Handling patients who want you to adjust glasses purchased online
Educating and offering a service plan can build, not tear down, your patient relationship
A person coming into your practice asking for a glasses adjustment is a daily occurrence in many of our offices. In years past, it was commonplace to have the optician take care of the patient “on the house” as a gesture of goodwill. If he was a current patient—great; if he wasn’t—well, maybe your kind gesture just made such a positive impression on him that he might schedule his next exam with you.
While this system has seemingly worked well in the past, the landscape has changed—and is continuing to change. Gone are those simple days when nearly all patients purchased glasses from their eye doctors’ offices. Online eyewear vendors have exploded onto the scene, and the fallout includes the doctor/patient relationship.
The value of optical services
After years of devaluing the crucial and vital services of eyewear selection, verification, and adjustments, it’s no wonder that we are often faced with scenarios in which our patients feel very comfortable coming in with Internet-purchased eyewear and expecting our opticians’ services for free. When we initially encountered this scenario, the legacy policies of goodwill were applied. However, over time, many offices, including my own felt the need to develop policies that were fair to us as well as the patient.
It is time to bring the perceived value of our opticians to the forefront and highlight the benefits of buying from our offices instead of online. Our practices simply cannot be successful if services are being given away. We all know that often when something is given away, it is not valued the same as if it were purchased.
Online purchasers need our help
If you haven’t had a patient ask you to adjust frames bought online, request his PD in order to buy on the Internet, or complain that glasses from your Rx purchased online don’t work, you will soon.
The 2015 Vision Council Internet Influence Report found that 30.7 percent of recent eyewear buyers with easy access to the Internet indicated that they may possibly or probably will use the Internet to directly purchase eyewear in the future.1 With more people buying online, we will see more of them in our offices needing assistance. Internet-purchased eyewear unfortunately seems to be plagued with errors, and our patients will need us.