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For eye care professionals

Are consumers still searching for the ideal independent optician?

08 August 2019

It’s key to differentiate yourself, and be in front of consumers before they even knew they needed you.
When it comes to choosing which optician to visit, there are no doubt a few different factors that would affect your decision. It’s important that independent opticians are supported by a local community, but only if that optician has a sufficient offering for its patients. While many patients opt for a larger multiple or chain optician, the charm and service of an independent optician is still favoured by many.
 
The new challenge lies in how an independent optician can continue to update itself and move with the times, in order to compete with a larger practice. It is critical for independent opticians to take advantage of key opportunities, in order to attract new patients and retain their current customers.
 
What factors affect a patient’s choice of practice?
 
Patients looking for a new optician may head straight to a known chain, but most of the time they will add up a number of factors to influence their choice. Most importantly, patients are looking for convenience. As a local, independent optician, you are best placed for the community of residents around you, but only if you are able to market yourself successfully.
 
It is important that you are creating trust and building a relationship with those who could be future patients. This brings us to the second factor; customer service. One of the most important ways to attract and retain customers in any sector is offering top level customer service across the board; whether it’s getting back to an enquiry quickly, resolving an issue or providing detailed information when needed. Poor communication can be the quickest way to lose a potential customer.
 
The third most important factor that could play a role in a consumers search for an independent optician is the technology available. There could be a huge misconception that only the national chains have access to the latest technology and devices, leading to independents missing out because they aren’t advertising effectively enough.
 
What do consumers want from an independent optician?
 
Today’s consumers need a strong reason to enter your premises over a competitor’s. Patient expectations are forever evolving, including more digital solutions and a personalised approach wherever they go.
 
Consider how many of your services are available online; can a patient book an appointment through your website, or request a repeat prescription? This can play a huge factor amongst a society that is used to having everything at their fingertips.
 
Furthermore, patients are expecting a more personalised approach, with tailored lenses to suit their individual lifestyle and needs. A transparent process is required, with patients more interested in learning about their health care. If you can’t deliver this, you are losing out to a practice that can.

How do you achieve this?
 
It’s key to differentiate yourself, and be in front of consumers before they even knew they needed you. Being able to offer a niche service in your area can remind consumers just how effective and convenient an independent business can be.
 
Patient expectations can still include the services of an independent optician, as long as you have positioned yourself as a professional, modern and approachable practice.

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