by Johnna Dukes, ABOC

To make great eyewear, we need to identify the patients’ expectations. What do they need to see well, and what do they want to be able to do? If you don’t discuss wants and needs with them and you don’t tell them why you chose the products you did, and one of their friends tells them about a new product that they might have had interest in, the patient then assumes that either you didn’t know about it and you’re out of touch, or possibly that you didn’t care enough to discuss it with them. Then what happens? It prompts them to search for information on the internet and find volumes of half-truths online, which of course, they believe because you’ve lost credibility. None of these situations paints a very good picture of you as a professional who is on top of your game, does it?

What can you do to prevent these situations? Get comfortable, and start right now. By getting comfortable, I really mean that you need to change the way you look at the service you provide, and remember that you are the Optical professional. You should be the driver of conversation, asking the questions you need the answers to in order to provide eyewear products that are truly made with their needs in mind. (You know, personalized service.) Making people feel like they have been seen and heard, and that you know exactly what they need, establishing YOU as the trusted professional. Not their friends, and certainly not whatever sketchy blog they found online that tells them half-truths about vision.

Conversation is Key

I’ve seen information gathering done a couple of ways that can be effective. Some offices use surveys asking about people’s hobbies, levels of computer, tablet, and cell phone use, etc. And I’m a fan of gathering information however you can, but I truly believe that conversation is key in these situations. Asking a patient face to face about their lives is a very powerful thing. It shows that you care about their individual situation enough to ask about it, and better, it shows that you acknowledge that not everyone uses their eyes the in same way, showing that this is not a one-size-fits-all dispensary, and you are not a one-size-fits-all dispenser.

In Part 3, you’ll find out what information from the patient is helpful in the eyewear design process (Isn’t eyewear design what we really do based on patients’ vision needs?) and how to use that information to result in happy, comfortable patients who trust and rely on you for the best in vision care.

Johnna Dukes, ABOC is currently the owner and operator of an optical boutique, with experience in both the private practice sector as well as the retail chain setting. She has a wide range of experience varying from optical support staff to dispensary management to practice ownership. She lives in Okoboji, Iowa.