from the Optical & Beyond
a world of customer service lessons available for the taking.
THE EDITORIAL DIRECTOR, Jim Thomas
shopping has become a hot topic. The information reported by people who pose as
customers (or patients) and visit businesses often proves invaluable, most notably
for marketing and staff training. Yet personal observation is a powerful tool even
if you don't mystery shop. You can mine a wealth of information by observing a variety
of service-oriented establishments (retailers, restaurants, service centers, doctors
The office visit
Here's an example: On a recent visit to an
optometrist's office, I witnessed the following discussion between an optician and
an aggressive patient. After the greeting and a handshake, the patient started:
"How much are you going to take me
for this time?" he asked.
"I'm sorry?" she answered.
"Oh you know. How much is this going
to cost me?" he replied.
"Well, let me look," she said. After
taking a few moments to look over her paperwork, she looked directly at the patient
and calmly said, "Based on the prescription and the doctor's recommendations that
you agreed to, your glasses will cost about $300."
The optician broke a "rule" by discussing
costs before explaining benefits, but her approach worked. The patient interrupted
the optician five other times to ask about price. Each time, she answered. He ultimately
agreed to a pair of glasses with high-index lenses and AR coating.
Before he left, the patient told the
optician, "Sometimes I feel like I'm buying a car folks try to change the
subject or won't answer my questions about price. But you listened and answered
Beyond the office
Lessons can be gleaned from leaders in any
industry. In the highly competitive automotive repair industry, top shops sell
products and services to customers who would rather spend their money elsewhere.
Some use the Internet for education as well as marketing and promotions.
The best-of-the-best rely on personal
care. After receiving a call from a customer who burned up a rear differential (translation:
"a serious problem"), a car shop in California arranged for customer pick-up some
30 miles away. Not only was transportation arranged to a car rental facility, but
when the motorist discovered that she left her license at home, the shop provided
transportation home and then back to the rental center. The shop manager later commented
that he learned some of his earliest service lessons by observing the service at
Optometric Management, Issue: September 2005