Less One Or Two… More About You: Why Building Relationships Matter

Throughout the history of humankind, building relationships and connecting with other people has been of huge importance! From working together to find the best foraging grounds to joining forces to fend off that sabre toothed tiger attack people have needed people. And okay, although nowadays we might generally be a bit more self sufficient, over these last few pandemic filled, socially distanced years, where we’re increasingly living a digital life it has never been more important to build relationships: not only with our friends and family, but also with our patients and customers.

Remember… we are more than just refraction machines…we are human

We might come to the same result when we test, but ask yourself – who feels more looked after? The patient we test on autopilot, whilst thinking about what’s for dinner that night, or the one we take the time to talk to and listen to. Of course we all know its the latter! Our patients feel more looked after if we connect with them. In fact l’m sure most of us know or have known of an optom colleague who perhaps doesn’t always do the most accurate test, but who the patients absolutely love. Because they’ve taken the time to build a relationship and find out about what’s important to them.

And if the answer is that obvious, then why is it something we can find so difficult sometimes?

We know time pressures can be an issue, but we should always remember we are not just refraction machines, we are not just sellers of spectacles, or diagnoser’s of disorders. We are human beings, and so are our patients. So when doing your routine history and symptoms why not slip in a question or two about how they like to spend any spare time, or whether they’re planning a trip this year. Compliments on something they’re wearing can often spark a chat about places they’ve been shopping or family that have bought the item in question. Or maybe if they mention that they’re struggling with their near vision start chatting about what it is they like to read. And if you’re not sure on how to start the conversation perhaps try a lifestyle questionnaire pre-exam – it’s a great way to find out that little bit more.

Also, if your memory is anything like mine, then just make a few subtle notes on their record!Imagine how great your patients would feel if next time you saw them you remembered to ask how their grandson is doing at university, or if you remembered what their favourite coffee was and made them one whilst they choose their new frames.

And its not just about the patients! Think about how much more interesting your day might become when you take that time to investigate not just their eyes, but also their lives! Over the years l’ve had some brilliant book and travel recommendations, heard fascinating tales from patients (including one who shared a plate of crisps with the queen – yes really!) I’ve had gifts of photography and home made jam, and learnt weird and wonderful facts about all sorts of topics (you never know when that might come in handy in a pub quiz!) because we’ve chatted about what interests them.

Building relationships can reap future rewards

Learning about our patients lives also means we can make the best recommendations to them from an optical point of view: being able to recommend a particular lens or second pair of specs because you’ve found out they love painting landscapes, or mountain biking can totally transform their enjoyment of their hobbies. And as well as this meaning they’ll be forever grateful to you, isn’t this also what we should be trying to do anyway for the ultimate in patient care?

It’s not just the optoms either – our optical reps should get in on the ‘getting to know you’ action too! When a rep takes the time to connect with the practice, to learn whether their clients are all about the technical or the fashion, and to not just focus on the selling but to find out what the practice actually needs it can completely change how they’re received. People buy in to people, and building long term mutually beneficial relationships starts with learning about each other.

So take note, taking the time to foster our optical relationships can reap rewards in the long term – not just from a business point of view, but also from a personal fulfilment one.

And on that note, mines a coconut latte if you’d like to write that down.

Article written by: Kirsty Litherland

Find her here: Holland Opticians | LinkedIn

Spread the love

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *