By Johnna Dukes, ABOC

Opticians are by nature a compilation of many parts, we are a little bit physics, a little bit fashion, a little bit psychologist, and a little bit tactile genius. We listen, analyze, find solutions, order, fabricate, verify, and adjust eyewear and so many, many more things on a daily basis. And as if we didn’t already have enough on our plates, I’m going to add one more task; storyteller. Why, you might ask? Because this single task might just be the thing that makes what we do so much more valuable to our patients.

Why Storytelling?
Our patients are constantly bombarded with messages. TV and magazines are obvious, but take a look at your Facebook or Instagram feeds; advertisements are ever present. Sometimes subtle, but ever present. And theses advertisements are subliminally telling your patients things, creating value for certain brands, detracting value from others. In fact, look at the messaging about our industry that is being distributed, as patients are constantly being told that “Smart Consumers” are spending less elsewhere. Who is there to tell your message of value to your customer? Enter, YOU. Why? Because if you don’t, someone else will.

What’s the Story?
So, what’s an optician to do? You’ve got to take the time to tell the story of the frames you’re presenting, the lenses you use, and even your expertise within your profession. Why? Because people don’t buy products, they buy stories. They buy what has value to them, and if you’re not telling them why to choose one over another, or telling them the story of their products, then you’re subliminally telling them that all products (frames, lenses, or even opticians) are alike and there is no difference in quality. This is a slippery slope, because if you’re not telling them the story and your patient thinks there’s no difference in products, then the only common denominator is price, and this is a race to the bottom.

So, I’d encourage you to re-think how you present products to your patients. Are you sitting down with your patients to help in the frame selection process? Are you telling them that this frame line happens to be your favorite because they use only Beta Titanium in their frames, they are incredibly light in weight, this frame line has built its reputation on extreme comfort, and that you have recommended this line to the patient because your consultation revealed that they felt their previous pair was heavy and uncomfortable? Get to know the stories of your frame vendors, tell the patient how they’re made and what they’re made of, tell the truth, but let them know they are not all the same.

Then you move on to lens options. I often tell patients that there are thousands of lens options on the market and not all lens designs are the same, and that is why I’m so glad they came in to let us help navigate their lens needs. After all, if we don’t recognize that our patient likely believes there is one progressive lens design (and don’t even get me started on how undereducated they are about lens materials) they certainly don’t understand why you would choose one over another or why you would pay more for one than another.

The key here is that we must also create value around our expertise. I often say, “I’m so glad you gave me the opportunity to help you navigate your lens needs. I know you’re a busy person and you don’t have time to worry about knowing all of the lens options and their functional applications. Fortunately, that’s what you have me for!” At this time, you will want to ask them about how they use their eyes, what are they currently struggling with, and suggest products that will solve their issues, all the while reassuring them that they are a “Smart Consumer” for choosing to work with a trained professional. Creating value can be a tricky endeavor, but it is one that we must take the time to present properly. Make sure to hone your storytelling skills, the perception of value of our entire industry hangs in the balance.

Begin your story by learning how to communicate the value, advantages and benefits of each kind of frame with our CE, Why You Should Know How Frames are Made at