These days online reviews can make or break any business. More so for small businesses like local opticians, independent ODs, and optical dispensaries. Of course, a bad review is something most of us strive to avoid, but how can we shift our focus on getting more of the positive reviews to be posted by all of the satisfied patients that love the new glasses you've just dispensed to them?
Any positive review is great for your business. That being said, are you more likely to trust a positive review that was left over a year ago with no other reviews afterward or a business with a steady stream of positive reviews being posted almost daily or weekly? I'll go ahead and assume you answered the latter. Here is how your optical shop can shoot for positive reviews from every patient that walks through your door.
1) Claim Your Business
Did you know that even if you never signed up or made a page on sites like Google, Yelp, and Facebook you may still have a business page listed? These sites pull publicly available info and user-created info to make these listings. You could already have several reviews you're not even aware of posted already! These pages are listed as unclaimed and also mean you have no ability to respond or use the feedback from these reviews.
Here are step-by-step guides on how to claim your business for Yelp, Facebook, and Google. That covers the big 3 and if there are any other websites or apps specializing in reviews that are popular in your area then it never hurts to claim or make pages there too.
2) Provide The "Wow" Factor
More than likely yours is not the only optical shop in town. So what makes yours different? Hopefully, one of those things is the "Wow" factor! What is that you may ask? Well, it's when a patient leaves with their new glasses and thinks "Wow, that was an amazing experience!".
Some key factors for providing this are good communication, great selection, knowledgeable/friendly staff, setting realistic expectations, and following up after the sale. Being able to effectively communicate not only the benefits they are receiving with their new lenses but also a realistic expectation of when they will have them is crucial. Nobody wants to go home and feel like they were just another sales goal. Getting to know them during the sales process and then following up to make sure their expectations were met or exceeded is essential.
3) Have A Great Selection
A great selection doesn't just mean you've got only designer frames, you should have a wide variety of frames to fit just about any patient's needs who walks through the door. This also should apply to the lenses you offer. Name brand lenses like Varilux and Kodak Lens can bring brand name recognition many patients want. Also offering house brand digital progressive lenses and value progressive lenses is another key to being able to fit any patient's needs.
Make sure you've also got point-of-purchase materials for all your add-ons too. Brochures and demos can go a long way in helping patients understand the benefits of premium add-ons like Transitions, Crizal, or blue light protection. You'll also want to make sure you and your staff are aware of the add-ons offered by your lab that you may not have POP for. Nothing worse than turning away a sale simply because you didn't realize you could order it.
IcareLabs firmly believes in the good, better, best approach to package pricing for your optical. This typically should cover you for about 90% of patients that walk through your door. Knowing the ins and outs of what your lab offers though can help you close the deal for more particular patients.
We also provide almost all of the POP we offer at no charge or at cost so that you can make sure you have all the tools you need to help your patients understand the benefits these add-ons provide.
4) Staff Training
There are numerous options available to eye care professionals to help keep themselves and their staff up to date on all of the latest in an ever-changing industry. Essilor provides their ECPU which is a great tool for anyone in the optical field from just starting out to seasoned pros. Many sales reps for frame vendors and lens manufacturers are also great at helping to understand the benefits of the products they sell.
Here at IcareLabs, we offer regular updates on our blog (which you're reading right now so thanks!) along with the largest online database of ECP tools and digital resources available to view and download for free at our Resource Center. We also have a dedicated team of on-site customer service agents here to assist you with any needs or concerns.
I also challenge you to seek out new avenues you may not have considered like connecting with relevant optical groups on LinkedIn or Facebook. Use your time on your commute to and from work to listen to some of the amazing optometry podcast's put out weekly by Defocus Media. Take a trip to the next VisionExpo or Transitions Academy.
Search out for new and interesting ways to keep your passion for recreating clear vision that got you into the industry alive! This will directly translate to something each patient sees when they frequent your establishment.
5) FOLLOW UP AFTER THE SALE!
Do you know the difference between making a sale and turning someone into a loyal customer is? It's as simple as showing them they ARE NOT just another sale. Following up after the sale is the key to making sure each patient is happy with their new glasses. It will also help you get ahead of any possible negative reviews by getting ahead of whatever issue your patient is experiencing.
Follow-ups can be done in many ways. You can call the day or within the week after their glasses have been dispensed to check in on them. At the one month mark, feel free to give them a call to check in again. Alternatively, if you've been collecting your customers' emails to help keep track of your 2020 optical sales then you should send a 1 to 1 personalized email that reiterates you're still there for them if they have any needs or concerns.
If you do choose the email route, you can also include a quick survey about their experience to help better train you or your staff if needed and see what your business is doing right.
6) Ask For A Review
You may be surprised to hear this, but getting a positive review for your business is really as simple as asking for it! The reason it's this far down on the list though is that we not only want to make sure your patient is extremely satisfied with their new glasses, we also want them to know that your business cares about their vision needs.
Once you've verified they are a satisfied customer, go ahead and ask them to please leave a review on the outlet of their choice. This can be done the day their glasses are dispensed or on any of the subsequent follow-ups you or your staff make. Don't forget to include links to your social media and Google accounts in your emails to make it easier for reviews to be left. This should be part of your 2020 optical marketing goals too.
Here is the verbiage I recommend using that has worked well for myself over many years:
"If you have anything to share about your experience with us, please take 2 minutes to leave an online review which is greatly appreciated."
Simple, short, and to the point without leading the patient towards a positive or a negative review. Avoid asking directly for a positive review as it can come off as desperate to some customers and can lead them to think the online reviews they may have read were achieved this way.
For those same reasons, also avoid offering any type of discount or other incentives for leaving a positive review. This can actually be counter-productive to quality reviews for your business as you'll most likely receive very bland reviews like "They're great" or "Good glasses" which tend to come off as not genuine to most potential customers.
For reviews left on your social media pages, don't forget to respond to each one individually with how much you appreciate their business and them taking time out of their day to leave a review. This serves the dual purpose of personally thanking them and showing other potential customers that your business cares.
7) Email Marketing Or Direct Mailers
By now your patient has hopefully left a great review on top of walking away as a satisfied customer. Your job isn't done yet! You'll also want to stay at the forefront of their minds so when they think of glasses, they think of you.
Email marketing or sending direct mailers is a great way to keep in touch with your clientele without tons of direct effort. You can send out monthly deals geared towards particular needs for the seasons such as polarized lenses for spring and summer. You should also be keeping track of patients using vision plans and gear special emails or mailers towards getting them back into your shop before December when patients typically scramble to use their benefits before the year is over.
Don't forget to post these deals on your social media accounts too. Make sure to use a nice simple graphic that is shareable with your branding so they can share it with their friends and family as well.
8) Ask For Referrals
This may be last on the list, but it's something you can do at any time once you've verified they are happy with their new eyewear. Word-of-mouth business is always the best advertising any business can receive. This can be achieved in several ways.
Your business cards can have a referral offer on the back, you can include promo codes in your emails, or just tell your customers to have their referral mention them by name. As I said earlier, incentivizing your reviews is not a good idea, however, giving a reward for referral business can work out in everyone's favor.
You can do 10% off for both parties, a free pair of frames, a flat discount of $50, etc. The possibilities are nearly endless with what you can offer so feel free to experiment to find what draws in the most new business. Just make sure you have a way that is easy for you to track your referral business. Don't forget to thank your patients who sent the new customer to you!
By following these 8 best practices, you will ensure your optical dispensary has a plethora of real, honest, and positive reviews that others will be able to use when deciding on where to get their next pair of glasses at. Whether your a small store with only a few employees or a local chain with several locations to choose from, any optical business can implement these strategies to not only increase your patient satisfaction but also help drive up your optical sales as well.