New Products and Then Some

By Peggy Conway, Homer Optical
As everyone in the optical industry knows, new lens designs and technologies, new products and product line extensions are the rule, not the exception. Our vendors, i.e., the companies coming out with all this new “stuff” are very good at training on the technology, and providing great support materials. We work closely with all vendors to ensure that customer service staff is fully trained and comfortable with all new products. Webinars are very popular, and an efficient training method we embrace. We also have a weekly meeting with our sales consultants to ensure that they are comfortable with all information sent to them.

Once the initial training is completed for customer service and sales consultants, there are other sales and marketing pro’s and con’s to deal with. New products are fun and exciting because they allow us to help our customers and ultimately the patient. Our sales consultants take pride in being one of the first to update their customers. At the same time new products present challenges, the biggest of which is keeping track of product availability and pricing. We have two tools we use routinely to keep the information flowing!

1. Progressive Lens Price List

Since most of the new products are a progressive lens design and/or additional material availability, we decided that the best way to keep our information current was to create a Progressive Lens Price List that could be updated on an as-needed basis. We brought production and printing in-house, enabling us to print lower quantities with the ability to update on demand.

Once we had this tool readily available, our sales consultants felt comfortable talking about new products, material availability, and pricing. Bob Hawes, one of our sales consultants says, “My customers love it… it’s turned into a Progressive Lens Availability chart. It’s a great reference tool for them, and everytime we update with new information, it’s the perfect ‘excuse’ for me to stop by.”

The concept has evolved to include other valuable information including fitting height, and VSP approval codes. It’s organized alphabetically by vendor, then by progressive lens brand.

2. Customer Service Mystery Shopper Program

This program was developed to ensure that customer service uses the new product information they learn; give our sales consultants another reason to talk about new products to their customers; make it a fun experience for the participating eye care professional and winning customer service staff member. Best of all it’s simple.

Here’s how it works. Every week we choose a “trigger order” and appropriate response from our customer service representative. Our sales consultants ask a customer to make the phone call that is the “trigger order” and pays them $10 to do so. Example—if a customer orders poly or high index (that’s the trigger), our customer service representative should ask “what AR process would you like on that order?” If the customer service rep asks the question, they win $10. It’s fun for the customer, makes them aware of the product we’re highlighting, creates enthusiasm internally, and generates product awareness… a win-win situation.


Labtalk June 2020