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Lana Greene | 2/7/2022

I often hear from ODs and opticians that their patients are taking their prescriptions and purchasing eyewear at Costco, Warby Parker, or other online retailers. Rarely do I hear the reason why. Finally, the opportunity was in front of me so I could ask questions to a consumer regarding the purchase of their eyewear.

Read The "Optical" Room

My consumer, Shariele (fictitious name), stated that she purchased a year supply of contact lenses from her optometrist at her annual eye exam. With much delight I immediately asked if she also purchased eyewear from him. She said, “No, I did not. I purchased my glasses online at Zenni Optical.”

My facial expression immediately dropped with disappointment. This innocent woman had no idea what she just got herself into. My interrogation began:

What was your experience like at the office?

What was the process from the moment you walked in the door?

What was the process when the doctor was finished with your exam?

Did he take you to an optician and prescribe glasses and contact lenses?

Her experience was positive with every question I presented, until it came to the hand off to the optician. The optician immediately started handing her frames, and after the third frame, Shariele politely asked for a copy of her prescription. She paid for her contacts, was given a copy of her prescription, and was out the door.

Questions for Opticians to Ask Patients That Were Missed

Unfortunately for many independent opticians, this is a familiar story, but I wanted to know more about why.

The interrogation continued:

Did the optician give you the opportunity to choose your own frames?

After you handed back the third pair, did the optician ask you questions about what styles you may like?

What did you not like about the styles you tried on?

Did the optician ask you questions about how much you wear your glasses since you are a contact lens wearer? (50%, 25%, 5% of the time?)

Did you ask the optician any questions?

Did you communicate what you were looking for in your eyewear?

Did the optician ask you why you wanted a copy of your prescription?

The answer to each of the questions was no. She was not asked ANY optical questions and she gave no information of what she was looking for either.

Why Asking Your Patients Common Optical Questions Matter

After asking Shariele each of the questions and listening to her answers, it was obvious why she purchased her eyewear online. She wanted an inexpensive pair of glasses to wear for about an hour a day and as a backup for emergencies if she couldn’t wear her contact lenses.

I was able to explain why she should purchase glasses from her optometrist:

Budget-friendly eyewear does exist, and the quality is better then what she purchased online.

Opticians are the experts for styling, product needs and taking accurate measurements.

Each of your eyewear purchases are housed in one place along with your contact lens orders.

Maintenance/adjustments can be done on your eyewear if purchased from your optometrist.

This was a simple exercise of communication and relationship-building, but for Shariele, it was a missing component of her experience with her eye doctor and may have kept her from purchasing glasses there.

In order to be successful, you need to offer great customer service for eyewear sales, including making sure your staff is asking the right optical questions to your patients. Even a few of the more common optical questions can help you discover your patients’ unique needs and allow you to offer a better overall experience as well as potentially entice them to buy from you, instead of online.

At the time I spoke with her, Shariele just needed a simple, inexpensive, backup pair of glasses. However, in a year she may want to wear her glasses more and be willing to pay more. We won’t know until we ask. Maybe, just maybe, she would have purchased a pair of non-prescription sunglasses if she had been asked the right questions by her opticians. But she wasn’t, so again, we don’t know.

There will always be patients that do take their prescriptions elsewhere. However, there will also always be patients that fill their prescriptions after a simple conversation and a few good questions from an optician.

Optimize Your Optical Potential

If you feel that your optical may need improvements to better serve your patients and increase revenue, contact IDOC to learn how we can help you. At IDOC, we offer optical management services as well as sales advice to help independent optometrists just like you optimize your retail performance.

Lana Greene
Optical Consultant
Lana Greene has over 25 years of experience in the independent optical channel. The first part of her career was spent as an ABO-Certified Optician and Sales Consultant for Viva International. She then transitioned her years of field experience into a Training Manager with Marcolin, serving the entire East coast. Lana then joined Silhouette and was instrumental in launching a new brand for them, coaching the team in effective merchandising and product placement best practices to drive sell-through. Lana joined IDOC in 2019 as a Practice Development Manager in the Great Lakes region, applying her expertise to grow more than 300 independent practices through reducing their cost of goods, and maximizing their operational efficiency through educational opportunities and training. Lana joins the Optical Services team as an Optical Consultant, with a passion for data and its value in the independent Optical.
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