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Thread: Customer Perceptions

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    Master OptiBoarder keithbenjamin's Avatar
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    Customer Perceptions

    Having fun at the consumer's expense seems to be a recurring theme and I mistakenly and unwelcomely(?) posted the following in one such thread:

    This could be a valuable thread if it were about:

    -What are customer perceptions?
    -Why do customers have these perceptions?
    -How can we best change/address/work around these perceptions?

    instead of devolving into another "my customers are soo stupid because..." thread.

    My belief is there is growing perception, due largely to the internet, that brick and mortar opticals have been ripping customers off for years, charging 4 to 10x what they should have been. Now more than ever people are looking to save a buck (or a few hundred). And being indignant in approaching these perceptions only serves to reinforce them. There has to be a more constructive way to address these issues. Looking at them from the perspective of your customer instead of an optician might be a good start.
    It was suggested I start another thread, so here it is.

    I understand people like to vent and have fun, but I suspect some of the attitudes go further than that. This is not directed at any one person so please don't be offended but, it just gets under my skin how many opticians on the one hand demand more respect then on the other give their customers none. There are reasons opticians are having difficulty these days and I thought it might be constructive to look at things from a customer's perspective for a change instead of talking about how stupid they can be.

    -Keith
    Last edited by keithbenjamin; 11-18-2008 at 04:30 PM.

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    Hey, let me be the first!!

    On the serious side, there are some consumers that are innocently misinformed through hear say with optical customers that have had bad experiences. Good experiences never seem to travel as far.

    It would be nice to hear the general public consensus of what they truthfully think about our industry. We should listen and learn and change as a whole where needed. The times are changing and we need to adjust to survive and protect our professions for the long run.

    I sure hope it's not the bad mechanic mentality out there.

    Heck, 9 out of 10 consumers can't even explain the differences between an Optometrist or Optician.

    So where do we begin, when two of the three O's can't even agree or get along on this forum???

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    Master OptiBoarder OptiBoard Silver Supporter Barry Santini's Avatar
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    We begin where I'm always saying to begin:

    Recognize that it is *insurance* that has largely created the *current* infighting with the O's.

    Dr. O's get mucho reduced fees for exams...so they want (need) to supplement their income $$$ with money from dispensing, but...

    VSP and others see to it that that won't happen either.
    So its everyman for himself (or herself)

    And the lens and frame companies further crap it all up with the desire (need?) to sell to costco, walmart, etc, at greatly reduced prices..
    (can't "leave any money on the table for others, can we?")

    Decreased margins which, BTW, we the independant, subsidize by paying "full" price

    It's all BS, since NONE of it is about superior products or services, just where is the next great (temporary) cash cow comin' from.

    Yep, no relaistic solution comin' from me.

    But the current *unraveling* bears witness to my premise...

    Tomorrow, make a promise to strive for the very best. If your lens, frame, or insurance company is not on board with this goal...

    Kick 'em overboard!

    My 2 cents.

    Barry

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    opti-tipster harry a saake's Avatar
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    ???

    I am quite sure that one reason the public holds us in low esteem at times, is we have too many people in the business that are not properly trained. there are a lot of reasons for this.

    everyone, chains od,s , md,s have all contributed to this mess, all for the sake of money.

    a licensed or certified at least, optician should be looking over every sale that takes place for eyeglasses or contacts

    however this is almost impossible to do, especially in the chain operations, unless you want to be the most unpopular employee working there. yeh, you can cite your legal and moral obligation to do that, but you wont last long, unless that is the premise to start with.

    it has always amazed me how many young men and women i have worked with, that after they take 5 or 6 pd,s and seg heights, you cant tell them anything after that.

    this to me is where it needs to start, but i dont see it happening

  5. #5
    Master OptiBoarder OptiBoard Gold Supporter Judy Canty's Avatar
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    I'm not so sure that the insurance industry has created the rift between the O's. It hasn't helped, but if you look as far back as the early '70's, the mistrust and lack of respect has been there for a while. Who could forget the "Samurai Optometrist" bit on SNL? If you haven't seen it, or like most of us for whom that era is a little fuzzy, find it online and watch it.

    Insurance has exacerbated the bad feelings and the internet has allowed us to take a sledgehammer to each other in relative anonymity. Someone or some organization needs to make the first move to stop this incessant whining.

    We forget how many people lurk on forums like this one, so we forget that we are leaving a very bad impression of all the O's. I always check to see who's online AND how many "Guests" are on as well. It's very eye-opening.

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    What I love and hate to hear, is when making a prosthetic eye for a child, mother asks: "When will he be ready for a transplant?"

    One would think the surgeon would kind of clue them in on this long before they see me.

    Chip
    Last edited by chip anderson; 11-18-2008 at 07:04 PM. Reason: Should have a question mark at the end of sentance.

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    Master OptiBoarder OptiBoard Gold Supporter DragonLensmanWV's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Judy Canty View Post
    I'm not so sure that the insurance industry has created the rift between the O's. It hasn't helped, but if you look as far back as the early '70's, the mistrust and lack of respect has been there for a while. Who could forget the "Samurai Optometrist" bit on SNL? If you haven't seen it, or like most of us for whom that era is a little fuzzy, find it online and watch it.

    Insurance has exacerbated the bad feelings and the internet has allowed us to take a sledgehammer to each other in relative anonymity. Someone or some organization needs to make the first move to stop this incessant whining.

    We forget how many people lurk on forums like this one, so we forget that we are leaving a very bad impression of all the O's. I always check to see who's online AND how many "Guests" are on as well. It's very eye-opening.
    Remember when Buck Henry referred to him as Samurai Optician?:D
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    In an unliscensed state there are many less than ready for primetime optical employees out there. In any office or store front there should be at least one seasoned professional who can oversee the trainees and lend a hand when needed. Many times I step in and take over an adjustment or am asked by our younger staff to check their measurements or speak to a customer. This is all part of their training and each time I "step in" they learn something. Too many offices would never hire someone like me. I cost too much therefore their customers never recieve skilled care and have no clue there is a difference. I also like to stress that our dispensors talk to our customers in a way that will educate them. It's easy to rush through a sales pitch, bag the sale, take the deposit and say "have a nice day". I insist that we take our time and make sure our customers understand their Rx and all of the options available to them. I like to say "Don't push, educate". Still after spending an hour "educating" a customer they still take their Rx and go to where they can get 2 for 1. And then they have the gall to actually come back with their traitor glasses to have me fix the terrible adjustment they recieved. This always stupifys me and I only wish I could think of a good line to give them when this happens.

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    On a different note (I was thinking after posting). Consumers percieve higher prices as greed. The reality is that most of us would love to go back to the days before third party insurance. This may be the biggest reason for higher prices as we have had to pass on the loss unfortunately to the cash patients and to those that pay non-discounted co-pays. Not for greed but to pay the bills and make a modest living. I could slice our prices in half across the board and still make it work if the insurance companies weren't forcing me to keep marking product up. Do you think if you ask me to discount another 20% that I'm not going to make up for it somewhere? But it is what it is and I have no say over the matter. Just the other night after a particularly dismal sales week one of the owners said "Maybe you need to call those other insurance carriers and get us on the panels". Do you mean the ones we rejected because the provider payment was less than wholesale or the one who sent us a check with a negative payment?" Yes, those were the ones. Now why would we shoot ourselves in the foot I ask you?

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    Master OptiBoarder OptiBoard Gold Supporter Judy Canty's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DragonLensmanWV View Post
    Remember when Buck Henry referred to him as Samurai Optician?:D
    Fell off my chair laughing...:bbg:

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    Quote Originally Posted by keithbenjamin View Post
    Having fun at the consumer's expense seems to be a recurring theme and I mistakenly and unwelcomely(?) posted the following in one such thread:



    It was suggested I start another thread, so here it is.

    I understand people like to vent and have fun, but I suspect some of the attitudes go further than that. This is not directed at any one person so please don't be offended but, it just gets under my skin how many opticians on the one hand demand more respect then on the other give their customers none. There are reasons opticians are having difficulty these days and I thought it might be constructive to look at things from a customer's perspective for a change instead of talking about how stupid they can be.

    -Keith
    I like this thread..:cheers:..I think you have a point Keith...I try really hard to look at things from my customers perspective. I walk in my front door so I can see what it looks like when my pt walks in...I sit in my chairs in the dispensary, and look around, I want to see it from their stand-point..looking at my dispensary this way has helped my dispensary alot, I think.

    Something I've been doing lately, is not "selling"...I'm talking with the pt about their RX and their lifestyle (hobbies, work, sports, etc.) once we talk about that, then we can talk about what frames and lenses would give them the best performance (I've always done this to a point, but I'm trying to take it to a new level, I want the pt to feel comfortable with me and know that I'm here to help, not just sell)...I want pt's to know how the lenses will work for them...Just another way of educating the pt. In the past I've been told I give too much information, but the truth is...I like letting the pt know what they are getting and why it would be important for them to have it, then letting them decide if it's worth it to them.

    I know many Opticians that feel the same way I do...we don't want to appear as just another sales person. For me, there is nothing better than to have the phone ring and the pt on the other end of the line is thanking me for their specs or asking me questions about contact lens options, or wanting to know more about other options for task-specific lenses...those are the kind of questions/responses I strive for.

    I don't know if this is the "right" way to go about gaining my customer's respect, but it's worth a try. :)
    ___________________________________________

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by Barry Santini View Post
    Decreased margins which, BTW, we the independant, subsidize by paying "full" price

    It's all BS, since NONE of it is about superior products or services, just where is the next great (temporary) cash cow comin' from.
    Barry

    Couldn't agree more!:cheers:

    They (many opticians) pay full price, to companies that are their competition (rhymes with BUX), as well as companies that subsidies their competition (VSP), and then they complain about how they can't get ahead.:hammer:
    Ophthalmic Optician, Society to Advance Opticianry

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    Quote Originally Posted by Johns View Post
    Couldn't agree more!:cheers:

    They (many opticians) pay full price, to companies that are their competition (rhymes with BUX), as well as companies that subsidies their competition (VSP), and then they complain about how they can't get ahead.:hammer:
    I have said for YEARS that if the independents (labs, 3 O's, opticians, frame and lens vendors) don't ban together, educate the buying public about real value versus perceived value, then someday there will only be corporate eyewear in existence. Take the frame market for example, I have been asked hundreds of times to populate medicaid style contracts with "better quality" frames. I always ask the requester to define quality to me. I explain to them that in today's market a majority (I said majority) of consumer recognizable brands are made right beside and in the same production lot as the frames they consider to be lesser quality(based on a logo). Usually we make no changes.

    Of course I don't ever expect the independents to come together so I don't waste much of my time talking about it. The big boys have put up just about every road block concievable.

    Most patients I talk to have only about a 10% clue of what they want, what really makes a quality pair of eyewear and almost none of them correlate a little higher price with a service guaranty.
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    Master OptiBoarder keithbenjamin's Avatar
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    Thanks, Heather. Good stuff!

    So, let me throw something else out there. Whenever we talk about the state of opticianry, there are always the cries for more education, licensure, stricter requirements, but little or no mention of improving soft skills. A lot of opticians might consider it selling and beneath them, but I really think a significant chunk of the eyewear sales is boiling down to a PR battle (this applies to O.D.s and D.O.s).

    As Eyeman pointed out, negative word of mouth has a significantly greater impact and is more likely to be embellished than positive word of mouth, which is why I think it is so important that opticians find a constructive way of addressing consumers looking for ways to save money online. To an optician it may make no sense, but to the consumer it obviously does. If a customer gets treated poorly when looking for a PD measurement or an adjustment, not only will it reinforce their justification for buying their glasses online (which probably doesn’t matter much, since you most likely had little chance of gaining them as a customer anyway), but you can be sure they'll go out tell their friends about how poorly they were treated by the optician in addition to how much money they saved online, assuming they end up with a functional pair of glasses. Chalk up one for online retailers and minus ten for opticians.

    There are a lot of people out there actively campaigning for online eyewear purchases…. and not just the online stores. Check out glassyeyes.com, or listen to Clark Howard, if you haven't already. Do a search for "saving money on eyeglasses" and see how many blog entries you find praising online retailers and deriding opticians. Even if the information doesn’t convince everyone to shop online, it still plants a seed that opticians might just be out to rip you off. …and by looking at the price differential that argument can carry a lot of water.

    Customer perceptions.

    -Keith

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    but i dont see it happening..........................

    Quote Originally Posted by harry a saake View Post

    .................it has always amazed me how many young men and women i have worked with, that after they take 5 or 6 pd,s and seg heights, you cant tell them anything after that.

    this to me is where it needs to start, but i dont see it happening
    Very well said Harry.

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    Master OptiBoarder OptiBoard Silver Supporter Barry Santini's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by cocoisland58 View Post
    Consumers percieve higher prices as greed.


    Yes, true, but...

    They also equally tend to rationalize or justify thr higher price for a product or service as "you get what you pay for". It's really up to *us* to help the public "flip" their perceptions on this one.

    The reality is that most of us would love to go back to the days before third party insurance. This may be the biggest reason for higher prices as we have had to pass on the loss unfortunately to the cash patients and to those that pay non-discounted co-pays.
    Gee, Insurance is the worst thing about eyewear and eyecare today?
    Couldn't have said it better myself!

    Barry

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    OptiBoard Professional Eyefish's Avatar
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    When I walk in my office, I treat every pt. just as I wish to be treated when I walk into an office or retail store for that matter. Everyone today is looking for a deal, all of us included. But if we educate the pt's on product, then they can make the correct desicion on what is best for them. The problem in selling eyewear is just that, SELLING. Educate and inform, and treat EVERY pt. with respect and know your doing your best and all will work out. And if you cannot educate them, then educate yourself first!
    LDO, ABOC, NCLEC

    Slow down everyone your moving to fast, frames can't catch you when your moving like that!

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    Optiboard Professional Bill West's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by harry a saake View Post
    i am quite sure that one reason the public holds us in low esteem at times, is we have too many people in the business that are not properly trained. There are a lot of reasons for this.

    Even with the proper training they have to want to do a good job. I'm always amazed at how some people "adjust" eyeglasses. Just yesterday I "re-adjusted a pair of glasses that had been picked up the day before. "they are killing me" she said, and looking behind her ears at the big red raw places, I could see why. They came from big chain store.

    everyone, chains od,s , md,s have all contributed to this mess, all for the sake of money.

    frankly "chains" pay better than most eye doc's, hours are worse, but pay is why we work. I have said for years. I don't understand going to school, doing a first class eye exam on high dollar equipment, writing a great rx and handing it to a "hairdresser" to fill it in their own office. Then wonder why they still struggle.

    a licensed or certified at least, optician should be looking over every sale that takes place for eyeglasses or contacts

    they need to do the work.

    however this is almost impossible to do, especially in the chain operations, unless you want to be the most unpopular employee working there. Yeh, you can cite your legal and moral obligation to do that, but you wont last long, unless that is the premise to start with.

    It has always amazed me how many young men and women i have worked with, that after they take 5 or 6 pd,s and seg heights, you cant tell them anything after that.

    I would like to thank all these folk for doing a lousy job over the years and allowing me to make great money in this profession. Thanks and keep it up guys and gals.

    This to me is where it needs to start, but i dont see it happening
    attitude attitude

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    Quote Originally Posted by Eyefish View Post
    When I walk in my office, I treat every pt. just as I wish to be treated when I walk into an office or retail store for that matter. Everyone today is looking for a deal, all of us included. But if we educate the pt's on product, then they can make the correct desicion on what is best for them. The problem in selling eyewear is just that, SELLING. Educate and inform, and treat EVERY pt. with respect and know your doing your best and all will work out. And if you cannot educate them, then educate yourself first!
    Good point!! About the time I get frustrated, I always think...'how would I want my mom or grandma treated, right now??' That usually snaps me out of the frustration..and puts the situation in perspective.

    Quote Originally Posted by keithbenjamin View Post
    ...There are a lot of people out there actively campaigning for online eyewear purchases…. and not just the online stores. Check out glassyeyes.com, or listen to Clark Howard, if you haven't already. Do a search for "saving money on eyeglasses" and see how many blog entries you find praising online retailers and deriding opticians. Even if the information doesn’t convince everyone to shop online, it still plants a seed that opticians might just be out to rip you off. …and by looking at the price differential that argument can carry a lot of water.

    Customer perceptions.

    -Keith
    I think it is so funny that you mentioned this...I had a pt come in last week and say (and, I kid you not!)...'I'm here, because Clark Howard sent me!'

    At first I didn't quite get what she meant, but then she told me that she listens to Clark Howard and he says that people need to wise-up and shop around and really look to those small businesses in their towns, that sometimes they have great service at lower prices than people may realize...of course this is the pt talking, but it struck me how Clark Howard's comments made an obvious impact on her ( and who-knows how many others like her) and those comments are what helped her make a choice to look around for what she wanted. :)
    ___________________________________________

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    Quote Originally Posted by Heather A;273135
    I think it is so funny that you mentioned this...I had a pt come in last week and say [SIZE=1
    (and, I kid you not!)...[/SIZE]'I'm here, because Clark Howard sent me!'

    At first I didn't quite get what she meant, but then she told me that she listens to Clark Howard and he says that people need to wise-up and shop around and really look to those small businesses in their towns, that sometimes they have great service at lower prices than people may realize...of course this is the pt talking, but it struck me how Clark Howard's comments made an obvious impact on her ( and who-knows how many others like her) and those comments are what helped her make a choice to look around for what she wanted. :)
    So did she buy anything or was she just "shopping around"?

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    Master OptiBoarder keithbenjamin's Avatar
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    I think your patient may not listen to much Clark Howard. While I'm sure he advocates shopping local, IF it saves you money, Clark is HUGE fan of Zenni Optical.

    -Keith

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    Master OptiBoarder OptiBoard Silver Supporter Now I See's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by eyestrain View Post
    So did she buy anything or was she just "shopping around"?
    Yes and yes, she had been shopping around, then bought from me.


    Quote Originally Posted by keithbenjamin View Post
    I think your patient may not listen to much Clark Howard. While I'm sure he advocates shopping local, IF it saves you money, Clark is HUGE fan of Zenni Optical.

    -Keith
    Well, I thought the same thing...I don't listen to him myself, but I thought that he was more of an on-line-glasses-kind-a-guy (maybe he's had a recent bad experience with them and is changing his mind?? LOL :D)...maybe it was more about Mr. Howard saying 'shop local' that got her to look around to start with. When she came in and said what she did, all I did was say, 'well come on in and have a look, it can't hurt to shop around'...she came in, we looked at frames and talked about what she needed, then we sat down for measurments and she left happy.

    Either way, what I took from it was how powerful suggestions from people (friends, news-media, radio, family, etc.) can be.
    ___________________________________________

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