Relationship Marketing at the B2B and B2C Level Drives Loyalty for Pearle Vision (Free to Read)
Optometrists and other eyecare professionals have a very important relationship with their patients. However, they can sometimes be more concerned about operating their business versus training their frontline staff.
Pearle Vision recognizes the importance of this doctor-patient relationship as a key to building loyalty for the brand. Loyalty360 caught up with Doug Zarkin, CMO of Pearle Vision, to discuss the constructs of both the B2B and B2C relationship.
Do you help the optometrists train their frontline and support staff?
Zarkin: We have to help them understand that when they bring a staff member on what they are bringing in is an extension of their individual expression of genuine eyecare. As a neighborhood-driven business, the strength in our platform is our ability to deliver genuine eyecare at the neighborhood level with experts that own their business and that care about the communities that they work in because they live in them.
We were just named the No. 24 franchise business in the country by Entrepreneur Magazine in their top 500 list. It’s the highest rating the brand has ever had, and it’s an amazing reflection of the Pearle Vision enhanced value proposition. We’re in the top four percent of all franchise opportunities, and that includes McDonald’s, 7-Eleven; the big behemoths.
One of the key factors that drive that ranking is brand strength. Brand strength isn’t just about marketing it’s about the three-dimensional tactile representation of your brand, which is your EyeCare center, your operations team, and your associate. The living breathing embodiment of your brand’s positioning is your staff.
How has the CRM Program evolved?
Zarkin: We’re really in year two, two-and-a-half, of our CRM program. What we’ve realized is that CRM isn’t just about driving things incrementality. It’s about driving relationships.
The majority of CRM at Pearle Vision is really about reminding that person that they have established a trust or bond with the brand. So, sending somebody eye care tips, yes, that reminds them that they need to care for their eyes and care for their eyes at Pearle, but it’s demonstrating that we’re in it for them as a care-based partner. Celebrating their birthday; you’re more than just a number on an exam schedule. You mean something to us. We’re sending them exam reminders, or calling them up to confirm their exams. We offer free cleanings and adjustments because let’s face it; glasses are something you take on and off your face every day. They get dinged and damaged, and you can bring them into Pearle and we’ll fix them.
Do you see a correlation between those who kind of take advantage of those inexpensive ancillary services, those high-touch services like the cleanings and the adjustments? Are those individuals more likely to remain loyal and to buy that next set of glasses from you?
Zarkin: I think it is fair to say that the more somebody interacts with Pearle, whether that’s through engaging either in our email outreach or in our snail mail direct-mail campaigns, or visitations to the EyeCare center between exam cycles, there is a natural strengthening of that relationship and the bond between our doctors, our associates, and our consumer.
What is the opportunity or the challenge around personalization?
Zarkin: Personalization is a general term that gets thrown around a lot, and I think the first challenge is defining what personalization means. It means very different things to very different organizations. At Pearle Vision, it begins and ends with caring about people and treating each individual as a person. And that means that while there are rules, standards, and guidelines that our associates follow, and that our licensed operators adhere to as part of Pearle Vision, every person is unique, and every person’s situation is different. Our business model facilitates our associates making judgment calls to ensure that their patient leaves satisfied and received an amazing patient experience.
If an EyeCare center manager is starting to see that his or her book is getting filled weekend after weekend, that there just are no more exam slots open, that manager has a team to reach out to and can say “listen, here is the data that tells me I need to extend my hours. Can you help me?” If somebody brings in a pair of glasses that’s really dinged up that can’t be fixed, our licensed operators maintain the flexibility in their business model to accommodate those needs. Yes, we stand behind our product. Yes, we stand behind the frames and the lenses that we deliver to our consumers. That’s great, but that’s not a service promise that’s a warranty. Our service promise is that we’re going to treat you as a person. That to me is the service promise.
What about the way employees interact with customers?
Zarkin: There is no true handbook for how to deal with people. It just requires somebody realizing that when somebody walks through the doors of our EyeCare center they’re a patient whether they have an outside prescription or not, they’re a patient. We say that because a patient denotes a higher level of care.
Do we do it right every time? No, we’re not perfect, and that’s why I do what I do and you do what you do because there’s always a pathway to deliver a better patient experience. But at the heart of it, we really try hard. There are effort and outcome. We’re putting more and more effort towards the idea that our people care, and we believe the outcome of that is going to be not only loyalty but growth.

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