The new model does away with traditional waiting areas and reception desks and replaces them with customer lounges and increased patient interaction through tablet-based technology “for a more friendly and informal experience.”
Having been successfully piloted in five branches of the High Street multiple since 2013, Specsavers has announced that the model will be rolled out in more than 160 stores across the UK and Ireland by the end of the year, with it expected to be implemented globally over the next few years, a representative for the multiple told OT.
Established as a result of a ‘substantial research and development effort’ by Specsavers, the idea behind its new digital customer experience is to create a more flexible patient journey, while eventually moving to paperless working.
A pilot was launched in Bolton in 2013 and was subsequently extended to a further four practices in Fleet, Richmond, Kingston and Brighton.
The concept of the new digital customer experience requires Specsavers to invest in a full redesign of the retail area which the multiple believes is a first of its kind set up for optics and it describes as “more akin to that used in Apple stores.”
Reception desks are replaced with mobile, standing and seated service points, while customers are greeted and registered on tablet devices, which are also used to measure for the dispense of spectacles.
Complementing a more open plan layout, the multiple has invested in digital precision which is designed to help patients select the most suitable frames and prescription for their vision needs.
Commenting on the new concept, Specsavers director of professional advancement, Giles Edmonds, said: “We have embraced the most up-to-date technology and retail philosophies as a means of delivering an exceptional customer experience.”
Visiting the Brighton branch of Specsavers last week, which was one of the first to pilot the new technology and model when it benefited from a store refit nine months ago, OT gained a first-hand insight into the new concept.
On arriving at the store, the patient is greeted by a member of staff who is able to undock one of the practice’s dozen tablet computers to call up a patient’s information. The iPads are connected directly to Specsavers’ practice management system so their information can be referred to throughout both the clinical and retail experience.
Following an eye examination, patients requiring spectacles return to the retail area where an assistant will use imaging software uploaded onto an iPad to help them select the most suitable frames and lenses for their prescription. The software is able to both show the patient what the spectacles look like on, as well as capture the full range of dispensing measurements which are required.
Discussing the new concept, ophthalmic director at Specsavers in Brighton, Mike Horler, said: “We are delighted with the new look store. Specsavers has really taken optics a huge leap forward with the creation of a very modern and efficient retail environment.”
“So far the feedback that we have received from customers has been very positive,” he added.
Andrew Wallbank, retail director at Specsavers in Brighton, continued: “This new in-store concept represents a step change in how we engage with our customers and ensures a highly personalised service.
“Alongside the clinical benefits, it is also about the retail theatre and ensuring the customer experience is not just good enough to convince them to buy the product, it also excites them about the journey they’ve been on. We want people to talk about the journey, not just have a better journey.”