By Rebecca Soto, ABOC/NCLEC

How many times have you dispensed a pair of glasses and the patient said, “This isn’t what I wanted”?

Uncovering a patient’s needs is an important part of what we do. As opticians, we are responsible for analyzing and interpreting a patient’s prescription. Opticians must also develop a good rapport with patients by interviewing them to discover their needs. In addition, we must explain and demonstrate the features and benefits of frames and lens designs and materials. How many times have you dispensed a Transitions lens to a patient who actually wanted a progressive? Don’t assume the patient knows the correct term for what they need. Haven’t we all heard, “Can you fix my arms?” Um…, you mean temples. Sure!

When an optician explains the benefits and features of a product, it allows the patient to make an educated decision about what is available to fit their needs. It is important to have good communication skills and properly interpret the patient’s new prescription. Each patient has a unique set of needs and expectations, and they are increasingly knowledgeable. We can ask Siri just about anything and get the answer in 10 seconds. Opticians need to create a climate that assures the consumer we are well educated and knowledgeable in our field. This is vital to sales and overall patient satisfaction.

Remind staff they must determine a patient’s visual demands in detail before selecting eyewear. Consider having a short patient questionnaire or script. It should include profession, hobbies and likes and dislikes regarding current eyewear. This allows the optician to evaluate the needs of the patient and make appropriate recommendations. Discovering and filling a patient’s needs ensure they will be satisfied with the purchase and will eliminate any confusion. When completing the sale, restate to the patient exactly what they purchased and again explain the benefits and features. This gives reassurance that you have met their needs and expectations.

Knowledge and the ability to communicate that knowledge is key to having patients who are confident in their eyewear purchases. We have a great CE, “Scripts for Selling,” that incorporates uncovering patient needs and wants, recommending the appropriate product options, explaining product advantages and limitations, overcoming objections and closing the sale. Check it out at