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The Big survey

Big Survey 2023: The Patient Interactions That Best Sum Up the Past Three Years

We asked eyecare professionals to share an example of a patient or customer interaction that best encapsulated the last three years.




WE ASKED YOU to Tell Us About a Patient or Customer Interaction That Summed Up the Last Three Years and Responses Fell Into Two Camps

So, what kind of person are you? When you wake up tomorrow, will you be a Womp, Womp or a Woo Hoo?

It feels like in every scenario you have two sorts of people. I call it the Glass Half Full or Half Empty Theory.

Recently, we asked readers to tell us about an interaction with a patient or customer that summed up the last three years for them and we heard two very clear themes. Since we’re firm believers in the “bad news first, end on a high note” approach to life we’ll start with those glass half empty-ers:


Womp, Womp

  • Patient got multiple pairs of glasses made and wanted them mailed. Then had trouble with the Rx and we had to remake them all and mail them all again… Then they needed them adjusted (raised up for add) but assumed it something was wrong with the glasses. A mess but overall: Patients think glasses are a one size fits all.
  • Patient was upset we wouldn’t grant a warranty frame after three years because “Covid.” That frame doesn’t even exist anymore…
  • Patients being much more demanding yet less likely to pay.
  • It takes that long. Why are things so expensive?
  • We had a delay in processing of a patient’s order due to the frame getting hung up in customs. We called to notify the patient of this and she responded with “I’m so sick of everything being blamed on the pandemic! Get me my glasses!” Bear in mind we made no reference to the pandemic contributing to the delay merely that there was a delay in shipping. Patience and kindness seem to have eluded so many during the past few years.
  • “I love my glasses from you and I get so many compliments but I bought two other pairs online because they are cheaper.”
  • Up front: I just want an exam. I don’t want any eyewear from you.
  • “These glasses are JUNK!!!” – Patient slams down a pair of glasses that were not purchased at our office.
  • The rent is too damned high! Not as much discretionary spending due to groceries and gas.
  • Patient expects us to know all their individual benefits without presenting an insurance card or ID.
  • Patient came in and ordered glasses. Left and called the next day to cancel after signing an agreement stating that we cannot cancel custom eyewear. She canceled her check which also had her copay for exam. People have become inconsiderate and rude.
  • Constantly more price aware.
  • A BBB complaint was filed against me after I told a client that he needed to get an updated eye exam.
  • Tries on different sizes so they can buy direct from manufacturers.
  • We were short staff and I was running between the clinic and the optical. People were having longer wait times than normal and I was running by and the patient stopped me to YELL at me about the long wait time. I ended up telling her that we were short-staffed, doing our best and that the longer she had me stopped asking questions, the longer she was having to wait. I’m pretty tired of getting yelled at.
  • We had a patient who purchased glasses that had insurance we were out-of-network for. We gave him a receipt to try to get reimbursement from his insurance. When they refused him because we were out-of-network he thought we should reimburse him because we made him get his glasses here. Insurance is ridiculous! No one governs them. If you give a patient $100 toward glasses, why does it matter where they get them??
  • Using Google and instantly becoming a doctor.
  • A lot fewer new frame purchases. Patients reusing frames or buying online or in discount locations and wanting us to make the lenses. Frame reps not getting this as their earnings are being impacted and they likely don’t understand this is going on.
  • Sat with patient’s mom that was complaining that the optician was rude to her child. Verified information and fit child in frame measured and mom didn’t pay for order, told front desk she didn’t have the money; 30 minutes of my life I will never regain.
  • A patient whose lenses develop micro-scratches and peeling because of poor care…but they blame it on poor quality.
  • The economy is tanking and people can’t afford high end products… We had a major hurricane here five years ago and it definitely affected our bottom line.
  • Need to spend less money.
  • Contact lens wearer who now experiences more dryness because of remote work who is concerned about blue light and who has put off replenishing contact lens supplies and eyewear purchases because of the pandemic.
  • When patients say, “Boy, I never see the same face around here twice.”
  • Patient: “I need an eye exam.” Staff: “OK, next available appointment is [gives date 2-3 weeks out]”. Patient: “OMG THAT far out?! I can’t wait that long! I haven’t had my eyes checked in ten years!”
  • Patient asking for refund on glasses after wearing them for two years. Post pandemic people became a little more unreasonable/entitled.
  • People with insurance only wanting what’s covered.
  • I don’t have one interaction that comes to mind, but I am seeing much less patience from customers in the last three years. The desire for immediate and instant gratification is setting everyone up to fail. We try to manage the expectations but the turnaround at the lab is not something we can fix.
  • A woman came in with her daughter in our last half hour and was insisting the doctor look at her daughter’s eyes. She was not a patient and when we told her the doctor was currently with a patient she tried to push past us to walk into the exam room! The daughter was upset and crying and the mother was hysterical. We had to escort her out. Yep, this sums it up – “I’m the most important person you should drop everything to attend to ME.”
  • It is not a single person but society as a whole. Everyone always plays the victim and hyper-reacts to what are mundane things. We have become spoiled, fragile, and unstable people.
  • A customer could not make up her mind about a frame, she came in maybe seven times over three weeks to try the frame on, plus other frames. Despite asking her what her holdback was she just kept saying she was indecisive. Finally after two months she comes in to buy the glasses. When she came back in to pick them up, she instantly says ‘I don’t like the frame, I want a full refund.’ Because of this lady, I now have a cancelation policy and a firm ‘no frames returned’ policy.

Woo Hoo!

  • Sometimes patients don’t know that our eyes roll when they roll through the door. They have no idea that we think they are surely monsters. A few months ago an older man and I were disagreeing about whether he had to pay for upgraded lenses, and he refused to see the reality of the situation. As his voice was getting louder, I reached the end of my rope and told him “Sir, I have a list as long as your arm of associate complaints about your abuse and I would rather not make that list longer!” He thought a moment and then agreed to pay on the condition that I give him a copy of the notes. I agreed and as I handed the printout with a first line that read “He chewed me up and spit me out!” I thought to myself this can go very good… or very bad. I received an email from him within the hour. He said that while he did not agree with everything, that he wanted to apologize. I readily accepted. When he came to pick up his glasses I asked if we could be friends, “best friends” he replied. It ended very well.
  • When a patient calls me after wearing the eyewear purchased from me and raves about how much she likes them… Vision is great and the enormous amount of compliments she receives out in public.
  • The patient came back to thank us for good service and product.
  • Adjusting to pandemic, increased myopia incidence.
  • You probably saved my life.
  • When patient has been with us for decades comes back and is always complements the doctor and the staff.
  • I have patients driving hours to see me because of the service my office provides.
  • A long-time patient came in recently and repeatedly told us how warm and welcoming we are and how our energy has changed over the course of the last two years and how he will tell everyone about us.
  • “Wow, I bought these online for $24 and realized I need a good pair.”
  • Patients love our technology from how they make an appointment to how they order their contacts. They always notice something new we are doing. They also love our team in that they
    have been there a long time and are always going above and beyond.
  • I opened my cold start practice 100% private pay – no vision or medical insurance. The thing we hear most frequently at the end of an exam with frame purchase …. “but that’s what I paid WITH my insurance.”…. exactly.
  • Happy patients who we restyled in a beautiful independent frame line with premium lenses.
  • Longtime customer referring a friend.
  • Family…we become like family.
  • Many of our patients have been here for years and feel like family. We have seen many of them and they enjoy being recognized. It is our goal to get to know our patients and their families, it is always a pleasure to see their smile when they arrive and we know them!
  • There is a little girl who I’ve dispensed glasses to for the past few years, and she is a handful, but has stolen our hearts! Her family moved to the mid-west for missions, and her mom called asking about advice on her vision and glasses because she always trusts us. They apparently don’t have the same specialists available to her where she is now, and she really misses the care that she had in the northeast. All of the crazy days and evenings of the pandemic seem a little more worthwhile just hearing that mom say that we always gave her little girl such good care and she wishes that she could bring her to us!
  • Customer expressed appreciation for our staff being vaccinated and for all of staff asking the customer if they preferred us to wear masks during our interaction with them.
  • Most of our patient interactions are positive. Some of our patients will bring in “treats” for us – cookies or something to show their appreciation. Makes the whole staff feel appreciated!
  • You mean I have to pay that much after my insurance??
  • In general, patients are extremely pleased when they visit our office. We are very small, and patients like the family vibe of our office!
  • Our Google reviews regularly compliment us on quality of care for their vision needs and thorough exams.
  • An unassuming woman came in a few years ago who found us on the internet. She ended up having a great experience and purchased three pairs of our high-end eyewear and lenses. Turns out she lives in a very affluent area about 20 miles away and is part of a church group with many similarly economically-situated friends. Since that first interaction, she has recommended 21 friends (and counting) to come in and purchase their eyewear from us. Beyond her graciousness in being such an avid supporter, our staff has developed such a wonderful relationship with her (as we do with so many of our patients).
  • Patient asked me not to retire because their four generations of family have used our services.
  • I have a very sweet lady who I come in early or stay late in order to make sure that she is the only client shopping for eyewear, or even for adjustments.
  • Recently we had a patient come in who has had a lot of medical problems throughout her life and she told us that she was so impressed with the thoroughness of her exam, professionalism from the team, and selection of eyewear that she wanted to take a stack of our business cards to hand out to her friends/family/anyone who compliments her glasses. She also said her spouse (who is also a patient) has been recommending us to his cancer patients to get exams before they start chemotherapy. The biggest compliment we can get is our patients referring their loved-ones to us!
  • When a customer hugs us when they leave and say they ‘feel like family.’
  • Had a patient during the pandemic that I diagnosed a brain aneurysm in. By doing the appropriate tests, vision, color vision, pupils, optic nerve assessment and visual fields, I suspected something pressing on her optic nerve, I ordered a brain MRI and the next day she was having brain surgery to place a clip at the site of the aneurysm. The neurosurgeon told her “Your optometrist saved your life.” She came back with a great report and she is seeing better today.
  • Everybody loves us. We stand out with service from both the optometric and optical parts of the business, and we have the best inventory in the city.
  • Over and over people tell me they don’t know what they’d do without me…sales, repairs, adjustments. It seems dramatic, but they’re super appreciative of every effort.
  • We help a lot of special needs kids/families, and a recent one relayed the struggles they are going through. Conversations like that keep the important things in focus.
  • Our interactions have become more personal. We provide a concierge type service to our patients that we didn’t offer in the past. Our patients see that we only want the best for them, and they can see a difference in quality and fit.
  • You know I’m not going anywhere else!
  • The genuine appreciation we get from the majority of our patient/customers is gold! Best way to sum up past three years.

The responses to this question were anonymous, but you likely know into which camp you would have fallen. When people are tested, they tend to go one of two ways: they become harder, meaner and more selfish; or they go the other way: more generous of spirit, kinder and more forgiving of those around them. The worst of the pandemic may be behind us, but we are still collectively facing challenges to our industry and humanity. I think we can all agree that there is likely not going to be a new normal. The only thing we truly have control over is how we wake up and face each day. So when you wake up tomorrow, will you be a Womp, Womp or a Woo Hoo?



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