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THE CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE:
PART 2STAYING RELEVANT IN A CHANGING EYE CARE ECONOMY
Radical times require radical changes in office design, patient flow, and more
REIMAGINING... THE OPTOMETRIC OFFICE
No pain. No gain. Ben Franklin said it. Jane Fonda did, too.1 Fast forward to todays tumultuous times, and you may find yourself asking why you should go through the agony of reeval-uating your practice, including its design and patient flow.
My answer? As author Mandy Hale told us in Part 1 of this four-part series, Growth is painful. Change is painful. But nothing is as painful as staying stuck somewhere you dont belong.2
Im Michael A. Kling, OD, and I know that pain. More importantly, as president and CEO of In-vision Optometry in San Diego, Ive also experi-enced the resulting gain.
After four practice purchases, change is a given at Invision Optometry. Though the process can be painful, change is, in fact, something we have learned to embrace. Thats one reason I have created this series on critical components of practice success, which is sponsored by Optometry Worth Sharing, an organization dedi-cated to providing a roadmap to success for the independent practitioner.
TIME FOR CHANGEThe term "disruptive technology" was coined in 1997 by Harvard Business Professor and business management expert Clayton Christensen in his book, The Innovators Dilemma. According to Investopedia, the worlds largest financial information website, a disruptive technology is one that significantly alters the way businesses operate. [It] may force companies to alter the way they approach their business, risk losing market share or risk becoming irrelevant.2
In Part 1, we focused on disruptive technologies and how radical times require radical changes. One big disruption is how consumers, especially millen-nials, are changing their attitudes toward shopping. That means you need to change as well.
Fortunately, investing in a customer experience strategy can increase revenue by 19%, according to Avanade, a technology services provider.3 In fact, business executives surveyed found: For every $1 spent on developing customer experience, organi-zations are seeing [on average] a $3 return.
Thats a win-win. Sure it means an investment in time and resources to upgrade your business, but it also means there is a bottom-line benefit to doing so.
This white paper will track the what and the why behind Invision Optometrys transformation. The point? To show you step by step the changes, and the reasons for them, so that you, too, can make sure your customer experience strategy stays in step with increasing customer expectations.
According to recent research, only 48% of ECPs report they have remodeled their dispensaries in the past 7 years.4 That leaves 62% who definitely need to upgrade. Now!
For our location, the writing was on the wall. Literally. We had to change and upgrade both our look and our operations. Specifically, we needed:
more space because we had hit capacity. additional display opportunities that a larger
retail space could deliver. new technologiesa must! ways to address challenges, such as compro-
mised patient flow as well as limited revenue per patient and revenue per square foot.
WHAT WE DIDAccording to the Journal of Marketing, Brick-and-mortar is the only retail channel that engages all
THE CUSTOMER EXPERIENCEPART 2: REIMAGINING THE OPTOMETRIC OFFICEBy Michael A. Kling, OD
Environmental psychologist and retail guru Paco Underhill offers some rules of the (retail) road, adapted from his book, Why We Buy: The Science of Shopping.12
ZONE. On entering a store, people need to slow down and sort out the stimuli. Whatever is in the zone they cross before making that transition (usually the first 10-25 paces) is pretty much lost on them.
TOUCH. A store can offer the finest, cheapest, sexiest goods, but if the shopper cant pick them up, its all for nothing.
WINDOWS. For a window, I want something that can be absorbed in 2 seconds.
five senses and creates social experiences through the interaction between employees and customers.5
Thats one reason first impressions are all-important. The problem is that, as far as I can tell, almost everything bad that happens occurs or starts at the front desk. Our solution? We replaced it with a coffee bar and expanded the concept of the greeting.
Then we redesigned our retail space to create an open shopping experience. We recognized that shoppers need space to browse and that our mindset needed to move away from clinical toward providing a more retail experience.
KEY CONCEPTWe wanted an open design. To achieve that, we created:
Decompression zones and strategic seating. Shopping bubbles and wide aisles in order to avoid
"butt brushes," a phrase coined by retail guru Paco Underhill in his retailing bible, Why We Buy.6 Most designers suggest an aisle width of at least 36 inches or better yet, 48 inches.
A warm welcome and greeting. The sense of product abundance. A browsing-friendly environment. A design that encourages a flow to the right. Why?
Because 80% of consumers turn right when they enter a retail establishment and then walk first through the right side of the store, then along the perimeters, and, finally, down any aisles. One suggestion: Put a popular product on the left side to balance the flow.
One interesting outcome was that once we expanded our space, we actually scaled back on the number of frames we carried. However, we started hearing com-ments like, Wow, you have so many more new frames, when in fact we had fewer.
RETHINKING THE DISPENSARYHere are some of the key considerations we addressed.
VIGNETTES. Creating seating vignettes throughout our retail space helps us avoid the waiting room concept of a single isolated area and encourages browsing while patients wait.
DISPLAYS. Open-shelving displays, without slat boards and locking cases, create the perception of more and better products. Under-lit shelving helps accentuate frame colors.
LESS IS MORE. Scarcity creates value, so we limit point-of-purchase advertising and keep the focus on crisp displays and clean lines.
LIGHTING. Bright LED lighting on shelves and in overheads allows us to be more creative with the retail application since LED lamps have more flexibility with beam control, lumen output, and color temperature at all distances.7 Theyre also cost effective, lasting 25 times longer than an incandescent bulb and five times longer than compact fluorescents.
MERCHANDISING. The key concept we addressed is,
We installed open shelving to make frames easily accessible, and under-lit lighting to accentuate the frame colors.
In place of a waiting room, we created seating vignettes throughout the space to encourage browsing while waiting.
We eliminated our front desk in lieu of a coffee bar to better welcome patients and make a good first impression.
of course, merchandising. That includes color, creating focal points, easing customer interaction with and expo-sure to product, and exploiting empty space. Check out the above sidebar for hands-on strategies to help you merchandise like a pro.
TECHNOLOGY. At Invision Optometry, technology is an important part of creating the experience. We are experimenting with new ways to engage with customers, and because we have limited space for mirrors, we utilize interactive flat screen monitors to represent our best frame lines. Each flat screen displays marketing and video content thats unique to that frame line, and also has a built-in camera for taking selfies and posting to social media. The system also offers a lens demo feature for our opticians to use when discussing lens design options.
Bottom line? Its all about enhancing the experience. As Rachel Shechtman, founder of the amazing retail con-cept STORY, puts it, The old paradigm is about a place that sells things. The new paradigm is an experience that sells things.8 Thats why making sure your design and layout tell a story the right story is so important.
TYING IT TOGETHERThis process also involves rethinking how things are done. For example, when we replaced our front desk with a coffee bar, we also created interview rooms where pre-exam data are collected. Advanced diagnos-tic testing is utilized to gather data, and then transmit-ted to the exam rooms.
Efficiency is critical, and that was a key consideration in planning for that area. The exam rooms are clutter-free, with sleek and modular cabinetry that adds flexibility to the modern, clean look.
To enhance that fresh feel even more, we moved our business operations, including phones, away from patient care. We also created a dedicated meeting room, a place to share ideas. That has allowed us to more readily dedicate additional time to collaboration, training, and coaching.
BOTTOM-LINE BENEFITS Training. Design. Technology. Expertise. Each of them is critical, but the elephant in that room is whether its all enough to keep consumers coming back to a brick-and-mortar location.
Heres how futurist Ryan Matthews answers that: If you dont need to go to a place to get stuff, what do you need to go to a place for? Thats what we call higher-engagement things: the experience, advice, consultation, fun. Weve moved beyond transaction and into real relationships.9
In Part 3 of this series, where we discuss smart marketing, well tell you how to make sure youre on the right road to growing those relationships.
1. Avanade, Sitecore. Customer Experiences and Your Bottom Line. Published May 2016. Last accessed May 31