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John Marvin

How Easy Is It to Do Business with Your Store or Practice? Here’s What You Need to Think About

In everything we do, we have to emphasize convenience.

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AS AN ORGANIZATION, we do a lot of consumer research to better understand our customers. We also study the buying decisions and preferences of people when they decide where they’ll go for eyecare and eyewear.

We have observed a significant growth in the demand for convenience. This is particularly true among consumers 25 to 49 years of age.

Convenience drives many, if not most, of our purchase decisions. In a recent study of 1,000 consumers who wear prescription eyewear the No. 1 factor (over 90 percent) in where they chose to have eye exams was convenience. In other words, when looking for a new eye doctor, it is unlikely that people will drive past two or three other ODs to select you. But it goes further than location; it’s the convenience of the experience itself — the ease with which people engage with you and your practice. This is where it gets interesting. How do you make your experience more convenient? There is a marketing concept called “friction.” Simply put, friction is anything that makes a consumer’s experience inconvenient.

Think about how someone interacts with your practice. How easy is it to schedule an appointment? Do you even require appointments? How complicated is it for people to give you the information you need? Do you see patients on time? Is it easy to purchase eyewear from your optical? Do you provide an online optical where they can purchase eyewear from you? Do you offer home delivery of eyewear or do you make people come back? As I write this, I have both a new pair of glasses and a year’s supply of contacts waiting to be picked up. I was notified over a week ago. The reason I don’t have them is that it’s inconvenient for me to go back to the office. I would love this office to give me the option of having them delivered to my office or home.

The demands of the consumer are requiring our industry to think differently about how we provide care and sell products. In everything we do, we have to emphasize convenience. The patient is at the center of what we do, the way we make decisions, the hours we keep and the services we offer. We must look to remove friction at every point in the experience.

As controversial as online refractions are, they are appealing because of convenience. Appointments are made during hours convenient for the doctor and staff. Many offices are now closing on Saturdays. Why? Because it is more convenient for the owner. There could be a high price to pay for this convenience. People won’t skip their eye exam or not purchase eyewear because you are closed. They will simply choose someone more convenient

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Take the time to study your patient experience and come up with ways to make it more convenient for the patient, even if it is inconvenient for you or your staff. Friction is an expense that doesn’t need to be incurred for a quality, caring experience.

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 practiceprinciples.net blog. You can email him at [email protected]

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