When I hear/read complaints about frustrated opticians perturbed at spending too much time with a customer during the frame/lens choice process, I feel dismayed. When I hear opticians’ complaints because they concluded a mother or a father is too cheap about their own or their child’s eyewear/lenses, I want to remind them not to judge because they don’t know the financial circumstances. What’s worrisome is that feelings often aren’t as well hidden as one might think; the patient will feel the tension and have a bad experience. Having owned optical boutiques, I cringe knowing that business owners, whether optician owned, an OD practice or an ophthalmology practice, pay the price for dissatisfied customers.
We provide services and goods, both directly linked to the level of customer satisfaction. The optician’s contribution to the customer’s satisfaction levels relate to their optical knowledge and skills but equally important is their customer relations acumen. In our profession, we train on optical theory and practical skills to make, measure or adjust eyewear. We learn to use instruments to align, neutralize and finish eyewear. We love this aspect of our job. However, more time and training needs to be given to learning and practicing good customer relations. The vital interpersonal skills that opticians need to hone are flexibility, friendliness and positivity.
High satisfaction levels lead to enthusiastic patrons who repeatedly spend on goods or services from particular companies or brands. Satisfied customers buy more products and persuade others to buy from the same store or the same brands, while dissatisfied customers switch stores/brands and tell others about their bad experience.
If customer retention is low, then the money spent on marketing efforts to attract new customers is wasted. A lost customer is typically a displeased customer who can spread the damage to the practice reputation through online reviews and by telling family and friends to stay away. If a customer spends an average of $1,500 every two years, an average of $750 per year, that’s $7,500 in lost sales over 10 years. Now multiply this by the number of people who will stop doing business or never start because of the bad experience of one customer. According to the Harvard Business Review, 48 percent of people who had a negative purchasing experience told 10 or more people. We are much quicker to share our ire than our positive feelings.
If you think that customers are a pain, then that is what you are projecting. Stop for a moment and realize that you can change how you treat customers by changing how you see customers. A staggering 89 percent of consumers switched to a competitor after a bad experience; according to RightNow Technologies—this is the high cost of a lost customer.
• Deborah Kotob
Pro to Pro Director