By Johnna Dukes, ABOC

You’d have to have been hiding under a rock somewhere if you haven’t yet discovered that there are some companies offering glasses for your patients to purchase online. (And at prices that are hard to compete with.) So, it’s here, people. The apocalypse that has long been predicted. But, I don’t think it is as scary as the nay-sayers think. I actually think the advent of online creates opportunities for human opticians to become great. So, while the internet is trying to pass itself off as an optician, what can actual opticians do to distinguish themselves?

Have a Discussion

Taking the time to get to know what your patients need is something that will separate the subpar from the great. Asking the questions that allow you to recommend products that will suit your patient’s needs is something the internet cannot provide. Furthermore, understanding the products available on the market and what distinguishes them will give you a leg up. I recommend sitting down, introducing yourself to the patient and asking them a simple question. “Tell me what you like and dislike about the pair you’re currently wearing.” You will be amazed by the breadth of information you can glean from this simple question. Then, act on that information and recommend products accordingly!

Be the Professional

Sometimes patients have trouble adapting to new glasses. This is not news to any of us. However, this does happen to be news to your patient as they’ve likely not experienced this before. How you handle this situation will define your value to your patient. Take the time to gather information from them as to what exactly the issue is, troubleshoot the eyewear, and of course, fix the problem. The value in the simple act of troubleshooting cannot be underestimated. Also, what an opportunity to shine! When a patient is struggling and you step in like the caped crusader and save the day, you have established yourself as a professional - nay, an optical expert! What could be better?

Something I happen to really rejoice in is the frame selection process. I love to look at a bridge and to know exactly which frame in my inventory is going to fit that bridge. Patients love it when they can just sit back and have an expert choose frames for them that will work with their prescription, as well as their facial features. Again, we have an opportunity to be great here!

I’d hope this goes without saying, but until the internet grows feelings, caring about people is still something in which we humans happen to have cornered the market. When your patient knows you care about how they are doing with their glasses, they, too, are invested in having a good outcome. Remember, they know they could pay less somewhere else, and they are choosing to do business with you. Don’t take that lightly; your patient doesn’t.