Converting WOW to Word of Mouth!

By Renato Cappuccitti

Release Date: April 1, 2018

Expiration Date: May 1, 2020

Learning Objectives:

Upon completion of this program, the participant should be able to:

  1. A good understanding of color enhancing sunglass lens technology and know how they improve on standard sunglass lens technology.
  2. An in-depth understanding of how specific ranges of the visible light spectrum can affect visual performance.
  3. An understanding of the potentially harmful effects of sunlight.
  4. Greater knowledge of the communication skills needed to effectively determine the lifestyle needs of the patient.
  5. Increased confidence to make appropriate sunglass product recommendations with regards to the patient's needs and lifestyle.

Faculty/Editorial Board:

Renato Cappuccitti is an ABO certified optician with over 30 years of optical experience which spans optical retail, technical marketing, strategic planning education and training management. He serves as the vice chair of the Sunglass and Readers Division for The Vision Council. He is dedicated to the advancement of optical education and has served as a board member of the National Association of Opticians, as well as the commissioner and treasurer for the Commission on Opticianry Accreditation.

Credit Statement:

This course is approved for one (1) hour of CE credit by the American Board of Opticianry (ABO). Technical Level 1 Course STWJHI685-1

Supported By:

This course is supported by an educational grant from COSTA

Converting WOW to Word of Mouth!

We've all heard the saying that word of mouth (WOM) sells… but how effective and important is word of mouth? Product and business ratings have become very important in today's environment due to how quickly we can get the information we need online. Think about how often the products you've purchased or the business you've decided to deal with have been influenced by user feedback and ratings. This applies to all consumer goods and services.

Let's look at the facts. According to Nielsen, 92 percent of consumers believe recommendations from friends and family over all forms of advertising. In a recent study, 64 percent of marketing executives indicated that they believe word of mouth is the most effective form of marketing ("Why Word of Mouth Marketing is the Most Important Social Media,"

"You cannot have word of mouth without words." This simple phrase is loaded with many years of wisdom and experience. The premise behind the statement is that if you do not give your customers accurate and descriptive words about the products and services you are offering during your interaction with them, then they cannot spread the word of excitement about what they purchased, the individuals they dealt with and recommend the place of business.


"If you build it, they will come," adapted from the 1989 "Field of Dreams" movie. Wouldn't it be great if it was that simple? Purchase items you think or know your customers want, showcase them or even place them in their own display, and the sales will happen. Most optical dispensaries have many brands in the hopes that something appeals to the demographics and needs of the customers they serve.

When it comes to eyeglasses, the main purpose of the visit is out of necessity—the need to get an updated prescription and the purchase of a new pair of everyday glasses without much consideration for additional products to suit their lifestyle. We would be very fortunate if all patients would come in and say, "I'm here today to get an eye exam, buy glasses with the most advanced lens technology and also get a prescription sunglass." However, according to data from The Vision Council (VisionWatch Q4-2017) only about 1 in 7 office visits results in a prescription sunglass purchase, and just under half of those are polarized.

In many cases, the second pair purchase is often the result of staff members who have taken the time to make recommendations based on customers' needs that were established during their interaction.

Those who are successful understand the needs of their customers and use effective communication to address those needs in a manner to motivate a purchase decision. For years this has been referred to as lifestyle dispensing in the optical business, and while everyone says they do this, not everyone does it well. Selling, or recommending based on needs, is truly an art… the art of selling. Numerous books and even movies have been made on the art of selling, and there is a common theme in mastering the art. Understand the needs of the customer and present your options by reviewing how the features of the options presented will benefit the customer to address their needs.

Sunglasses have always been referred to as the perfect second pair. Most ECPs own a personal sunglass so it would only be logical that most prescription eyeglass wearers own prescription sunglasses too. Because the need for prescription sunglasses is obvious, we often jump to the sale without addressing the need first. In doing so we may come across as being a pushy salesperson, and sticker shock can become a barrier to making a purchase.

People need to feel understood. Needing Rx sun is an obvious solution, but unless your customer has specifically come in for the sole purpose of buying Rx sunglasses, then you must work backward by asking appropriate questions that bring out the reason for the need. Once they've provided you with the answers that address their need, then you are ready to make your recommendation based on what you've learned. Doing this reverses the decision-making process. The decision for agreeing with your recommendation is now theirs, rather than yours, and they are more willing to take your recommendation.


Effective communication consists of asking questions, while actively listening to the answers. It is the cornerstone of selling. It's the primary skill needed to gather information about your customer's needs. Once you've gathered the information by asking questions you are now ready to make your recommendation.

Having a comprehensive approach to sales can be broken into the following stages:

To Know: What your customer wants before they do. Plan in advance, it's important to know your purpose and what you will want to discuss.

To Gather: Information by asking specific questions to allow you to identify and gain agreement on the customer's needs.

To Inform: This can be one of the most important stages of the process as your expertise and knowledge is required to moving on. The use of benefit statements is extremely effective as this makes the solution relative to their needs. A benefit statement translates features into benefits and makes the customer understand the need for your recommendation. Those who use three to five benefit statements are more successful and demonstrate in-depth knowledge of the products being recommended. Example of a benefit statement: "The polarized lenses I am recommending will virtually eliminate the blinding glare you mentioned you've experienced on your drive home from work. Elimination of this glare will provide clearer vision and make your eyes feel significantly more comfortable. Let me demonstrate the difference between a polarized sunglass versus non-polarized."

To Help: Help the customer become aware of problems they may have overlooked or have not been aware would affect their vision. You will likely encounter objections to some recommendations, so be prepared to address objections and reaffirm the reason for your recommendation. The following steps are an effective way to handle a customer's objections:

To Close: Close the sale by asking for it. Once you have informed the customer and address any objections, you are ready to complete the transaction. Do not feel pushy or uncomfortable. Remember that they came to you with the intent to have you make recommendations based on their needs, and they expect you to ask for their business. Think of the close as a WIN/WIN by helping customers make good purchase decisions and moving from having interest in products to taking action in purchasing them. The customer wins, and the business wins.

Perfecting these skills takes practice. All staff members must work as a team, and just as with every winning team, practice makes perfect. Anyone who has done this and had success knows the rewarding feeling the entire team has when customers take your recommendation and thank you for it. I have personally had the pleasure of witnessing the success of a large retailer that set a goal to increase prescription sunglass sales by implementing product and sales training to ensure everyone was prepared to effectively communicate sunwear options with the customer. The result was a 50 percent increase in prescription sunglass sales in less than eight weeks.


Plan Ahead. Know the features and benefits of all the sunglass brands you sell and understand the differences between them. Engage with the customer at every level and ask questions to uncover the customer's needs. Everyone must be open and willing to do this in order to achieve success. Work together as a team and come up with a list of questions to uncover the needs. Open-ended questions can be very effective because they do not have a Yes or No answer and allow you to get the information needed to proceed. As the customer answers your questions, they are providing you with the reasons for making your recommendation. Patience is important, and the recommendation must wait until all the questions have been answered.

Everyone needs to be involved! Reception, optometric tech, doctor, optician and sales associates. As the customer's eyecare team, each touch affirms the next. To get you started, below are some suggested phrases/questions for the team to help plant seeds and gather the information needed.


"When was the last time your prescription sunglasses were updated?"

"Please make sure to bring your sunglasses with you. We can make any adjustments to ensure they are fitting properly and provide you with a complimentary ultrasonic cleaning."

If they say they do not have sunglasses, the receptionist notes this in their file. Having a note is helpful for contact lens patients as it provides the doctor and the contact lens fitter with the opportunity to recommend and show ready-made sunglasses. Think about incentivizing the patient by having a bundle offer with the purchase of an annual contact lens supply and sunglass.


"Do you have a prescription sunglass that I can verify prior to the exam?"

"Are you aware that wearing prescription sunglasses when you are outside will improve your vision and protect your eyes? The doctor can explain the benefits in greater detail."


"Are you aware that UV rays from the sun can lead to irreversible damage to your eye?"

"How do you protect your eyes from the sun's harmful UV rays?"

"We always want to keep our patients informed about the latest technology regarding the health of your eyes. What questions do you have for me regarding prescription sunglasses?"

"Since your prescription hasn't changed from your last exam, your eyeglasses won't need to be updated but you should consider a pair of prescription sunglasses, they are so important to protect your eyes from the sun but they have the added benefits of helping you see better by filtering glare."


"Did you know that your vision care and FSA benefits can also be used for prescription sunglasses? Let me take a look at your benefit plan and see how much you can save."

"Were you aware that many of the branded sunglasses we carry are also available with the same lens technology in prescription?"

When asking lifestyle questions about hobbies and activities: "When you are in the bright sun, what type of sunglass do you use for _______ (boating, hiking, riding a motorcycle, etc.)?"

"What is your biggest complaint about driving in the bright sun?"

Use this opportunity to ask if they are familiar with polarized lenses, and when possible take them outside for a real-world demonstration of the glare reduction and color-enhancement features of the lens, otherwise use a manufacturer provided demonstrator.

Reinforce the product features and benefits when dispensing eyewear. Do not be in a rush to simply adjust the glasses and send them on their way. Taking a few extra minutes when you dispense the product will pay dividends and make the reasons for the purchase fresh before the customer starts wearing the product. It will also reinforce their purchase decision and make them excited to experience the benefits you've described. The reasons for their purchase and benefits of the product will eventually become the word of mouth advertising that you work so hard to earn.

"Before you leave I want you to experience the visual sharpness and comfort these new sunglasses provide. Put them on and look at how the glare off the windshields of the cars in the parking lot just disappears."

"Shake your head to see how the silicone injected temples and nosepads provide the extra grip you'll need when you're out on your next outdoor adventure."

All of the above are merely a few suggestions of things you can say, but regardless of what words you choose it's important to:

  • Set time aside to work together as a team and agree to implement process.
  • Review what everyone will say. Each person has their own style, so it's OK to modify what you say to make it your own.
  • Write down what everyone has agreed to and use it as a reference and for refreshers.
  • Practice using the phrases and questions, so they flow naturally.
  • Commit to doing this with EVERYONE.
  • Listen to team members and give a friendly reminder if anyone forgets to ask questions or use the words that you all agreed on.
  • Set sales targets and goals so you can track your progress.
  • Celebrate Success.
  • Make it FUN! Remember you are improving their vision and comfort outdoors, and when driving, they will appreciate this.

Use the latest in color-enhancing polarized sun lens technology to provide your customer with the best ever visual experience in sunny, bright and high glare conditions.

The Most Exciting Sunglass Advancement Since Polarized Lenses!

"Be the Expert!" You are your customer's eyewear needs advocate, helping them identify their needs and to understand their best options. Optical practices make a significant investment in the products carried and look for a return on this investment. Using your product knowledge to educate your customers about the brands you carry is necessary to help the customer make informed decisions. There are times you get lucky because a customer is already familiar with a certain brand and has done the research to familiarize themselves with the brand's technology. Too often they know more about the brand than us. The more you know about the products you've invested in, the more credibility you will have presenting and selling them. The less you know, the greater the risk of losing the customer's trust and potentially losing the sale.

When it comes sunglass technology, let's agree that polarized lenses are considered the gold standard for their ability to provide full UV protection, eliminate blinding glare and offer better visual clarity over tinted lenses. While polarized lenses have been available for decades, it wasn't until just a few years ago that a new category of lenses have emerged as the most advanced sunglass technology… color enhancing sunglass lenses. This new class of lenses is best categorized for their ability to improve vision and color contrast.

Color-enhancing lenses are loaded with technology and were initially developed by plano sunglass companies. The process for creating these lenses requires a complex mix of organic dyes or rare earth elements, and as manufacturing technologies have evolved over the last few years, we've seen an increase in the number of companies offering color-enhancing lenses. Prescription versions of these lenses are only available direct from the sunglass companies and not readily available through lens manufacturers themselves.

In order to understand the science behind how color-enhancing lenses work, let's take a close look at how the human eye receives light and interprets it. As light enters the eye it can either be absorbed or transmitted. UV-B (280 to 315 nm) is absorbed by the cornea, UV-A (315 to 380 nm) is absorbed by the crystalline lens, and visible light (380 to 780 nm) transmits through the lens and onto the retina for interpretation of vision and color.

The retina has two types of light receptors, rods and cones. Rods are in high abundance in the periphery of the retina and detect dim light as well as movement. Rods are important for night vision but do not have the ability to perceive light as color, which is the main reason we cannot see colors well at night. Cones on the other hand, are in high concentration in the center of the retina or the area known as the macula.

The eye has three types of cones, and they are responsible for processing bright light for color vision. "S" cones process short wavelengths to interpret BLUE light, "M" cones process short wavelengths to interpret GREEN light, and "L" cones process short wavelengths to interpret RED light.


Two unique features of color-enhancing sunlens technology versus regular sunglass lenses is their ability to selectively filter various wavelengths of the visible light spectrum to optimize stimulation of the three cone receptors. In doing so, these lenses significantly boost absorption rates of potentially harmful blue light and have a high absorption rate of harsh yellow light. The result is superior ocular protection, unsurpassed visual clarity and exceptional color recognition. The lens transmission charts shown below provide a comparison of three of the most popular lenses available on the market today to a standard polarized sunglass lens.

The transmission of colors in a standard polarized lens is much more uniform or saturated as compared to the various color-enhancing lenses shown above. A saturated transmission curve of a sunglass lens will darken the environment, but the colors can appear dull.

Absorption of harsh yellow light is a critical component to further reducing saturation and making colors appear even more vibrant. Yellow light occupies a narrow band within the visible light spectrum, 570 to 590 nm, and sits in between the green and red range of the visible light spectrum. Even though the range of yellow light is narrow, it has a tendency to saturate green and red, which in turn reduces contrast of these colors. As discussed previously, the human eye only has red, green and blue color receptors, and the greatest contrast occurs by selectively transmitting these colors in order to stimulate all cones for true color enhancement.

Blue light and its effect on vision: The shorter wavelengths of blue light causes it to scatter when traveling through a medium. As blue light passes through the atmosphere it scatters, thus causing the sky to appear blue (Rayleigh scattering). Blue light also scatters upon entering the eye and passes through the crystalline lens. The scattering of blue light causes the lens to fluoresce slightly, thus making these shorter wavelengths myopic and fall short of the retina. These phenomena is referred to as HAZE and results in a decrease in visual clarity. One of the main reasons many professionals such as competitive anglers and sharpshooters who rely on absolute visual clarity prefer lenses with high absorption rates of HEV blue light is for their ability to reduce haze.


For decades we've warned consumers about the importance of protecting their eyes from the sun's harmful UV rays. We know that UV light is harmful to our eyes, linked to cataract development and skin cancer. Therefore, we never prescribe a sunglass without UV protection. In fact, doing so would simply be unethical. Over the last several years we have been learning more about the new threat— high-energy visible (HEV) light, or otherwise referred to as blue light. It's nearly impossible to avoid the conversation with regards to blue light today as it has become one of the most talked about and written topics in the optical industry for various reasons. It has become a well-known fact that certain wavelengths of blue light can affect our sleep patterns by suppressing melatonin production when our eyes' exposure is too close to bedtime. This is of particular concern with longer blue wavelengths of approximately 460 to 490 which sleep scientists indicate are the wavelengths that our intrinsically photoreceptive retinal ganglion cells are most entrained to.

As our concern with ozone layer depletion grows, and the increase of the sun's harmful rays increases with that concern, we cannot ignore the intensity of blue light being transmitted from the sun.

The transmission charts below show the intensity of the various wavelengths (colors) from three separate light sources (Blue Light Hazard: New Knowledge, New Approaches to Maintaining Ocular Health, UV-BluelightEbook-edition-2-web). Blue light is present indoors and outdoors. However, the amount of blue light present in daylight conditions is significantly higher than indoor artificial sources, devices and lighting.


Significant research has been done in this area, and the results are ALARMING! Blue light can cause irreversible damage to the retina as noted in the below chart that shows how various wavelengths of blue light contribute to retinal cell death.

Not all lenses are created equally. HEV Blue light has a broadband within the visible light spectrum, and sunglass manufacturers can make claims that their lenses absorb harmful blue light because of their ability to effectively absorb up to 400 nm. This is also true with most polarized lenses. While their claims for absorbing blue light are true, it is important to fully understand their ability to filter beyond 400 nm when recommending lens options for those who want exceptional clarity and protection. As seen in the transmission curves of color-enhancing lenses, their ability to boost the absorption rates of HEV up to 430 nm results in superior protection. The greater the absorption rate of HEV, the greater the protection to the eye.

Overall, color-enhancing sunglass lenses provide you with a new opportunity to offer your patients the most advanced lens technology for better visual clarity and superior protection. The ability of the team to understand your customer's needs and effectively recommend appropriate solutions will increase second pair sales while maximizing revenue potential for your practice. When done properly and consistently, the likelihood of word of mouth (WOM) advertising increases for your business.