Insights From Our Editors

Do Most of Your Patients Seek a One-Stop Eyewear Shopping Experience?

Your patients may be looking for more of a one-stop-shopping experience than you think, according to findings from Jobson Optical Research’s 2013 Eyewear and Eyecare Consumer Patterns Insight Survey. For most consumers, buying eyeglasses is a one-stop deal. Two-thirds of consumers said they purchased eyeglasses at the same location or retailer where they first had their eyes examined. Sixty-six percent said they purchased eyeglasses from the first retailer they walked into when looking for eyeglasses. The majority (72 percent) selected eyeglasses in less than one hour.

Over 60 percent of your patients will search online about eyeglasses before coming into your office. You need to know what they are reading. A Google search of “tips for buying eyewear” returned some interesting information that your patients are reading. Here are the top three web sites presented in the order in which they appeared for my search.

At the top of the list was the Yahoo Voices web site which gave practical information to the reader explaining the prescription, lenses, lens options, frames and care of glasses. I found it to be a pretty good web site.

Next up was the Consumer Reports web site which told patients …
1. Costco is the best place to shop to make sure that you “…can you buy a good pair of glasses without leaving yourself seeing double over the cost.”
2. Costco “… topped our list of eyeglass retailers for overall satisfaction in Consumer Reports’ 2012 survey of nearly 19,500 readers.”
3. “LensCrafters was, by far, the fastest place to get new specs–almost half our readers who shopped there had their glasses the same or next day. But it also was among the most expensive.”
4. “The readers who responded to our survey spent a median of $244 out-of-pocket on their last pair of prescription specs.”
5. “… if you don’t mind paying more, or most of your purchase is covered by insurance, go for independent local optical shops or a private doctor’s office, which got high scores for satisfaction from our readers and top marks for merchandise quality and customer service.”
6. “Start by visiting an eyeglass web site such as Eyeglasses.com and LensesRx.com and reading the how-to information.”

The All About Vision web site came next with the home page giving answers to frequently asked questions about eyeglasses. Here is a sampling of five of the 15 questions asked and answered on this web site:
1. Why should I bother to go to the eye doctor when I can simply pick up an inexpensive pair of eyeglasses at the store?
2. What’s the secret to getting eyeglasses that look great on me?
3. I find most eyeglasses to be too small for my head. Do you know of any brands that carry larger frames?
4. How do I choose glasses that my child will actually wear, without breaking the bank?
5. How can I prolong the life of my eyeglasses?

As you can see, some of the information is really good and some of it is painful to read. We have two choices: we can be reactive by ignoring what our patients are doing and just handle questions when patients ask, or we can be proactive by helping patients navigate through the internet minefield. Let’s be proactive.

Action Plan for the Week.
1. Education is the key. Patients think a lens is a lens. Make sure staff and doctors understand the difference between frames, as well as the difference between lenses, and can explain in very simple terms why the frames and lenses being sold in your practice are an excellent value. Script this out so the messaging in your office is consistent.

2. Make your web site the place to go for vision care. Start by reviewing the information in the top three web sites listed above to make sure you have better answers on your web site or links to “safe” web sites.

3. Train your patients to go to your web site for information about vision and vision care. Have the doctor in the exam room send patients to the practice web site for more information about the patient’s diagnosis or treatment plan. An easy way to do this is to push the link to the information in your practice web site to the patient’s e-mail. Opticians should be doing the same thing.

As we move deeper into the digital age, patients are turning more and more to the internet for answers. We can take charge and train patients that the practice web site is the best first place to go on the internet for questions about vision and vision care.

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