One of the more difficult situations to handle is a customer who can’t decide whether or not to buy.  Their indecision can cause a lot of frustration for staff, particularly if other patients are waiting for help.  There are a number of strategies that can help alleviate the stress of this bottleneck.

The first step is to make sure that your offerings are clearly laid out, including costs.  Create pricing tools that offer choices in different categories.  For example, clearly show your customers the cost difference between lens technology and material options.  Highlight what other features are available, including photochromic material and anti-reflection coating.  With the choices clearly laid out, it will be easier for the client to select what makes the most sense for them, in terms of benefits and price.

Make sure your staff understands the difference between a feature and a benefit.  While anti-reflection is a feature that is offered on most lenses, the benefit to the patient is being able to see better, particularly at night, which is a common patient complaint. In their own words, staff can explain that by way of letting more light through to the back of the eyes, anti-reflection coating can actually help patients see better!

Story telling helps illustrate the benefits most effectively.  If your staff has a personal experience or anecdotal experience from another patient that helps highlight the benefit of a product, encourage them to share it with patients.

Offering a satisfaction guarantee can also help move the needle.  Patients who are well informed will make a great choice for themselves. Being able to make a clear, informed decision also reduces the risk of buyer’s remorse.

Demonstration can be an incredibly powerful tool. Have a pair of polarized sunglasses and a pair of tinted lenses for demo purposes only. Invite patients to take both pairs outside and see the difference for themselves. Experiencing the benefit for themselves can help the patient arrive at a decision.

If a patient is having trouble narrowing down their frame selection, there are strategies that can assist them in the process of elimination. Use a decorative shopping tray in which to place all the finalists. Which is your least favourite between these two choices? Is it fair to take that one out of the decision pile? Once you have narrowed the selection to two or three, sit down with the client to discuss primary and secondary pairs of glasses.

Contact lenses are a commodity product. They can be shopped and purchased easily from many different sources.  Price is usually a deciding factor. Be sure to inform patients about rebates, as many are unaware of them and it can be the reason they decide to buy. For convenience, also offer to ship the contacts directly to the patient’s home.

Most ODs are selling drops and vitamins as a convenience for patients. It is important to stock this product in different price points and break it down to a cost per day for the patient. Stocking these products also reinforces the importance of the recommendation. Like contact lenses, many of these products are a commodity, so offering selection and choice helps the consumer to feel more confident in their purchase.

Practitioners who offer specialty services like Vision Therapy or Customized contact lenses, can face skepticism and price objections. Particularly if the service is new to them, the patient may lack confidence in the effectiveness of the intervention. Testimonials on the website and in writing can help build confidence and make the decision-making process easier for the patient.

With all of these strategies, the key idea is choice.  Take the time to review all of the choices and you will encounter fewer indecisive clients.

Christina Ferrari

Christina Ferrari

is the co-founder and managing partner of Simple Innovative Management Ideas (SIMI) Inc. and expert Practice Management contributor for Optik magazine. She can be reached at