Ophthalmic Lenses

Doctor’s Choice Part I: Cultivating Patients for Life

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This is the first in a three-part series highlighting how practices are adapting to key challenges posed by the market challenges ODs face, including the key professional relationships that are helping practice owners adapt and win.

By Shazeen Ali, OD

Nov. 11, 2020

Cultivating patients who return to your practice year after year, referring friends and family, is a key to long-term success. As my practice has weathered the severe disruption that COVID-19 caused, I have noticed more than ever the difference quality products and strong professional partnerships make in helping to retain patients. With the many stresses in our patients’ lives during this time, they know they can continue depending on us for the health of their eyes and eyewear that provides visual superiority and comfort.

One of the professional partnerships making such a difference to our ability to deliver such products, and a high level of service to our patients, is Essilor Experts™. Essilor Experts was developed to give eyecare professionals an edge in the marketplace with lens brands that ensure patients return, year after year. Participating practices enjoy a suite of benefits including exclusive advertising, training and technology which attract and engage patients, and optimize business results.

Easy Choice
Signing up for Essilor Experts was a no-brainer. It didn’t require a fee or time commitments. In fact, the only commitment required from a practice owner is that the majority of the lenses they dispense come from Essilor and participating labs. For ECPs like me who know and trust Essilor lens brands, this is an easy decision – and one I am glad I made as the program has provided tremendous support throughout the worldwide pandemic.

More Powerful Patient-Practice Touch Points
One of the most powerful aspects of Essilor Experts is its ability to keep us in touch with our patients and community. With updates to protocols and safety measures, it has become clear that we need a strong communication pipeline between our office and our patients.

Our practice’s online presence has soared thanks to Essilor Experts advertising that drives patients to our practice through the Essilor Experts’ doctor locator. After viewing advertising on primetime TV, social media and other frequently viewed web sites like Pandora, consumers are guided to input their zip code. Our practice appears in the listing, driving traffic to our practice web site, and, ultimately, our exam chairs. We are proactively reaching our patients so they can find the information about our practice they need.

5 Actions to Create Patients for Life


Patient Touch Points: Market and advertise on popular social media and consumer web sites where your patients spend significant time. Come to them rather than waiting for them to come to you.

Train Staff to Deliver Topnotch Service: The right professional partnerships provide not just great products, but the support you need to train staff. A well-prepared staff can educate patients about the value of the products you have prescribed, ensuring patients are connected to products that precisely serve their needs.

Create Product Packages that Meet Patient Needs. Use your support from professional partners to create bundled lens packages that result in patients who have their total lifestyle needs addressed in the eyewear you prescribe.

Make It Easy for Patients to See You. Technology that facilitates online appointment booking is a way to ensure the patient can reach you for an appointment whenever they happen to think of it.

Stay Ahead of the Competition. Professional partnerships that bring your practice together with the most cutting-edge and advanced eyewear technology gives you a boost over competitors. Your patients will return to an office that they know has the latest in eyewear innovation.

 Easing Patients’ Way To Your Exam Chair
Patients under stress from the pandemic, with so many responsibilities for work and family, require flexibility in how they reach us. Patients today demand the ability to make an appointment whenever they like without having to call into an office to speak with a receptionist. Essilor Experts has connected our practice with its SmartBook technology, which gives patients access to an online booking tool on our web site. They can browse our office schedule at their leisure and click to request an appointment. As much as 40 percent of our appointment bookings are now made online.

Delivering Products, Services and Experience to Drive Patient Loyalty
We frequently receive requests from patients for Essilor products they learned about through marketing from Essilor Experts. For example, we have had many patients visit our office expressing interest in Eyezen lenses with technology that helps protect eyes from harmful blue light. Patients arrive primed to try this innovative lens. They understand the benefits from the start, simplifying our job of educating on the advantages of purchasing the Essilor lens brands we choose to dispense.

Additionally, Essilor’s Next GEN offer makes it easy for patients to get a second pair of glasses at a great price, helping us create loyal patients. This helps us ensure our patients get eyewear with all of the benefits they need to protect their eyes and enjoy their lives to the fullest.

Creating an Office Experience Worthy of Return Visits and Referrals
New office protocols means that our staff needs more training than ever before. It’s easy with so many changes to forget the fundamentals of the products we offer. The training support we get from Essilor Experts in-office training makes it easy to teach everyone how to speak to patients about the eyewear I choose to prescribe.

We have all of our employees–not just our opticians–learn about how to talk to patients in terms of benefits rather than technical features. We want all staff members to speak the same language in how they converse with patients about the eyewear we sell. Instead of telling patients about technical aspects of the lens material, we talk about how a lens is the “thinnest and lightest lens for your prescription.” When talking about progressive lenses, we have learned to focus on the positive, telling patients that their new progressive lenses offer “the most natural viewing you can get out of a lens whether looking far away or up close.”

Empowering Patients to Leave Your Office with the Very Best
Lifestyle needs have increased during the pandemic. This means patients now often need blue light protection in addition to their progressive glasses. Essilor Experts has helped us create lens bundles that answer multiple patient needs making for a better patient experience and creating patients for life.

Giving our patients access to the eyewear we feel will most benefit them, while boosting optical sales, has gotten simpler. The reps we consult with through Essilor Experts give us ideas for the lens bundles that our patients will most appreciate. For instance, I often prescribe Varilux® X Series™ design lenses with Crizal Sapphire® 360° UV, and then will add in Transitions to create a bundled package that gives the patient all they need for superior vision.

Essilor’s Next GEN Offer has been a boon to multiple-pair sales in our practice. After making this offer available to our patients, our second-pair sales jumped to 22 percent, meaning 22 percent of purchases were multiple-eyewear purchases. The Next GEN offer greatly benefited patients. Many were able to finally get a pair of sunglasses with progressive lenses. The best part is many of those patients now update both their clear lenses and their sunwear every time their prescription changes.

Pipeline to Innovation and Technology: Giving Patients the Most Advanced Care
When the world becomes more difficult, patients want every product they purchase, including eyewear, to provide relief. They want products that solve problems effectively, easily and with comfort.

The forward-thinking lens technology and innovation of tools like SmartBook help our practice keep pace with consumer expectations. I choose Essilor because they are following how society and technology trends are going, and tailoring lens offerings and practice tools that drive patient satisfaction. Essilor Experts ensures we have easy access to all of these things, so both our patients and practice benefit. It’s no wonder our patients so often return to our office! They know we can provide them with exactly what they need to live their best lives, however trying the circumstances.

Shazeen Ali, OD, is a partner with Ranch Road Vision Source in Austin, Texas. To contact her: ranchroadvs@gmail.com

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