How can we satisfy “all of our customers all of the time?

By Peggy Conway
When working on plans for 2006, we asked our sales representatives, and our customers, one basic question, “What type of marketing program is truly beneficial to your practice?”

Of course we also provided multiple-choice questions regarding the traditional marketing program model to gauge the effectiveness of such programs, and of these traditional programs, which one would be their choice.

What we found out was there was no consensus. We received a plethora of different answers from our customers — some were traditional, classic marketing programs, while others weren’t necessarily a marketing program, per se, but would still be effective in growing the bottom line.

We posed this same question to our sales representatives and guess what? Again, there was no consensus. One sales rep said, “he doesn’t need marketing — he can sell Homer Optical on merit alone.” Another sales rep preferred the targeted, baseline/goal approach, while another preferred a highly targeted program with education as the key emphasis. The message was loud and clear — each customer is unique. The old adage comes to mind — “You can fool some of the people all of the time, and all of the people some of the time” so how can we “satisfy all of our customers all of the time?”

Our conclusion…listen to your customers to create marketing programs that are truly tailored to their specific needs. This has worked for us. We took it a step further by providing classic marketing programs that overcome objections, and supporting national vendor programs through-out the year.

Homer Optical’s main marketing program for 2006 was run through our sales representatives. Each sales rep has a budget for their territory, and can use that budget to create programs for their customers as they see fit — that means we’re depending on a consultative sales force, each of whom know their customers and have a relationship established in order for this type of program to work. It requires a hands-on approach by everyone, including customer service, marketing and upper management. So whether it’s DSL lines, equipment, or a classic Homer marketing program designed to grow premium product usage… whatever the customers thinks is most important to their practice, we’re ready and willing to implement on their behalf.

This approach works for classic marketing programs as well. We “listened” to common objections and found solutions that resulted in sales growth.

1. OBJECTION: Perceived turn-around time issues on Crizal Alize.

SOLUTION: Homer’s Right on Target program that guarantees next day shipment for all uncut Crizal Alizé jobs received in our lab by 12 noon; stock orders received in our lab by 5pm go out the same day.

2. OBJECTION: Back-To-School program — board space is a problem, and parents hesitate (right or wrong) to invest in kids’ eyewear with any great options like Transitions or AR because kids loose their glasses.

SOLUTION: Our new Back-To-School program features a pre-selected kit of 6 frames complete with display frame board; package pricing with or without Transitions, TD2, and AR; one year Protection Against Loss insurance for a nominal fee.

3. OBJECTION: Just Match-It Clip-ons. ECPs “stuck with other clips that either don’t fit, or are old and collecting dust.”

SOLUTION: Homer’s Clip-On Clean Sweep” program takes clips as a “$10 trade in” against purchase of new Just Match-It clips.

All of the above examples eliminated the most common objections and all products have seen a significant increase in sales.

Of course we continue to support national programs managed by our vendors.

We work hand-in-hand with vendors to create materials customized with Homer’s name and other information, and often “piggy-back” on their promotions by matching the incentive.

Continuing Education — We participate with vendors as well as offer Homer’s own unique in-office STRATA training. As the name implies, there are “layers,” or four training modules that our sales reps present in the ECP’s office: Converting Patients into Customers; Converting Customers to Revenue; Sunwear … The “Other” First Pair; and Attracting and Retaining Patients.

New product launches and education to ensure our customers have the most recent information available.

Mystery Shopper program for Customer Service — this program is designed to help support new products, marketing programs, any information that our customer service staff can easily and quickly communicate to our customers.

So — how do you “Satisfy all of your customers all of the time”? Well, it’s probably impossible. But we can “satisfy MORE of our customers ALL of the time” and that really is our objective, because in the end, that is what will make our customers happy, and make them choose Homer Optical as their wholesale laboratory of choice.

CURRENT ISSUE


May/June LabTalk 2017