I must admit that it has been a long time since I dispensed a pair of eyeglasses, but I was thinking about how my staff does it and if we are really using the best technique. I decided to hang out in the optical area more than usual and observe and listen. As usual with procedures that are not paid attention to, some of my opticians were not doing it the way I wanted. I thought I had trained them on what to say at dispensing, but truth be told, I couldn't remember the last time I spoke to them on the subject and we have some newer employees that may not have heard my spiel. New employees are generally trained by our senior staff members, but some things can be overlooked.
I'm generally more involved in contact lens dispensing because I check the fit, but it occurred to me that I have three associate doctors and I'm not quite sure what they say at the contact lens dispensing visit.
What to say
I opened my practice cold, so there was a time when I did all eyeglass deliveries and adjustments myself. I learned early on that the dispensing of glasses or contact lenses is a great opportunity to build patient loyalty. Loyalty is the highest level of patient satisfaction and it results in repeat business and word of mouth referrals; two things I'm passionate about. Here are some tips on what the dispensers in your practice should say to the patient.
Review what's great about the product. This one is very important. Before showing the finished eyeglasses to the patient for the first time, review the order and note the type of lens and frame, then tell the patient what she got. For example, if the lenses are a new progressive design in a high index plastic, tell the patient that her new glasses have very advanced multifocal lenses that allow her to see clearly at all distances and they are made in ultra-thin and light plastic. If the lenses are photochromic or anti-reflective, be sure to describe the benefits of those products.
The same rule applies to contact lenses. Tell the patient why the lenses are great, which could be the technology that keeps the lenses moist and comfortable, or the multifocal design for presbyopia or the new more stable design of a toric lens. Always keep the communication simple and brief, but telling patients what is so great about the product increases the perceived value of your services. This should be repeated at progress exams.
It is important to review the product because when you release the patient she immediately enters into a period of several days where there is an extremely high probability that she will talk about you and your practice. We want to encourage that behavior and arm the patient with knowledge. We certainly can't assume the patient remembers the lens options and features from the time the order was placed. They forget what they ordered and they forget the names of the lens features. Remind them as you send them off and when the first person notices the new glasses, the patient will say “Yeah, aren't they cool? They have the most advanced multifocal lenses for clearer vision and they are made from ultra-thin plastic. And they darken when I go outdoors and turn into sunglasses, but inside they are perfectly clear!” The next question is usually... “Where did you get them?”
Show some enthusiasm. This is an exciting experience for the patient; help them enjoy it. Don't make it so obvious that you have dispensed thousands of glasses and contacts and this is just routine.
Check vision. To the extent the case calls for; check vision in general terms or by acuity measurement.
Advise on what to expect and how to use the glasses or contacts.
Give care and handling instructions, but keep it simple and try to minimize the things you can't do. Try to let the products be easy to care for in real life. What should a patient do if the glasses are smudged and he does not have his microfiber cloth? Can he run them under a drinking fountain and dry with his T-shirt?
Compliment the patient. Find something genuine that you can say to let the patient leave with a smile, such as “Those glasses look great on you! I'll bet you will receive compliments.” Or, “Contact lenses really make you look younger!”
Give some thought to what the product looks like when it is delivered to the patient.
Many offices use attractive trays to carry the eyeglasses to the dispensing table. Never use plastic lab trays.
The glasses are open and clean of any lab markings. Don't have the glasses wrapped in a lab ticket with a rubber band.
The glasses are already in standard adjustment. Handle them like fine jewelry.
Many offices present glasses and contacts along with a small gift or a piece of fine chocolate, a nice case, a microfiber cloth and lens cleaner or a contact lens care kit. Give a nice bag to carry all the materials.
Place printed materials in a folder, including an office brochure, two business cards, and product information.
Best wishes for continued success,
Neil B. Gailmard, OD, MBA, FAAO
Editor, Optometric Management Tip of the Week
Dr. Gailmard's new book, Practice Management in Optometry: A Blueprint for Success Based on the Optometric Management Tip of the Week, is now available on Amazon.