A customer is swept away by a persuasive salesperson, then returns
to cancel the order. How can the boutique retain the sale?
This article originally appeared in the July-August 2015 edition of INVISION.
Clark Keating, a graduate teaching assistant in Madison, WI, arrived home after visiting the well-regarded optical boutique Discover Optics. His girlfriend Emily was on the couch reading, and looked up to ask him if he got his old glasses repaired.
“No, they told me they were too old and broken,” Clark replied.
“What are you going to do? You need them at night when you take your contacts out,” Emily said.
“Oh, I bought a new pair. They called my doctor in Milwaukee and had my prescription faxed,” Clark said. “They’re really good, they’re made out of titanium so they’ll last longer than the old plastic ones.”
“Isn’t that place expensive? How much were they?”
“Umm, a lot,” Clark confessed, fishing around in his coat pocket for the receipt. “$830.”
“No, no, no.” Emily left the couch and reached for the receipt. “You have to return them. $830? That’s basically rent, Clark! You only wear them at night. Why are they so much?” Emily was panicking as she saw on the receipt that Clark had paid in full with a credit card.
“The lady explained how these are going to be like digital high-def TV, and I paid extra so they’ll be thinner,” Clark said.
“We can return them and spend that money on an actual high-def TV,” Emily said. “They must be amazing for that much money.”
“They look great. And the lenses are anti-glare and anti-scratch, and the lady said I should wear glasses more because it’s not healthy to wear contacts all the time,” Clark said.
“I’m pretty sure you can get that anti-glare stuff even if you buy glasses on the Internet, Clark,” said Emily. She opened her laptop and started searching.
Emily’s questions were beginning to make Clark feel as though he had been swindled.
The next morning Meredith, lead optician at Discover Optics, was there when Clark walked in.
“Welcome to Discover Optics, my name is Meredith,” and she smiled warmly. “How can I help you?”
All the frustration and confusion Clark had felt last night during his girlfriend’s interrogation welled up inside him. “I need to cancel the glasses I bought yesterday,” he said.
Meredith could see Clark was dead set in his mission, but she knew from experience that when a customer wanted to cancel an order, she could often save the sale by solving the root of the problem. She got his name and pulled the tray, and saw that the job had yet to make it to the lab. Meredith also noted that the optician who made the sale wouldn’t be arriving to work for another hour.
“These are beautiful frames, Mr. Keating,” gushed Meredith. “May I ask why you’re cancelling?”
“I just don’t want them anymore,” said Clark, hiding his embarrassment well. “After I left here, I went home and found a similar pair online for less than $100, so it doesn’t make sense to buy these.”
Meredith was tired of losing sales to online retailers. A few weeks ago, she had ordered a pair of single vision glasses for $40 to use as a tangible comparison of quality to customers. She pulled them out now and began explaining the difference in quality of the hinges, then the benefits of high index lenses for a prescription as myopic as Clark’s.
Clark glazed over, rudderless in a sea of data. As Meredith was getting into the importance of precise pupillary measurements, he interrupted her. “I have somewhere I need to be. Please cancel my order. This is too complicated — they’re just glasses. I only wear them a few hours a week.”
Both Meredith and Clark felt frustrated and defeated, and both asked themselves, “What do I do now?”
THE BIG QUESTIONS
1. What can the selling optician do differently in the future to mitigate buyer’s remorse?
2. Is there anything the boutique can do to reassure the customer between the sale and the dispense?
3. What are some tools the dispensing optician can use to turn the situation around and make the customer a star referral source?
REAL DEAL RESPONSES
DR. G.R. M.
LAKE CHARLES, LA
DR. KENNETH S.
FORT MITCHELL, KY
WESTERN SPRINGS, IL
DR. JAMES J.