By Rebecca Soto, ABOC/NCLEC

We’ve all been there: trying to make a reservation or a purchase and encountering a less than enthused associate. Whether it is at your local big box store or over the phone with a sales representative, it can be frustrating. What if I told you I see this frequently in the field of opticianry? Would you be surprised?

As an instructor of opticianry, and because of my own interest in the field, I often visit optical shops throughout the state. On one visit, I was accompanied by a colleague and we stood in front of a young lady for upwards of 2 minutes before she peeled her eyes away from her phone to acknowledge our presence –head resting on one hand and a high-end coffee in the other. It was not the warmest welcome we had received, but not a surprising one.

While I have experienced impeccable service at other shops, I have wondered why so many locations seem to have unenthused staff. I love my job and I want to see that same passion in my students and the opticians I encounter during my visits.

What can we do? What can I do to make sure those in our field are providing quality customer service?

Eye care professionals must remember we are not only under the umbrella of the healthcare industry but we are also part of a business. In any business, first impressions are vital to acquiring clients. More important is retaining them. We do this through quality customer service.

If you read any book, partake in any training or workshops, or just patronize any store, you know customer service is layered. It is in our voice, tone, body language, interest, and in our attention. It is in active listening and the willingness to go above and beyond for our customers.

I have no doubt, that when I send my students out into the field, they will receive training in how to treat customers. But while I may be teaching them the math and science behind the field, I also make sure to teach the business – and our business is optical customer service!