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John Marvin

Building Patient Loyalty for Your Eyecare Business

Part two in a two-part series on the findings of some post-pandemic consumer focus groups and their eyecare and eyewear priorities.




“There is a big difference between a satisfied customer and a loyal customer.” – Shep Hyken

IN THE LAST ISSUE, I wrote about what our company learned from a series of focus groups conducted with prospective patients (customers) earlier this year.

In this second part of the series, I am addressing creating customer loyalty. As the quote at the top of this column states, there is a big difference between a satisfied customer and a loyal one. Customer satisfaction is transactional, while customer loyalty requires a relationship.

Loyal customers form the foundation of a successful eyecare practice. Their commitment to the practice is long-term; the latest advertising from your competitor does not persuade them. A loyal customer has an emotional connection with you, your team, and your business. Our research discovered the following in establishing customer loyalty:

Exceptional Service Quality

The foundation of customer loyalty is consistently providing service quality. In optical, this translates to delivering accurate eye exams, precise prescriptions, and quality eyewear in a personal manner. You will understand what your customer considers quality by listening.


Knowledge, Expertise and Trust

Knowledge is different from experience. Too often, we hire based on experience. We assume experience translates to knowledge — it doesn’t.

Just because someone has worked in the profession for several years doesn’t mean they are knowledgeable; maybe they were never trained. To build a loyal customer base, use a structured training program so you are confident that staff are knowledgeable, even if they’re not experienced.

Effective Communication

Open and clear communication is essential in establishing customer loyalty. Knowledge enables team members to explain eyewear features and how they benefit customers. Answering customers’ questions builds trust. Keeping customers informed and engaged ensures they feel valued.

Post-Purchase Engagement

The customer relationship doesn’t end at purchase. Regular follow-ups, exam reminders, and proactive outreach demonstrate your commitment to their eye health. Something as simple as sending birthday wishes lets them know they are a relationship important to the practice.

Embrace Innovation and Technology

Following the pandemic, consumers are more inclined to prefer businesses that use technology to create convenience. You can build loyalty by offering different ways to access your practice. Text messages, patient portals for 24/7 access to records and information, and online appointment scheduling are examples. Offering both in-office and online optical purchases will also build loyalty.

The Greek philosopher Heraclitus said, “The only constant is change.” Some would prefer that were not true, but chances are, it’s not your competitors. Building a successful practice over the long term requires more than satisfied customers; you need connection, relationships, and loyalty.


John D. Marvin has more than 25 years of experience in the ophthalmic and optometric practice industry. He is the president of Texas State Optical and writes about marketing, management and education at the blog. You can email him at


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