There is an age old saying that ‘The customer is always right.’ However, in today’s retail environment, it is less about the right or wrong, and more about ensuring that the customer is happy and rewarded because this can encourage loyalty.
Loyalty, or retention as it is also referred to as, is important to all businesses and there are a wide range of initiatives, large and small, that can be established to help enhance customer satisfaction. OT spoke to two different practices to find out what works for them and why.
For High Street multiple David Clulow, customer satisfaction is all about ensuring its clients are supported throughout their eye care journey and beyond. Its Quality Promise initiative was established to ensure just that, head of optical operations at the group, David Hartley, told OT.
“Our Quality Promise means we vow to keep customers’ eyewear in perfect condition, all year-round. We deliver aftercare for life, so whatever the matter, from optical tests to an extra pair of glasses, we’re here,” he explained.
“Our Quality Promise means we vow to keep customers’ eyewear in perfect condition, all year-round”
David Clulow also has processes in place to ensure that it gathers and responds to customer feedback throughout their journey in-store. This includes customer experience surveys that are sent to clients via email which cover the clinical experience in the testing room, as well as the dispensing experience that follows.
Sharing insight into what the surveys cover, Mr Hartley said that customers are asked to rate the opticians on each step in their journey in practice. This, alongside Google reviews and social media, as well as retention rates, keeps the business informed about how well it is doing at ensuring the customer is satisfied.
By collecting and analysing this data, David Clulow can ensure that its customers remain satisfied. “By being customer focused, we can not only share our successes, but make sure we are diligent in meeting our customers’ high expectations for service and quality, and ensuring that when we don’t exceed those expectations, we adapt accordingly,” Mr Hartley said.
A weekly customer experience survey review and feedback process also ensures that the business recognises and rewards employees accordingly.
A promise pledge
For Mr Hartley, the most effective tool in David Clulow’s armoury for ensuring customer satisfaction is its Quality Promise, which it launched in 2015. This provides customers with free aftercare on their spectacles for one year, a 30-day exchange guarantee and breakage protection.
“We know accidents can happen,” Mr Hartley said.
David Clulow’s aftercare offering includes free spring cleans and adjustments, and was specifically introduced as a result of customer feedback. “Our customer insight indicates that aftercare is really important to customer loyalty and their likelihood to recommend us,” Mr Hartley revealed.
When it comes to future initiatives, Mr Harley confirmed that the business is “constantly” listening to customer feedback. “This is always the starting point for discussions around new initiatives,” he said, adding it is currently focusing on developing its Contacts by Mail scheme, which will enable customers to manage their accounts digitally.
Lets talk about loyalty
Responding to an analysis of the business, six years ago Welsh-based independent, Barnet Pepper Opticians, established a loyalty plan for its customers to join.
Describing it as a “relatively straightforward” scheme, optometrist at Barnet Pepper Opticians, Iwan Parry, explained that patients pay a monthly fee of £8.50 for a minimum of two years and when they visit the practice, their eye care is “taken care of.”
Customers who sign up to the scheme will receive a standard eye examination, a 3D optical coherence tomography (OCT) scan, an Optomap image and a full visual fields assessment. It also includes 30% off their spectacles, if they require them.
As an independent based in a small town, Barnet Pepper Opticians has a reputation for providing high-quality healthcare for its patients, Mr Parry said. However, he admitted that in the past, patients have tended to take their prescription elsewhere to look for cheaper glasses. “The loyalty plan and its associated 30% off spectacles was specifically developed as a way of encouraging patients to be loyal and look for their spectacles with us,” the optometrist explained.
“The monthly fee works this way too – it creates loyalty as it makes accessing their eye care convenient for them as when their recall comes around they don’t have to worry about the associated cost,” he added.
Since its introduction, Barnet Pepper’s loyalty plan has gradually been building momentum, Mr Parry confirmed, with feedback being positive. “It has been great from a loyalty point of view and we have found that customers have been more likely to return and to purchase their spectacles with us,” he said.
“Generally, people like not to have to worry about their eye care and find comfort in knowing that it’s covered”
While Mr Parry acknowledges that the public’s initial perception of payment plans can be negative, the independent has found the scheme to be well received, with 638 patients signed up. “When the plan is explained fully, they see the benefits and react positively,” he said.
“Generally, people like not to have to worry about their eye care and find comfort in knowing that it’s covered,” he emphasised.
From a clinical viewpoint, Mr Parry said that the plan also means that optometrists can perform scans in order to reassure patients, while patients who have had scans are less likely to return with small concerns as they know they have received a very thorough test.