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Why dissatisfied customers are your most important

Troubleshoots can be a speedhump in optical dispensing and take time away from the shopfloor but, as NICOLE GRASSO explains, how you handle complaints can ultimately set your practice apart.

Customer satisfaction has become more important than ever. The Australian optical industry is expanding at a rapid pace, meaning customers have increasingly more options at their fingertips to meet their optical needs.

If a customer has a positive experience they will share their experience with family, friends, and connections – all at no charge to your store. But what happens when they receive a product that isn’t performing to their expectations?

A study from Esteban Kolsky shows 13% of unhappy customers share their complaint with 15 or more people. Only one in 25 customers will share their complaint directly with you. Of that one in 25 who do share their frustrations, this is a chance to make amends. How you handle this can set your practice apart.

Having the ability to improve and influence customers’ vision is a responsibility optical dispensers should not take for granted. When something goes astray during the dispensing process, it can have a huge impact on the customers’ quality of life.

No two customers are the same. Each troubleshoot is going to present a unique structure of issues that we need to handle delicately. But how do we get the best outcome from unhappy customers?

The Trust Equation can help, see Figure 1.

Figure 1 – The Trust Equation. Creditability refers to the words that we speak. Reliability refers to actions. Vulnerability refers to the security we feel when entrusting someone. Selfishness refers to focus. Is your focus on yourself or is your attention elsewhere? Credit:

The goal is to build great relationships with your customers. The idea is to have high creditability, reliability and vulnerability and low selfishness. We can incorporate the Trust Equation into all interactions and troubleshooting by being open and transparent, caring about their story authentically, willing to take risks, dependable and focused on the customer’s objectives.

Listen to what they’re saying. It’s not you vs the customer – it’s you and the customer vs the issue. Take yourself out of the equation, each issue brought up from the customer is coming from a place of frustration. Sight is a huge factor in our daily lives and having spectacles that aren’t providing clear vision can be discouraging.

When handling a troubleshoot, ask a mixture of open and closed questions like:

  • When and where are you experiencing these issues?

  • Do you need to hold your head at a certain angle to get clearer vision? Can you show me that position?

  • Can you describe how your workstation is set up?

Sometimes it can be difficult to grasp a customer’s full day-to-day activities in their spectacles at dispense. The more questions we ask, the better understanding we have to find a solution. Having a clear troubleshooting guideline in your store can greatly benefit your team members to resolving issues. It should address things such as:

  • Check the position of wear and go over the six key steps of final fitting. Horizontal alignment, pantoscopic angle, side width, side bow, length to bend and anatomical bend.

  • If the spectacles are ill-fitting, it can completely change the lens’ performance.

  • Re-check the measurements. Have the heights and pupil distances been measured monocularly? Was back vertex distance, pantoscopic angle and frame wrap considered at the dispense?

  • Take time to observe how the customer moves as they speak. When they pick up something such as reading material or their glasses case, are they changing their direction of gaze or predominantly moving their head? This can have a huge influence on the success of certain lens designs such as progressives and bifocals, if the customer has not been properly coached on how to use the lens design.

By electing a designated team member instore to monitor and collate data, your store gets the opportunity to identify patterns and trends. If your store doesn’t already, it might be worth tracing the patterns and considering whether any are reoccurring? Starting a log of errors based on customer feedback and breaking it into relevant subsections is a great starting place. Over the span of a month or two your dedicated staff member can correlate where issues are occurring.

Highlighting this can result in better team training activities by individualising specific needs, rather than broad training. Training is best absorbed when it is interactive, educational, and engaging. Every mistake is a lesson that you can build from.

Remember customers pay close attention to our actions when they’re feeling distressed. The way you interact after their problem is resolved sets the stage for future encounters. It can be the difference between a loyal customer and losing one.

In fact, if your post-complaint actions are done successfully, the next time your customer talks about your business, they will reflect on the great level of service they received.

// Nicole Grasso

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Nicole Grasso is a trainer at the Australasian College of Optical Dispensing and works as a part-time optical dispenser for Specsavers on the Central Coast, NSW. She is a qualified optical dispenser (Certificate IV in 2017) and completed her Certificate IV in Training and Assessing in 2021.

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