A Monthly Briefing for Optical Lab Owners and Managers

- February 2018 -

Dollars & Sense

Make What You Say Pay

Lab Notes

New Products


Dollars & Sense

Closing Calls Like a Pro

Kate Zabriskie

Telephone customer service may look easy, but until you’re responsible for navigating the world of tough calls, it’s difficult to appreciate the kicking, blocking, and sparring skills some customers have perfected.

Luckily, there are some proven moves for handling difficult calls and doing so in a way that keeps customers coming back. These three specific moves, when used with precision, can improve interactions with challenging callers:

MOVE ONE: Set the Stage from the Start:
The first tactic is designed to help service providers end calls with long talkers when the conversation gets to the point where there is no additional business to be done.

Because you can’t always identify a long talker at the beginning of a call, it’s a good idea to start most of your interactions using this move.

Here’s how it works. Thank callers for dialing in and letting them know you are glad to hear from them.

“Dr. Smith, I’m so happy you called. How is your morning going?” Allow for a minute of chit chat. “Well, I sure am glad/sorry to hear that. What is it that I can do for you today?”

Now, if you ask, “How is your morning going” and you’re told, “fine,” move on to helping the caller. The person is probably not a long talker, but you won’t know for sure until you test the water.

Your expression of interest at the start of a conversation gives people the feeling you don’t find them to be a burden. Communicating that is especially important in environments that serve a lot of callers who are routinely blown off by most of the people they interact with.

Why does this tactic work? Long talkers almost expect you to rush the conversation and try to escape, just as everyone else does. But when you don’t follow that pattern, these people tend to be pleasantly surprised, and they have less of an urge to try to keep you on the line.

Showing genuine interest is a win-win for you and your callers. Does this mean you should be prepared to spend an extra 20 minutes with everyone who dials in? No. You are, however, on the phone to be compassionate and kind. The extra niceties shouldn’t take you but a minute or two. What’s more, if you master them, you’ll find that your overall call length will decrease, and the frequency of dial-ins from long callers will decline.

MOVE TWO: “No” Know-How:
The service business, from time to time the answer is “no.” How you communicate this message can have a lot to do with how palatable it is.

Here’s how to employ “no” know-how, with the backdrop set at a property management company.

Scenario One: Someone is in a resident’s preferred parking space, and there is no assigned parking in the complex.

Choice One: “Mr. Jones, there are no assigned parking spaces in your building”

Choice Two: “Mr. Jones, I hear you. I’d love to have an assigned parking space myself. Let me take a look at the lease for your building. Please give me a minute. Pause. Mr. Jones, the lease for your building does not provide for assigned spots. I know you like your spot, and I wish I could tell you it was yours and only yours, but I wouldn’t be telling the truth if I did. At this point, you have to hope your favorite parking place is empty when you want it because it can’t be reserved”

The second choice is preferable to the customer because while the “what” is obviously the same, the “how” makes a difference. There are reasons why option two is a service-centric response, in comparison to the dismissive nature of option one. First, the service representative is repeating what she’s been told; never mind that she already knows the building doesn’t have assigned spaces. But by repeating Mr. Jones’s complaint, she’s showing she’s listening. She’s agreeing that having an assigned space is preferable. Agreeing with the statement shows she connects with caller’s desires. It doesn’t mean she’s going to change the rules. When she pauses before breaking the bad news, she shows she is serious about the question and shifts the focus from herself to the lease. In other words, she’s communicating that the disagreement is between the terms of the lease and the caller and not the caller and herself. Finally, she ends by reinforcing that she understands Mr. Jones, and she wishes the answer were different.

MOVE THREE: Suggest a Close:
When you are interacting with people in person, you can use body language to suggest it’s time to move on. Body language is powerful.

During telephone interactions, you don’t have the luxury of body language, so you’ll need to use a different move to draw calls to a natural close. Although these ideas are not as simple as saying, “Dr. Green, I’m picking up my purse,” they’re close.

Let’s look at a few examples.

“Dr. Jones, I certainly have enjoyed talking to you, and I don’t want to tie up your afternoon. Let me go ahead and make a note that you called about this, and then I’ll let you get back to your day”

“Dr. Smith, I’m sorry I wasn’t able to give you the answer you were hoping for. I certainly prefer it when that’s not the case. Before we hang up, is there anything else I can answer for you?”

“Dr. Allen, you’ve certainly shared a lot with me (repeat the facts). Is there anything else I need to ask before I hang up and start researching the answer? “

Each of those closes suggests the end is near, and each is tailored for a certain kind of customer.

Option one would work well for someone in need of service and a friend. Option two is a good choice for situations where you have to say “no,” and you want to reinforce the idea that you are empathetic. Option three is a winner when you have callers who repeat themselves.

Being a telephone ninja when ending calls is part art and part science. Refining your master moves requires precision and practice. But as the saying goes, “no pain, no gain.”

Kate Zabriskie is the president of Business Training Works, Inc., a Maryland-based talent development firm. She and her team help businesses establish customer service strategies and train their people to live up to what’s promised. For more information, visit SHARE THIS:



Lab Notes

Quest Vision Specialty Care Lab, Inc. appoints new VP of Operations


Quest Vision Care Specialty Lab, Inc., known as “the lab’s lab” throughout the wholesale industry, announces the appointment of Greg Boruta as the company’s new Vice President of Operations.

Boruta has been with Quest since its inception 14 years ago, climbing the ranks from apprentice to lab manager through the mastery of all the necessary skills for lab managers across the globe. Immigrating to the United States in 1996 after studying marketing at the internationally renowned private national University of Louis in Mielec, Poland, he began his career at Walach Industries, learning the ins and out of optical tool manufacturing.

When Quest opened in 2014, Boruta was part of the original team. Now, over a decade later, he has come to represent the amazing American Dreamesque success that is Quest, as one of the benefactors as well as key instigators in its continued growth and success.

“Quest is incredibly fortunate to have such a diligent and talented member of our team now leading the day to day operations of the lab,” said Michael Walach, the chairman and CEO of Quest Lab. "Greg was the obvious choice for several reasons, including his fearlessness to attempt the impossible and his ability to identify and subsequently solve problems. What really sets him apart from other candidates is his unrelentless pursuit of perfection and willingness to make sure the job gets done right. He completely embodies our timeless philosophy at Quest that we have never refused a prescription order. No matter how extreme, complex or unusual the request may be, we always find a way to deliver.”

Boruta shared that he felt “honored” by the company’s decision, commenting that, “What makes Quest so special is its inherent uniqueness, unlike any other lab in the world. Not only do we have the great privileged to produce with some of the hardest jobs in the world, but we have the freedom to use our knowledge of technology and optics to find the best solution for the patient.”

Boruta is due to unveil his detailed strategy for growth and operational plans for the future during the first fiscal quarter.

Transitions Academy 2018 Helps Attendees Stay “Future Ready”


More than 900 industry professionals from North and South America gathered this week at the Swan Resort in Orlando for the 22nd annual Transitions Academy.

During the two-day, invitation-only event – themed “Future Ready” – attendees took part in professional development and product technology workshops; heard from experts and educators on marketing and industry trends; and learned from their peers and partners.

During Monday morning’s opening session, attendees were welcomed with an exciting performance and opening remarks from Jose Alves, general manager, Americas. Next, to set the stage for how the Transitions® brand is staying “Future Ready,” Chrystel Barranger, president of photochromics, Transitions Optical unveiled Transitions Optical’s new global brand identity and refreshed consumer campaign. The morning continued with a Trendspotting Leadership Panel hosted by Marian Salzman, CEO, Havas PR North America, which featured opinions from various participants from the industry, including:

• Catherine Rauscher, global director, strategic business innovation, Transitions Optical
• Joseph Plott, VP of merchandising- lenses, Visionworks
• Mark Wright, OD, Professional Vision Care
• Fayiz Mahgoub, optometry student, Western University College of Optometry
• Diana Monea, OD, Eye Health Centres
• Ernani Parussolo, director of sales, Repro Produtos Opticos

Paddy McDermott, president & chief innovation officer; Darragh O'Connor, VP global marketing; and Luc Nouvelot, director global R&D, then took the main stage to share the latest news in Transitions® lens product innovation. Next, Jason Dorsey, who delivered the hit keynote a year ago on millennials in the workplace, returned to the Academy stage to deliver the results of proprietary research conducted by The Center for Generational Kinetics for Transitions Academy.

Patience Cook, director, North America marketing, and Rose Harris, associate director, channel marketing strategies, closed Monday’s general session presentations with an overview of Transitions Optical’s 2018 marketing and consumer outreach plans as well as how partners and their customers can leverage these efforts within their businesses.

“Transitions Academy offers a great opportunity for us to bring our partners together and to be able to provide them with a unique educational experience that can be shared with their co-workers and customers,” said Alves. “The theme ‘Future Ready’ allowed attendees to see how Transitions Optical is heading into the future, and inspired them to think about different ways they can be forward-thinking in their own professional and personal lives. We discussed global trends, listened to consumer preferences and created an open dialogue around establishing photochromics as a smarter lens standard. I’m more excited than ever to see what success attendees are going to achieve with what they learned during Transitions Academy.”

Monday’s curriculum continued with industry elective sessions with three course options:

• Engage, Amaze and Convert, Bill Gerber founder, creative director, OMG! (Optical Marketing Group)
• Eyecessorize led by Lindsey Ruhe, The Vision Council, and Dr. Amanda Rights, OD, from Blue Ridge Vision, and a special appearance by Coco & Breezy, founders of Coco & Breezy
• Learn to Dominate Digitally, Trudi Charest and Kevin Wilhelm, Marketing4ECPs

The energy of Transitions Academy continued to build as Tuesday commenced with a keynote presentation from Jeremy Gutsche about how to be Better & Faster -- better at making change happen, and faster at finding your next idea. Gutsche led the conversation on how to overcome the psychological traps that consistently block successful people from realizing their potential and taught the six patterns of opportunity; the proven paths to unstoppable ideas.

Tuesday continued with professional development workshops where attendees attended one of three workshops. Next, attendees participated in one of two breakout sessions on Transitions product training. Later, attendees reconvened at a Breakthrough Activation session led by Brian Biro where attendees had an opportunity to break through stagnation, find inspiration and galvanize their action plans through Biro's signature board breaking activity. The professional development workshops included:

• Jump Starting Social Media Marketing, Jennifer Lyerly, OD, and Darryl Glover, OD, DeFocus Media
• Leading and Facilitating Effective Meetings, Ed Ramos and Rob Pennacchini, Dale Carnegie
• Present Your Ideas with Confidence and Charisma to Win Over Any Audience, Doug Staneart, president & CEO, The Leaders Institute The Transitions product training course options included:
• Bright Side of Kidz, Christopher Lievens, OD, Anna Young, ABOC, Vision Care Consulting
• Myths and Misperceptions and the Future of Photochromic Technology; Laura Askew, new products project coordinator, R&D, Transitions Optical; Charlotte Hamel, associate director, global brand marketing, Transitions Optical; and Chris King, global marketing manager, Transitions Optical

After the final session of action planning, attendees reconvened once more in the evening to hear closing thoughts from Alves. Then, Drew Smith, director, North America channels, led Transitions Optical’s 2017 Transitions Innovation Awards program. The six category winners were as follows: 20/20 Visions was named Best in Training; Opto-RĂ©seau was named Best in Marketing; Greiche & Scaff was named Canada Retailer of the Year; Costco Optical was named US Retailer of the Year; Pacific Eye Care of Port Orchard was named Eyecare Practice of the Year; and Jennifer Lyerly, OD, Triangle Visions Optometry, was named the 2017 Transitions Brand Ambassador.


New Products

Quest Vision Specialty Care Offers Quadrifocal for Pilots

Quest Vision Care Specialty Lab, Inc. has announced the launch of their newest original lens, the Pilot Quatro.

The Pilot Quatro is a vocational lens for commercial pilots that require distance, near and two intermediate corrections: one intermediate power addition is calculated for the lower panel viewing distance and the second intermediate add power is designed for the above head panel viewing distance. Additionally, all four visual fields have yellow or green filter for increased contrast in dim cockpit lighting and hazy outside weather conditions.

The lens has a Chemistrie G15 clip that has the depth dimension equal to the distance vision field to provide sun protection and increase viewing comfort while it does not impair near or intermediate viewing fields for increased safety. The Pilot Quatro lens is a Quest original craft design produced using Luxexcel’s ground breaking 3D printer, an integral part of their VisionPlatform™. The 3D printing technology developed in 2009, is an additive fabrication process for 3D printing functional lenses enabling any ophthalmic lab to manufacture unique ophthalmic lenses.

Quest has several cutting-edge products in the R&D stages of development which they will be revealing in the coming year. Michael Walach, President and CEO of Quest Lab, said that he “felt confident with how our lens will be received by the flying industry” and was thrilled that “after many prototypes and preliminary trials, the finished product will provide versatility for thousands of pilots nation-wide.”


Brian Dunleavy, Editor, LabTalk/LabAdvisor

Brian is the Editor of LabTalk. He covers wholesale laboratories, lab systems, other ECP news and features/coverage. Contact Brian at [email protected].

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