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Getting the handover right: Part 1

By James Gibbins
It is easy for dispensers to forget how important the handover of a new pair of spectacles is. JAMES GIBBINS explains how to make sure you leave a lasting, positive impression on a customer.

The work of optical dispensers is primarily about the spectacles. The training for dispensers goes into great detail regarding spectacle frames, spectacle lenses and the various measurements that are required to enable the spectacles to function at their best.

Dispensers analyse the written prescription, recommend appropriate frames and lens designs, adjust them on the client for a comfortable fit, take accurate facial and frame measurements, quality check the spectacles thoroughly against the relevant standards before releasing them, and can troubleshoot if the client returns with an underperforming pair.

All of these tasks are crucially important for spectacles to reach optimum function, and require the dispenser to have a strong understanding of lens and light theory, a good knowledge of spectacle frames, strong practical skills, and high attention to detail.

However, in the day to day work of the busy optical practice, there is one regular task that is often undervalued, rushed, and unrecognised for the role it can play in a successful dispense – the handover.

Knowing your customer

"As this customer approaches their handover it is quite possible they may already be beset by doubt and concern before they have even entered the door."

Sometimes referred to as ‘the collection’, or ‘the pick-up’, the handover is that critical exchange when the client returns to the practice to receive the ordered, and often much anticipated, new pair of spectacles.

This task may be a viewed by some as a simple retail exchange; product is received, and any remaining payment is finalised. But this approach minimises what is actually a significant moment in the whole dispensing process.

It is an interaction between a dispenser and a customer that can enhance the overall service. Alternatively, it could also be an interaction that feels like an anti-climax, or more seriously could even undermine the success of the dispensed spectacle.

We need to put ourselves in the shoes and mindset of our customer for a moment. The customer may have any range of feelings and expectations running through their mind as they prepare to receive their new spectacles.

Let’s assume for a moment the customer is emmetropic, an early presbyope, and they are coming in to pick up their first pair of spectacles fitted with progressive lenses. The mindset of this person may not be all that positive as they enter the practice for the handover.

Firstly, they know their eyes are not what they used to be. Recently, and increasingly, they have noticed it has become harder for them to see clearly up close, particularly for smaller fonts and in the evenings.

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They mostly know and understand that this is a natural aging process and not something to be overly worried about, but it can still be stressful. It is another reminder that they are growing older, are no longer a youthful 20-something, and that the aging process will continue to a final conclusion somewhere down the track.

Managing expectations

Now this may seem a little dramatic, but I’m certain these thoughts are consciously or subconsciously playing on the minds of many of our customers as they come to accept their presbyopia.

Secondly, when the spectacles were first dispensed they were highly recommended to consider some ‘fancy’ lenses known as progressives, possibly referred to as multifocals.

After some brief explanations, that may or may not have made sense to them, they committed to trying these lenses. When they returned home and shared their eye test and dispensing experience with friends and family, they included the fact that they would be trying these new fancy lenses.

Without doubt, they have come across at least one outspoken person who was at pains to advise them that they had themselves tried these lenses and found them to be absolutely hopeless, and that the lenses had been the cause of all sorts of havoc in their lives. This person might have warned them of nausea and dizzy spells, difficulty walking or even near accidents when driving. The power of negative word of mouth should never be underestimated.

And thirdly, the customer has quite likely been surviving their presbyopia up to this point by using some relatively cheap ready-mades, and the final price tag for these new spectacles has probably well exceeded what they may have imagined they would end up paying.

Therefore, as this customer approaches their handover it is quite possible they may already be beset by doubt and concern before they have even entered the door. That means the dispenser must be all the more ready to ensure that this exchange runs as smoothly and professionally as possible, to enable the customer to have the most positive start to a lifetime of successful progressive lens usage.

In part two, we will look at how the dispenser can ensure this happens.


More reading:

Getting the handover right: Part 2


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