A: YOUR EXISTING CUSTOMERS. Think about it: By pleasing the people who are already coming to you for eyecare and eyewear, you’re keeping them happy — and they’re much more likely to recommend you to their family and friends. That’s especially true for your Raving Fans. As Ken Blanchard and Sheldon Bowles wrote in the best-selling business book of that name, customer service is generally so lackluster that people rarely expect much more than mediocrity — and they’re extra-wowed when they encounter businesses that deliver more than that pitiful baseline. We asked our Brain Squad members to tell us about instances where they went out of their way (sometimes far, far out of their way) to deliver rave-worthy service. We got too many great stories to print, though we enjoyed reading them all. Here’s a selection to inspire you.
Remember the viral video going around about the little girl who’d just gotten her first glasses? Julie Uram of Optical Oasis in Jupiter, FL, has had that experience, too. Uram says she’s “old school” and regularly delivers eyewear to nursing homes, meets clients after hours ... “whatever I need to do to make my customer happy. I did once drop a pair of glasses to a young boy at his school. It was his first pair. When he put them on, his eyes lit up and he got a huge smile on his face. He didn’t know what he’d been missing. It still brings tears to my eyes. What a great feeling.”
Tamara Walker of Eyepolis in Homestead, PA, says, “I used to have a customer, a paraplegic, who would come in for glasses. She communicated with a light pen attached to her specs, which she pointed at a computer alpha tablet on her wheelchair table. She was always all done up, hair and makeup. The other opticians were really intimidated by all of the ‘technology,’ so she became my client. She was always a blast, super happy, but a challenge. Finding a pair of eyewear that fit her style and accommodated her light pen sometimes took hours ... but it was totally worth it.”
Like most ECPs, Deanna Gusk of Cambridge Eye Associates in Cambridge, MN, likes her Sundays. But she heard from a friend of a friend whose son, home from college, had been suffering severe migraines. His doctor recommended that he have an eye exam and it turned out he had astigmatism and needed help right away or he’d have to delay his return to school in Missouri. “I mentioned to my friend that I’d be happy to help on the only day that worked for the patient ... Sunday! He met me, picked out an awesome Oakley, I made the Rx and he’s one headache-free happy camper to this day!”
Paula Hornbeck of Eye Candy in Delafield, WI, says, “ A customer ordered a pair of glasses from us while she was in town. She was leaving the next day for home many states away. After she left, I realized I had forgotten to take her PD. I met her at the drop-off area of the airport 40 miles from the store with my pupilometer the next day and took her PD just before she flew out of town. She was thrilled with my extra effort and loved her new glasses when she got them.”
BE OUR GUEST
Dr. Mark Perry of Vision Health Institute in Orlando, FL, recalls a time when a fellow Vision Source doctor from Oregon called “to ask if it would be possible to give a patient of his a pair of trial contact lenses because she had lost her only pair while here in Orlando. I personally delivered the CL trials to their hotel 20 miles away. The patient felt like a VIP, the Oregon doctor was pleased that he was able to solve his patient’s dilemma and I was more than happy to help.”
Todd Lapointe of VIP Eyes in Portland, ME, had an older patient who developed cancer on the right side of his head around his ear lobe. “The cancer spread rapidly and eventually he had to have his ear removed. Needless to say, fitting a pair of eyeglasses to him was pretty much impossible. We tried everything, but because the right side of his head was so tender — and to avoid any kind of infection — we weren’t allowed to have any material touch that side of his head. All this customer really wanted to do was read the newspaper in the morning.
“One night, I was sitting at home and happened to glance at my DVD collection and saw that one of my children had pulled out The Matrix, and it hit me. Perhaps a pair of ‘Morpheus’ glasses would work!” Lapointe found a dealer for a templefree frame about an hour’s drive away, made a Sunday appointment to fetch the spectacles “and proceeded to fill a FT-35 prescription for the customer. I drove it out to his house upon completion and was able to get my customer reading the newspaper that night! He was thrilled! His head has now healed enough to allow a strap on his eyeglasses and he does not wear the ‘Morpheus’ glasses anymore but for that short window of time when it seemed like nothing would work ...we found a solution.” Lapointe doesn’t know whether the good deed brought any extra benefit to his business, “but my job as an optician is pretty simple...help people see better. And that is what I did.”
FRIENDS IN NEED
Dr. Blake Hutto of Family Vision Care in Alma, GA, remembers, “I was referred a young male patient to fit in a specialty contact lens due to corneal disease. When calling to schedule his followup appointment, he hinted his day wasn’t going so well.” His staff discovered his family lost their home to fire the previous evening. “They were left without clothes, shoes and bare necessities. Our office staff and I went to work immediately contacting friends and churches and pooling resources. Within 30 minutes, we had $700 and five boxes of clothes for the family of four (who had another baby on the way). It was a testament to the service we’re destined to provide our patients beyond their visual needs.”
Tracy Roberts of Family Eye Care & Mavor Optical, Caribou, ME, says, “A few years ago, a young lady who has been a patient in our office for many years was in a tragic car accident in which she lost her daughter. Her glasses were lost in the accident, and she was not physically or mentally able to come in to choose a new pair of glasses. I scheduled a time to go to their house, and brought about 20 pairs of glasses for her to look at. She chose a pair, and we rushed the order for her through the lab and was able to get her the new glasses within a few days. We also covered the cost on her new glasses, and a supply of contact lenses. We figured the last thing she had to worry about was how she was going to pay for her glasses or contact lenses.”
The customers who drive you the most crazy can turn out to be the very ones you most want to wow. Wendy Salle of Salle Opticians in Atlanta, GA, tells of a time someone from South Africa came in to get some contact lenses. An hour (and several calls to South Africa) later, she was able to find lenses for theman, who was leaving town in the morning, all for $70 worth of contacts “and we all know how much profit is in that! He left, came back later that day with two of his friends, they started looking at sunglasses, he told them how nice I had been to help him. Three Maybachs and two Shamballa later ... $7,000! Sometimes it pays to do the little stuff.”
Diana Sims of Buena Vista Optical in Chicago tells of a time that a young couple came in 30 minutes before closing. They were picky and demanding and they had a hyper 3-year-old in tow. After 20 minutes of leisurely browsing, they had five pairs of high-end sunglasses and no decision. Meanwhile, their little girl was getting feisty and the couple were ignoring her, so a staff member sat down to play with her and share a leftover snack. Another half hour later, the couple asked Sims which of three pairs of sunglasses she’d buy — and she shared why she liked each of them. In the end, the couple bought all three pairs ... for $1,680 in cash. Then they bought Sims the sunglasses she liked most and tipped her co-worker $100 for taking care of the little girl.
WHATEVER IT TAKES
Josh Bladh of Dr. Taylor Bladh in Diamond Bar, CA, reports, “We do sports vision training and one of our athletes was going through a slump at the time. So I texted him and asked if he wanted me to come out for a couple of days and do some training with him. We’re based in SoCal, and the next series was being played in Philly so I flew out and met him at the hotel to do training with him. We didn’t charge him, just something we did to help him out. He then batted .350 for the rest of the season.”