Comic artist Rob Bidder works at the Wellcome Collection in London and publishes his work on their website. As part of his series Body Squabbles, he created a piece called Glass which starts with the phrase “Glass Is A Revealer Of Hidden Realities”. Today, I went to an optician to have my sight checked, and I finally understood what Rob meant. After trying different lenses during the eye test, a reality that was hidden for me was suddenly revealed. Not only could I read better, but I could also see with my own eyes how having a good customer service makes all the difference in the world.
I have been trying to get my sight checked for months, but every time I tried to make an appointment, something didn’t work out. At first, I thought that I would go to one of those cheap high street opticians because I’ve never worn glasses before and just have my eyes checked to see how bad the situation was. I tried to make an appointment three times in three different shops, but for some reason or another, I was never able to.
The first shop that came out on my online search was one of those that has a name which implies that with them you will be saving money. I made the appointment online, which seemed easy and straightforward, but a few days before the appointment, they called me to tell me that they didn’t have availability for that day. I asked the person on the other side of the phone how come the website let me make the appointment, and they said that the calendar on the website is just for me to suggest a date when I’m available, but they still need to call the client to confirm if the date is truly available or not. They wanted to give me an appointment for a month after the date I had requested, but I declined. I’d instead go somewhere else.
The second one that came on my search was from that chain that has a name which implies that with them your lenses will be made quickly. I made the appointment online, also an effortless and straightforward experience, and I received an email confirmation. A week later, on the day of the appointment, I showed up in the shop, but they couldn’t find my name in their appointments system. I showed them the email that the website had sent me and they said that even if I received an email, I still needed to receive a phone call confirming the date. Imagine my disgust.
The third one on my search was one of those that belong to a big chain of pharmacies in the UK. I checked on the website if they took walk-ins and went to the nearest one. But, to my surprise, the clerk asked me if I had made an appointment and when I said that I hadn’t because on the website it stated that they took walk-ins he said that even if that was true, all the time slots were taken for that day. The only thing that he could offer me was an appointment for a week from that date.
I was livid. I couldn’t believe that in 2019 and in a city like London it would be so frustrating to have your sight checked. My reaction was to postpone my eye test for a future when high street opticians got their act together. However, the next day, my friend came over to visit, and when I realized that she wore glasses, I asked where did she have them done. She said that she goes to an independent optician who’s not cheap, but she feels that they treat her like royalty. At that point, I didn’t care anymore about the money. I just wanted to feel that I was giving it to someone worthy of it.
A few days later, I went to said optician’s website and found out that they didn’t take appointments online, only over the phone (who uses a phone these days?!), they cost three times more than the high street shops, and they are located 45 minutes away on the train from where I live. At any other point of my life, this information would have made me not even consider them for a second but, after all that I had been through, I felt like I had no choice. I rang them, I made the appointment, and today I had my sight checked and ordered my new glasses.
The shop was small and lovely, the staff went the extra mile to make me feel welcomed, and they took all the time and had all the patience in the world to help me select the frames. Most importantly, they made me feel like to them it really mattered that I was satisfied with the experience. When it was time to pay, and I saw the big figure, I honestly didn’t care about all the money that I was spending there because they really deserve it.
This whole experience made me think about my photography business and how tough the competition is in London. There is always a new photographer starting out every day, and some of them are charging a third or less than the rest of us for a job that could be considered almost as good. That is why, when I talk about my work to potential clients, I don’t talk about my style (anyone can do what I do) nor about my rates (there are plenty of cheaper photographers). I talk about myself and my ethos, and I let my personality be the unique selling point.
Think about the last time when a supplier made you feel special. Don’t you want that same experience for your clients as well?
Photo credit: Sabrina Carder © 2017 JC Candanedo.
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