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Respect patients' trust during eyewear selection


Build a rapport with patients and understand they are placing trust in staffers when choosing new glasses. Tami Hagemeyer, ABOC, FNAO, offers suggestions to maximize patients' satisfaction with the process.

Have you shopped lately? Gone to the mall and tried something on? Maybe the color is not perfect for you, or the style isn’t flattering.

If you are shopping alone, there is only one choice for another opinion: the salesperson. We are forced to rely on her honesty, but what if she works on sales commission? If she thinks of this sale as only financial, her response will be, “The style and color are perfect for you, and it looks great!”  Feeling confident, you make the purchase and take it home-after all, this new outfit “looks great.”

Consequences if the outfit doesn’t look great are likely minor, and you’ll wear it only once.

Previously from Ms. Hagemeyer: Building trust with patients builds the practice

Optical frames, unlike clothing, are almost always a constant. Frames are likely on our patient’s face from morning until night.

Eyewear influences how first impressions are formed and consequently how a patient’s personality and individuality is perceived. In addition, selection of the perfect frame can raise our patient’s self-confidence.

Frame selection

When we assist our patients in frame selection, we have a responsibility to assess their personality-it will relate to the style of ophthalmic frame chosen. That being said, personality should not dictate the only direction of frame choice. After all, there are thousands of frame styles to choose from. Our patients rely on our honesty and integrity to assist in sorting their perfect style from those that may not be the best choice.

Casual communication with patients during frame selection will improve their perception of the entire process. It becomes a catalyst for comfort and encourages a relaxing exchange. Our patients feel no pressure to make a purchase; instead, they may enjoy the process.

Frame selection should never feel like a chore. Time constraints compromise the atmosphere of frame selection. It is key to never rush. A rushed decision may evolve into a mistake, then the possibility of an unfortunate remake of the complete job, and at the end we have an unhappy patient who isn’t pleased with our service and may communicate that to family and friends.

Related: Glasses and contact lenses: Have they become a commodity?

When a patient thinks frame selection is an inconvenience or speaks of frame selection as “the worst part of the appointment,” think of her attitude as a challenge, not a burden. Avoid allowing her emotion to influence how you conduct yourself during frame selection.

It can be difficult to remain upbeat when the person you are trying to help doesn’t care or is difficult to please. When helping a patient with a negative attitude, it can be a struggle to remain optimistic. If it becomes too stressful, ask a team member to take over if only for a few minutes. A break can be healthy and encourage a few minutes to regain a fresh and optimistic perspective.


Casual conversation during frame selection can be a catalyst for comfort and will encourage a friend-like atmosphere. It’s important to structure the exchange around the patient’s needs and interests, not your own.

The patient’s prescription is a major consideration in frame selection. Ensure the patient understands the aesthetic as well as visual benefits.

Take chances with frame style. Don’t be afraid to show distinctive or luxury frame styles. Have fun. Remember, if you are having fun, your patient is having fun. Make frame selection memorable instead of a chore.

Selecting lenses

Frame selection is just the beginning. Once the frame choice has been made, we have the responsibility to help our patient choose a lens that will provide the best visual acuity and look great in the optical frame.

Sometimes, the lens choice is easy. If a mild or low prescription is presented, the choice is usually a standard lens and will be comfortable and accommodate a low prescription.  

Related: 5 steps to maximize your optical profit

When a complicated or higher prescription is prescribed, the lens choice becomes more detailed. The prescription dictates the style of lenses that will provide the patient with optimum visual acuity and look pleasing in the frame choice.

It’s important to educate patients about spectacle lenses. Some lenses may create spectacle blur if used with a non-compatible prescription. Our knowledge and education of specific lenses and the prescriptions that warrant their use will allow us to make the best recommendation to patients.

Lens add-ons or extras are further consideration when marketing eyewear. Examples include photochromic lenses and anti-glare coatings. Patients rely on staff expertise to help them make an informed decision.

Inspired vs. manipulated optical sales

Optical sales can be inspired or manipulated.

Inspired sales encourage patients to be loyal-patients will understand the benefits of recommendations for their visual acuity. Staff are inspired to sell specific lenses, frames, or add-ons because we have an appreciation for patient needs and are knowledgeable about the products they sell.

A manipulated sale is a pressured sale. These include buy-one, get-one free or discounted for a limited time. Don’t misunderstand-frame or lens special deals are great, they will boost sales. However, if such tactics become a habitual method of sales, they gain potential to create a high-pressure atmosphere in which no one is comfortable.   

Similar to manipulated sales, competition or sales quotas in the workplace can often separate the team. Competition is an effective tool used to increase sales. However, the downside is when it becomes obvious to patients. Patients may have a sensation of being in the middle or being upsold to make a goal. When this happens, it becomes detrimental to the practice’s overall impression.

Eyewear sales are for experts with knowledge, drive, and a passion for providing the most innovative and up-to-date products that will ensure patients’ optimum visual acuity.

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