Article Date: 4/1/2013

Communication Breakdown
optical

Communication Breakdown

Eliminate disconnects among you and your staff when selling lenses.

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DAVE ZIEGLER, O.D.

Doctors and their staff may not like to think of themselves as salespeople, but we’re all selling something. When you, the doctor, make a recommendation to a patient on the ophthalmic lenses that will best solve their vision problems, you are selling the features of a product that provides certain benefits.

However, disconnects between what is said by the doctor and what is said by the staff can negatively impact that sale.

Here are some ways to get everyone saying the same thing.

1. Conduct office meetings.

Meet with your staff at least monthly to educate them on the products that you recommend. Be sure that everyone realizes that, while the features of a product are easy to discuss, it’s the benefits that really matter.

For example, AR coatings are a feature of a lens but a benefit to the patient is improved night vision without glare. Be sure you and your staff do not talk about features without following up with the benefits.

2. Demonstrate recommendations.

At the conclusion of your exam, discuss your recommendations with patients in a way that addresses their chief complaint. When possible, demonstrate how the lenses work so that the patient sees the benefit. An example: If you are discussing computer lenses to a presbyope, hold +1.75 lens flippers over the distance portion of their glasses while they hold a reading card where their computer would be. This demonstration says more than words can.

3. Write your recommendations.

We use a brochure in the exam room to write the products that we want patients to wear. We use it to draw pictures of how aspheric lenses differ from standard single vision lenses or how computer progressives are made compared with all-purpose progressives. Patients need this written reminder because it’s easy for them to forget this information with all that has occurred during the exam.

When you make these recommendations, it is much easier for the optical staff to finish the sale. After all, the patient is hearing the same thing from both the doctor and the staff.

4. Do the “hand off.”

Take a few minutes to escort your patients to the optical area and introduce them to your staff. Review your recommendations with the patient so the opticians are clear with what you have prescribed.

5. Use the right words.

Avoid technical terminology when talking to patients. Words like high index, polycarbonate and progressive are okay when the patient has been educated about those things. But terminology, such as seg heights, base curves and panto, doesn’t need to be used with the patient and only increases confusion.

Making a connection

When communication is clear, concise and the same from all members of the staff, the patient experience is enhanced. They develop confidence and loyalty to the practice. OM

DR. ZIEGLER IS THE SENIOR PARTNER IN A GROUP PRIVATE PRACTICE IN MILWAUKEE, WISC., AND A FELLOW OF THE AMERICAN ACADEMY OF OPTOMETRY. E-MAIL HIM AT DZIEGLER@AMERITECH.NET, OR SEND COMMENTS TO OPTOMETRICMANAGEMENT@GMAIL.COM.



Optometric Management, Volume: 48 , Issue: April 2013, page(s): 54