optical sales eyewear best practices Eye Spy Optical

This article originally appeared in the Nov-Dec 2014 edition of INVISION.

Eclectic Chicago optical boutique celebrates clients and their new eyewear with popular ‘Customer of the Week’ posts.

Eye Spy Optical is a fashion-forward Chicago shop that sells more red and purple frames than black. Devotees of the offbeat eyewear at this eclectic boutique — which feels more like a living room than retail shop — have voted Eye Spy the city’s “Best Optical Store” in two local magazines, but owner Alissa “Queen of Specs” Fields credits much of the store’s success to its embrace of customers who crave the unusual.

And since their personalities are often as colorful as the eyewear they purchase, Fields uses images of her customers (instead of ad campaigns with professional models) to promote Eye Spy’s eyewear offerings. “I really like to show what our eyewear looks like on real people,” she says. Each week, an Eye Spy staff member selects a customer who has purchased an interesting frame with a story to tell, takes a photo of them in their new eyewear, and features them as “Customer of the Week” on Eye Spy’s Web and social media pages. — KIM GIANSANTE


THE IDEA: In 1998, when Fields opened Eye Spy Optical, she used an Instamatic camera to take photos of her customers and hang the pictures around her store. A few years later, the photos turned into slide shows that would run on a continuous loop. Fields says she knew customers enjoyed seeing themselves in their new eyewear because they would hang out in her store waiting for their images to appear.

When she started a blog seven years ago, Fields needed a reliable source of content. It made sense to feature her customers and their eyewear purchases as an extension of what she was already doing with photos and slide shows. When Eye Spy had its website redesigned, the blog feature became a weekly post and was officially named Customer of the Week.


THE REWARDS: A hip website and the growth of social media have helped magnify the Customer of the Week posts. “We get calls from people from all over asking if they can order the frames they saw on ‘Joanne,’” says Fields. “Customers featured also share their online photos with their friends through Facebook or other social media, or send a link to Eye Spy Optical’s website. The program has been great because it encourages our customers to advertise for us.”

Fields says the weekly posts also provide an opportunity to build on existing relationships with eyewear devotees who are the store’s best customers. Eye Spy clients share the enthusiasm for how amazing they look in their new eyewear. “Most of our customers are proud of the eyewear they purchase and are happy to have their photo taken and tell their story,” says Fields.


DO IT YOURSELF:

Decide how often you want to feature a customer: weekly, bi-weekly or monthly. “We have a new Customer of the Week post every Monday,” says Alissa Fields. “At least that’s the goal.”

Don’t limit who selects the customer. Fields says it’s more engaging when you allow all members of your optical staff the freedom to choose.

Select a customer based on: 1) Personality — did your optician have a good time helping someone? 2) Is it a long-time customer? or 3) Does their new eyewear look amazing on them?

Be sure to include a written post with the photo to explain why someone purchased the eyewear they did or what drew them to your optical store. See samples at eyespyoptical.com.

Get permission to post images. Eye Spy Optical relies on verbal permission from its customers to post their photos, but you might consider obtaining a signed photo release.

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