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For eye care professionals

Why we're upskilling optical staff for modern independents

It's essential to driving business growth

When did you last send your staff on a training course? Do you regularly ask them about what areas they want to develop? Review the team strengths and look for gaps? With technology advancing apace and consumer retail expectations rising, staff may not be up to date with the latest ways to give patients the best experience and visual solutions. It’s understandable, but potentially damaging, nonetheless, as it could affect potential footfall and retention. 

There’s plenty you can do to help your business stay current and keep your staff trained in the latest industry technologies and news.  In this article we talk about why upskilling staff through digital technology and modernisation is essential to driving business growth, as well as provide a few tips to help you stay on top. 

Looking ahead

How do you horizon scan for the latest developments in optics? Staying in touch with industry news and developments helps  keep you proactive: always thinking ahead so your practice remains a top choice for anyone wanting an excellent clinical experience with the best products. 

However, it can be easy to concentrate on technical developments without considering the people-power needed to deliver professional services. Are your staff fully aware of the latest technologies  available to them?  And is every member of the practice team trained to share these new developments with patients. 

There are many things that make it hard to stay up to date: a lack of industry awareness or a lack of online conversations about technology, for example. New digital techniques and optical innovations such as personalised lenses may fail to make it to non-digitally-enhanced dispensing areas, or be delivered by untrained staff. It’s all too common for  in store digital advertising to be operated by untrained assistants. If you’re reading this article you are probably already aware of the need to stay up to date with developments, but does this apply to all your staff? Now could be the time to put in place an annual review, examining your ambitions for your practice, and whether staff skills match up. This can allow you to develop a future-facing staff development plan.

So what should I focus on?

If you want more inspiration for ways to upskill your employees for a modern dispensary,  here’s some topics that you could consider incorporating into in-practice staff training:

Terms and Tech

New developments in technology can lead to new terms and phrases. When you come back from a trade show with brochures and links to follow up, make a note of new sales speak and terminology. Taking time to talk through developments like Essilor Bespoke with staff is a great place to start; otherwise you risk any further training going over their heads. At the same time, you can also help them consider what the general public understand of their product, teaching them how to communicate new technological developments in eye care and eyewear to the non-expert. 

Digital Measurement

Personalised measuring devices are also well worth examining in a staff training session. It can be easy for an under confident dispenser to go back to using a PD ruler and marker pen if they are unsure about a new dispensing device. While no-one disputes excellent dispensing can be done ‘old school’, this can lead to your practice investing in equipment that is under used. What’s more, we’re seeing now that patients like the theatre of the new-style measuring devices. It’s a chance for them to understand how a lens is personalised to their exact requirements. Indeed, a survey carried out for Essilor Bespoke shows that 67% of patients believe that there is a strong impact on lens performance when measured with an iPad or personalised measuring device. 

VR dispensing

This leads on to a further development, and one that is well worth talking through with staff. The eyecare industry is one of the first to utilise virtual reality (VR). VR  takes your patients to a new world where they can virtually experience new products and therefore transforming the dispensing experience. It allows the person to test their lenses before buying, the first time people can ‘try before you buy’, a massive hook for optics and something that can increase your practice footfall. If some of the team are making the most of these devices already, you can ask them to share their experiences. If the whole team needs a refresh it can be worth inviting your rep back in for an interactive demo session.


Personalisation is key to patient retention nowadays: if you ensure that patients are getting an individualised experience, with staff who take time to get to know them and explore their needs, they’re far less likely to go elsewhere. The bonus here is that research carried out for Essilor Bespoke shows that patients who are measured digitally are 30% more likely to purchase. Add in personalised lenses made just for them, and the bespoke consultation at every stage of a patient's journey becomes key to twenty first century practice. Talk to the whole team about how they can personalise everything they do, from the moment they consider booking an appointment, the personalised consultations, a personalised product right through to  the reminder letter they send out.


Once you have your staff team on board, the sky’s the limit when it comes to how technology can advance your practice. Think about smartphone-based solutions, new cloud-based dispensing technology and marketing/sales approaches. Your staff will see the benefits too, as they become more productive and flexible. Digital technology can help to speed up processes and diminish costs, with many practitioners reviewing their glazing with the benefits of personalised measuring data that’s transmitted almost instantly to remote labs. Exciting, right?

Overall, technology is widening consumer choice through increased personalisation. Digital measuring, well trained staff,  and personalisation make up the key pillars that build the Essilor Bespoke package. Savvy consumers are raising their expectations, and every member of your practice team needs to upskill. Are you and your staff ready? If you need a refresher, free to look through Essilor’s Bespoke service and see where modern ECPs are headed.

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