When a consumer has taken the time to walk in to a practice, there is a good probability she is looking for something specific. But, if the only thing the consumer can hope for from the visit is a certain product, then the O.D. is going to find himself in direct competition with every other retailer, whether online or down the street. This is why optometrists need to find tools that work for their businesses to make the actual product secondary to the overall shopping experience. Here are a few ways to do so.
INVITE COMPANY OVER
For many of us who are independent operators, our physical locations are very much an extension of who we are as individuals. As such, O.D.s should consider treating their consumers as if they are visiting the O.D.’s home.
To do this, optometrists should ensure that their optical spaces and practices are welcoming. A few reflective questions to ask:
- Am I making our guests feel at home?
- Are they being greeted immediately?
- Are we offering refreshments?
- How comfortable is my waiting area?
No matter the personal style — cleanliness, lighting and ambiance are all contributing factors to a consumer’s overall experience.
Second, O.D.s should extend the invitation. We frequently host events in our practice. Whether it is a trunk show, showcasing a new collection, meet and greets with an up-and-coming designer or a private shopping session for VIP customers, we create ways for consumers to interact and engage with our products in a unique and enjoyable way.
FACILITATE AN ENGAGED STAFF
As the practice owner/manager, optometrists should make sure the individual welcoming consumers and representing the dispensary is emotionally engaged with the job. Employees who are informed, educated and well-trained have greater confidence and job satisfaction: They know they’re good at their jobs because they’ve been given the tools, such as training on practice systems, and knowledge, such as education on products sold, needed to succeed.
In addition, O.D.s should create a corporate culture that fosters this engagement. At Edward Beiner, we accomplish this by creating experiential events for our staff with our vendors. For example, we try to have our corporate meetings in non-traditional venues in keeping with our culture.
CREATE A PLEASANT ENVIRONMENT
Optometrists should ensure staff members acknowledge consumers the minute they walk in to the dispensary — even if it is only to smile and say, “I will be right with you.” Also, any paperwork should be handed over with a smile.
O.D.s should welcome consumers with a pleasant handshake. Once the exam is complete, the optometrist should walk the consumer to the optician or eyewear specialist and introduce him. A seamless “pass off” is crucial to increase the likelihood of a post-eye exam sale.
The optician should introduce herself, offer the patient a seat and, perhaps, a coffee or bottle of water. Then, she should repeat the prescription and why the consumer needs it. From there, she should continue to engage in conversation. For example, the optician should ask questions, such as, “Is it your first pair of glasses?” and choose some glasses for the consumer, explaining the reason for choosing the frames, such as the style and color, to provide consumer education throughout the process.
Once the optician has closed the sale, she should explain, again, what the consumer bought and its benefits: think “one-minute elevator pitch.” Then, she should give the consumer a date to come back and pick up the finished glasses. (For this, I recommend going by the rule “Under promise, over deliver.”) Next, the optician should text, call or email the consumer when the glasses are ready and remember to keep an open line of dialogue if any delays occur.
On the day of pick up, the optician should make sure the glasses are clean and inside a case with a cleaning cloth — hopefully one that promotes the practice’s brand. The optician should then take this opportunity to add value to the consumer’s experience, once again, by summarizing what he purchased. The optician may also want to include a handwritten thank you.
After the appointment, the practice should stay in touch by letting the consumer know about events or new products in his preferred method of communication. For a great number of people, this will be social media.
Whether it is promoting an event (http://bit.ly/30LmWqS ) or connecting with new guests for feedback on their recent purchases (http://bit.ly/30Hp56Y ), social media has provided support and reach for businesses to reinforce and enhance the fundamental tools — customer service and connection — we utilize every day within our physical spaces.
Practices should use their social media platforms to respond to customers in real time. Many consumers take to their retailers’ Facebook or Twitter pages to ask questions, comment about a new product or post concerns instead of the calling or emailing the practice. Through social media, the practice has the opportunity to stay engaged with those consumers and maintain a relationship that truly connects and communicates.
DON’T BECOME A ROBOT
I recently walked in to a high-end boutique in the Meatpacking District of New York where the employee stayed on her iPad the whole time she followed me around. Why, I wondered, should I walk in to a store to be attended to by a robot?
Technology can be used in various ways — experiential purposes, to appeal to mobile users, increase convenience for shoppers or to promote a retailer’s online presence — but O.D.s shouldn’t forget human contact: The building of an authentic relationship between two people and their journey from the moment the consumer walks in to the practice, to the moment his eyewear is being dispensed. All that matters is making that person feel welcome, validated and special by using, for example, the personalized steps described above.
CREATE A SEAMLESS GUEST EXPERIENCE
At the Edward Beiner Group, we take a wholistic 360° approach to creating a seamless guest experience. Rooted in the fundamentals of exceptional customer service and utilizing traditional sales methods, advancements in communication tools allow us to thrive in today’s marketplace. A clear and unified narrative across our online channels helps us attract new guests and inform current ones. We always bring the conversation to the greater community, which, in turn, continuously builds value for who we are as eyewear professionals, the products we sell and the services we offer. OM