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Hello, to hello again: managing director and co-founder of Kirk & Kirk, Jason Kirk, offers advice on the customer journey.

Attracting a new customer to your practice can be hard, but retaining them is even harder. Loyal patients are so much more valuable than one-offs. Not only do they spend more, but they are ambassadors, encouraging others to visit you too.

Awareness matters

The customer journey starts before a person walks into your practice, so unless you are able to compete with the advertising of multiples, you need to seek other means of getting noticed locally.

Facebook and Instagram accounts are two ways to connect with people. Having a presence of these channels is essential for winning clients--this could be invaluable for developing new business.

Into practice

Once a new client is convinced that your practice looks modern and you have an exciting selection of frames, they will make an appointment. However, it does not stop there. In today's world, no one 'waits,' so the customer journey needs to be seamless. The idea of a waiting area is an anathema to most people under the age of 40.

In reality, you only need two people to handle a patient--the optometrist to perform the eye test, and the DO to dispense, or what most people would call 'sell.'

The journey

Start the visit by showing an interest in your customer. Find out what they do, where they go and what their relationship with glasses is like. Assure them that, while they are having their eyes tested, you will select frames that meet their requirements. This adds an element of continuity, and when they return from the eye test, let them enjoy some interesting eyewear.

After a customer leaves, keep lines of communication open via email and text. This way of communicating is not considered intrusive and will be welcomed more than a phone call.

Retaining them

Ask every customer for their email and add them to your mailing list. A quarterly newsletter is a great way for an opticians to keep their practice name in the consciousness of a customer and to remind them that you are their opticians.

With a bit of coaxing, they will follow the practice on Facebook and Instagram, and may even post a picture wearing their new glasses. As a result, you will be in 'contact' with them, so when the time comes for a new eye test, they do not think twice about where to go.

Experience is everything and your customer needs to enjoy their interaction with the practice long before they first visit--and long after they leave.

Three steps to success

* Give the practice a profile on social media

* Get rid of the reception area

* Ask every client for their email address.

Your questions

Do you have a topic that you would like 'How do I' advice on? Contact OT newsdesk@ optometry.co.uk

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Title Annotation:HOW DO I ...
Author:Kirk, Jason
Publication:Optometry Today
Date:Feb 1, 2017
Words:461
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