Pearle Vision Customer LoyaltyDoug Zarkin, VP, Head of Marketing, Pearle Vision, believes the company’s iconic stature and focus on customer loyalty is clear.

Zarkin talked to Loyalty360 about the company’s customer loyalty/CX efforts, listening, metrics, and social media in a compelling interview.

Can you talk about Pearle Vision’s efforts around CX, customer loyalty, and customer engagement and how they have changed and/or progressed in recent years?

Two years ago, we launched The Neighborhood Eye Care Experience, which is the foundation of principles and pillars that we as a brand want to stand for in the consumer experience. We’ve since followed it up with a similar program aimed at the exam experience and in the coming months we will continue to refine and develop tools to ensure that we deliver that amazing patient experience that Dr. Pearle envisioned when he started this brand in 1961. It’s his legacy that we honor today with every Eye Care Center that carries his name.

How important is listening to your customers and how do you leverage those insights for any of your CX/customer loyalty/customer engagement initiatives?

I view this as oxygen for a brand. Without a cross functional commitment to actively listen to your consumers (in our case patients), a brand cannot survive ... nevertheless thrive. We leverage NPS, reviews, and comments on Yelp and Facebook as sources of input. We use theses a data points to help us remain intellectually honest about where we can and should look to invest. Operations, Marketing, Training, Product ... all legs of the brand actively taking this input and together working to strengthen this iconic brand.

What trends do you see or foresee related to digital customer engagement?

Back to the future: NPS and technological innovation that allow brands to engage with consumers is fantastic. Yet, it at times can be overwhelming. I see marketers and brand looking to balance out this newness with a move back to focus groups, shopper intercepts and fundamental active listening 1-to-1 with your operators, consumers and brand constituents 

What does customer experience mean to you / your organization?

It means everything! Our patient experience and the way in which we treat everyone like a patient even if they have an updated RX (and don't need an exam) is one of the most critical ways we distinguish ourselves from the competition in the optical retail space. Our people and the way in which we guide our patients thru the exam and retail experience is what we refer to as the Neighborhood Eye Care Experience. 

There a lot of metrics, studies, benchmarks in the market around CX. What are the ways you measure that have led to such great success?

Net Promoter Score, 1-year and 2-year retention rate, and, of course, patient count are all ways in which consumer let us know how we are doing. At Pearle Vision, we are a Licensed Operator-owned brand, so our OD and Optician Owners are themselves another source of feedback. 

What does (customer-centric culture, customer insights, employee engagement, measurement, technology, brand messaging) mean to the bigger CX efforts you are focused on?

At Pearle Vision, the how is as important as the what. By that I mean that our training and efforts to ensure that every patient has an amazing patient experience drives our brand, drives our innovation and in the end drives the profitability for our Licensed Operators. 

We hear a good deal about alignment within the organization to increase the efficacy / impact of the CX efforts and that successful organizations are “committed” to such efforts. In your opinion, what does this commitment mean to you?

It means putting the patient first. Using the simplicity of “what does this mean/benefit/offer from the patient perspective” to help direct where and how we determine to invest and innovate 

There is a lot of talk about new media (social) and how it can increase impact. How is social media being used differently today than a year ago, and how do you see it changing over the next year?

A major focus of mine when I joined PV in 2012 was to build the social footprint. From 3,000 followers in 2012 when I got here, now we are approaching 400,000 loyal followers, and with it, an Pearle Visions Customer Loyaltyawesome responsibility to inform, entertain, reward and of course ... listen!

What are the challenges you face with data, analytics, and creating insight today and how has that changed over the past 18 months?

No shortage of data, but with any data it starts with ensuring you are asking the right questions and in the end using data for good not for evil. Data, for it to be meaningful, needs to be used as a source of input, critical of course, but not as a replacement for actively listening to your consumer face to face---getting out into our EyeCare Centers, meeting our patients, leaning into the legacy of our long term Licensed Operators are essential.

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