up-to-date equipment.
One thing I have noticed as I visit practices is that many people aren’t sitting in the appropriate position when they’re taking patient measurements. They’re either too low, too high, or sitting to the side of a patient.
The first rule of dispensing is that measurements should be taken when you are face on and at the same height as the patient. I’m concerned it is not happening as much as it should be, and it is something practice staff need to be aware of.
In May, I was delighted to represent ADOA at an industry ‘morning tea’ at the new Randwick TAFE campus, addressing the latest cohort of optical dispensing courses, about the importance of ADOA to the industry and the role it plays.
It was a great session, with many insightful presentations from a number of perspectives. Students heard about what employers are looking for in optical dispensers and about the different career paths open to optical dispensers. The presentations gave the students confidence about their upcoming course and their future in the industry.
Martin Kocbek is the President of ADOA NSW.