Kevin Count: Listen and Learn

Serving patients by Kevin Count

By asking questions and paying attention, you can take away your customers’ pain.

This article originally appeared in the November-December 2015 edition of INVISION.

How do you find and remedy “the pain point” with someone who has just walked into your eyecare business for the first time?

That’s easy. Talk with them. By that I mean ask about their lives, family, vacations, what do they do for a living, and so on.

But most important, listen. Listen. Listen. People will tell you all about themselves if you create a comfortable atmosphere. By listening, you can frame out their day-to-day lives and start probing for the pain.

Here’s an example. Banker/financial adviser, mother of four, single mom. Kids are older now: two in college and two kids in high school, a senior and sophomore. Wears progressives and is happy enough with them. Works long days on a dual screen computer and moves around the office a lot because she has taken a new position in a banking center. Works in the ultra-high wealth sector. Invests people with $2 million-plus in assets.

Where’s the pain?

The pain is at the computer. This person says she is “happy enough” with her specs. Ask more questions and you find out her vision is a problem when she moves from computer to the client and back.

The pain is in the style. She is moving in high-end circles. Generic won’t cut it and name brands with big logo’s are a no-go. But with two kids in college, one more starting next year and another just a few years after that, money isn’t flowing like it used to. Pain is also in price, although we don’t know yet where the breakpoint is.

I have been known to have people try on styles I know won’t work just to say I don’t like them. An honest reaction builds trust you won’t guide them the wrong way."

The pain is in time and attention. Mothers, no matter how many children they have, are time-starved. They need someone to listen to what they need and act upon it. Don’t fluff it all up and act foolish. They came to you because they wanted the help of a professional.

Once you know the pain points, you can make the customer feel them more deeply. Show empathy over the eyestrain and neck strain she’s experiencing, let alone frustration that she has to lean in or out while she’s working on a client’s portfolio. Say you understand the need for contemporary style without going overboard. Show detailed focus and attention to what she says.

Then make the pain go away. Tell her you have a solution. Talk about office lenses and present fashionable lines in mid- to high price points and be honest about the styles. (I have been known to have people try on styles I know won’t work just to say I don’t like them. A simple sign of honest reaction builds trust that you won’t guide them the wrong way.)

Work up and down in price. Your customers will guide you on their comfort level. And always remember: Never assume — based on job, family or appearance — what you think a person can pay. They know what they can afford. Your job is to help your customer sell themselves on the idea of better vision, and of solutions that will take away their pain.

Kevin Count, an American Board of Opticianry Master, is the owner of Prentice Optical Lab and manager of Corner Optical in Glenview, IL. He specializes in finding the best — not the most obvious — solutions for complex prescriptions, and he is a founding member of the Society to Advance Opticianry.