An Eye For Customer Service
By Peter L DeHaan
was an emergency run to the eye doctor. Being
far-sighted and using a computer all day makes my glasses an
indispensable tool – one that I treat with the utmost care.
Imagine my dismay when in the midst of my morning cleaning
routine, I heard the frame snap and a lens landed in my hand.
I was panic-stricken. How would I be able to
get any work done?
arrived at my optometrist’s office, practically as the doors opened,
glad that they would take a “walk-in.” I
explained the situation and although they treated my disaster with
matter-of-fact routine, I was comforted that they were willing to
help. “We’ll need to order new frames,” the
you simply fix them?” I inquired.
could,” he droned, “but there is no guarantee…it might hold a
day, maybe a few months. Don’t worry,” he
added, “we’ll get you some loaner frames to use while you wait for
your new ones.” Trusting his advice, I assented.
disappeared into a back room and returned several minutes later.
The look on his face braced me for bad news. “Your
frames have been discontinued. We’ll have to fix
your old ones…they can be soldered.” Now I have
done my share of soldering over the years: in electronics to make an
electrical connection and in plumbing to seal a joint. I
was highly skeptical that solder would repair my damaged frames for
more than a few minutes. I began to voice my
apprehension. He smiled assuredly and clarified.
“Actually, it’s more like welding.” Now
I knew he was off base. During a stint working at a
machine shop, I did more types of welding than most people know exist.
I did not see any of those methods successfully repairing my
delicate wire-rims. But I was out of options and
reluctantly consented. He quickly outlined the
details: the broken frames would need to be sent out for
repair…they’ll be back in a few days, maybe by Saturday…it would
cost twenty dollars.
then set about finding a loaner frame. After half
an hour with no success, he finally uncovered one old demo pair that,
although not the right dimensions, would at least hold my lenses in
place and keep them approximately positioned in front of my eyes –
the temple pieces were much too short, which tipped the lenses
forward, throwing off the bifocals. I would need to
adapt. Grateful for a solution, albeit
uncomfortable and less than ideal, I reminded myself that it was only
for a few days and gratefully thanked him. His
parting promise was clear; “We’ll call you when your frames come
back – let’s hope for Saturday.”
I left, I confirmed the plan at the front desk, “Yes,” she
affirmed, “We’ll call you when they come in.” I
came but without a call. Monday they were closed.
I called them on Tuesday. I got an answering
machine. Dismayed that they did not answer their
phone in the middle of the day, I left a message imploring them to
call. No one called. Wednesday I
called again. “Sure, they’re here,” she said
cheerfully. “You can stop in any time,” she
added, as though getting my frames back and returning my life to
normal was a trivial and incidental matter.
now, the tops of my ears were inflamed and the bridge of my nose
tender because of the ill-fitting frames. “I’ll
be there in twenty minutes,” was my firm and somewhat terse reply.
man greeted me soon after I arrived. “It will
only take a few minutes to switch lenses,” he said with a smile.
I reminded him that the screws holding my lenses in my frames
have a tendency to loosen and fall out. “Don’t
worry,” he assured, “I’ll put in special screws with
‘lock-tight’ on them.”
I responded firmly, “you’ve done that before and they fall out
too. Last time you said that you ‘glued
them’.” I was dismayed that this critical
information was not in my file, as he had re-installed my lenses four
times in the past three years. He said nothing, but
gave me a slight look of comprehension, retreating into his work area.
A few minutes later, he returned and I donned my restored
glasses; what a great feeling, it was just like slipping into a
comfortable pair of old shoes!
thanked him and segued to my next goal. “Will you
please put my old lenses in another frame – any frame,” I
inquired, “so that I can have a back-up pair?”
frames have been discontinued,” he said, telling me what I already
someone makes a frame that will fit my lenses,” I prodded.
already looked, remember?” Now he was becoming
irritated with me. “You’ll need to order new
frames and get new lenses, and before we’ll do that, you’ll need
an eye exam.”
will be almost five hundred dollars,” I said in dismay, recalling
the cost of my initial introduction to glasses. “I
can only afford to buy a second frame,” I embellished.
really should have an eye exam every year,” he lectured.
“And it’s been fourteen months for you.”
just want to buy a back-up frame,” I pleaded.
reply was curt, “Sorry, we can’t help you.” He
turned and walked away.
I casually mentioned my ordeal – and desire for a back up pair of
glasses – to my mother. Mom took this on as a
personal challenge and the next day surprised me with a list of
businesses willing to assist. Two days later, I
visited the top one on her list. Their office was
closer, easier to get to, and had free parking at the door.
I walked in, explained my plight to the receptionist, and
shared my goal. I waited a few minutes and was
greeted by a kind and empathetic young lady. She
listened to my tale of woe, acknowledging that it, too, would have
been their preference for an exam, new frames, and new lenses.
Nevertheless, she said she would do her best to help me.
She began to look for suitable frames and I realized her intent
was to handle my request immediately. She came back
with a frame that she thought would work with some adjustments or by
grinding my lenses. I had not expected an immediate
resolution and since there were several other customers waiting at the
time, I told her that I would be more than happy to come back later.
She thanked me and promised to work on my glasses first thing
the next day; I could stop by any time. I believed
returned the next afternoon. She recognized me and
immediately approached me, smiling broadly. “I
have your glasses done,” she beamed with the pride of an artist.
“I am really pleased with how they turned out.”
Because of her genuine sincerity, I knew that I would be
pleased as well. She had not had to grind my lenses
down after all. I was only charged for the frames,
there was no labor fee, and I got a free case and a discount, too.
I thanked her profusely. She said that she
was glad she was able to help.
my prior visit, I had noticed a sign that gave their repair rates.
To solder frames was only five dollars. My
old optometrist had charged four times as much! I
realized that five dollars would not even cover shipping, so I
reasoned that repairs were done in-house; I suspected I would not have
to wait eight days either. I had already decided
that they would be my new optometrist, but took one more step to
confirm my decision. “By the way,” I inquired,
“how much is an eye exam?” It was fifty dollars
less than what I had been paying! I promised her
that I would be back.
giving poor customer service, my eye doctor had lost a long-time patient;
by going the extra mile, someone else had gained one.
to Lose Patients, Clients, or Callers:
apathetic toward their situation
promises you don’t keep
listen to them
credibility by making recommendations that are self-serving
to keep good records of previous interactions
them a reason to check out your competition
to Gain Patients, Clients, or Callers:
genuinely sympathetic, even if it is a routine matter for you
make promises you can keep
time to really listen to what they say
credibility by going the extra mile
sure their interaction with you is pleasant and memorable
them a reason to never return to their old provider
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