Interview with Heinrich Raub, ZEISS Experience
“I’ve come to realize that, sometimes, consumers have no idea what an ECP actually does,” says top optometrist Heinrich Raub, who has been working at ZEISS Vision Care for 28 years. Many consumers see an ECP appointment as a cross between a shopping trip and a visit to the doctor. They look through a store window and think “What great frames!” So they step inside and select a pair. And that’s important – after all, it’s one of the first things people notice about you. Then come the more medical-type tests. Subjective refraction (known among consumers as the “vision test” or eye exam) is something many people understand intuitively. But what patients often don’t realize is that there’s a whole series of additional steps – until they’re explained, that is. Consumers have many different questions they’d like answers to. “What are all these devices for? What’s going to happen to me? What lens options are available? How much is all of this going to cost? What extras do I really need?” says Raub.
“Here at ZEISS, we asked ourselves how we can improve the process: how we can lead consumers through the different steps instore while at the same time sharing a lot of key information with them,” continues Raub. After all, only consumers who are in the know will be able to make informed decisions. All of these considerations gave rise to the ZEISS Vision Analysis, a process that describes how to optimize ECP-led consultations – and it doesn’t normally begin with the consumer selecting a pair of frames. “Before I can step in as an ECP, before I can even begin trying to sell a product, I have to get to know my customer. What’s a typical day like for them? Do they spend a lot of time driving? What’s their job? Have they been having any problems with their vision?“ The Visual Needs Analysis is essential for helping an ECP determine which of the many lens products can be considered for a particular customer. A ZEISS Vision Analysis booklet explaining the key information has been created for consumers to take home with them.
The ZEISS Vision Analysis comprises a series of defined steps that explain the process to consumers in an easy-to-digest way, e.g. as a booklet.
The first step is known as the (1) Visual Needs Analysis: What are the patient’s individual (visual) habits and requirements? What do the glasses need to offer?
Next comes the (2) Precise Eye Map. The ECP uses the ZEISS i.Profiler to perform much more than just objective refraction based on state-of-the-art wavefront technology.
An (3) Eye Health Check is then performed to check the functionality of the eyes, and the results are documented.
The next step involves subjective refraction, which is done via a (4) Visual Performance Analysis.
Only then is it time for the (5) Frame Selection, ...
... after which the (6) Lenses are adjusted to fit the shape of the face.
The ideal lenses are then determined in a (7) Customized Lens Solution step.
The final step is (8) Glasses Collection, an important part of the process for consumers.
But can we really explain every single step to the consumers? Raub is certain that we can. Many ECPs may initially be reluctant to explain concepts such as objective refraction. “It’s actually quite simple: it’s about measuring the eyes. This helps us create an optical map. However, that won’t tell us everything we need to know about how well a person can see with both eyes. Additional steps must be performed, including the visual performance analysis,” says Raub. This openness will enable the consumer to make an informed decision. They will feel like they’ve received good advice and learned something new. “This will also allow the ECP to demonstrate the importance of quality and precision, especially in terms of centration. Small defects and inaccuracies would compromise even the best lens. It’s great to be able to explain all this,” says Raub. It also underlines how important it is to have a good pair of glasses.
The sequence of the steps has also been carefully thought out. “The visual performance analysis determines the frame selection – it’s a case of form following function,” says Raub. There’s no doubt that many consumers love selecting a new pair of frames – and this is usually the first thing they do. “That’s all well and good, but as an ECP I know that not every pair of frames will work with every visual impairment, which is why is makes sense to examine the eyes first.” The selected frames can be put aside and brought out again later. The visual performance analysis requires a delicate touch. A lot of questions then start going through consumers’ heads: Are there any wrong answers here? I don’t know what’s better or worse. This is all happening too fast! If they’re told that it’s actually about 3D vision, that there’s no right or wrong answer, etc., then they’ll feel better about the entire process. They’ll feel safer and like they’re taken seriously – so the ECP appears professional at all times. “ZEISS VISUCONSULT 500 is used to predetermine the steps of the ZEISS Vision Analysis. This does of course create a sound basis for consistently high quality, no matter which employee is delivering the consultation and taking the measurements,” says Raub.
Consumers who want to prepare for their visit to the ECP and find out more about their options are invited to use the ZEISS My Vision Profile. This is an award-winning, browser-based online app that is a preliminary step in the visual needs analysis. Consumers can create their own vision profile whether they’re at home or on the go, and will realize that choosing the right lenses involves much more than just a simple eye test. In the app, consumers answer a series of questions about their daily routine and visual habits. At the end, a QR code will appear alongside initial eyeglass lens recommendations. The ECP then scans the QR code instore and can use the information from the ZEISS My Vision Profile to perform the next steps of the visual needs analysis.
All of this will help create a consistent image. “The ZEISS Vision Analysis must be performed at the ZEISS Vision Center,” says Raub. “There are of course differences from one country to the next – for instance, not all ECPs are authorized to perform refraction.” At the end of the day, it’s about an overall concept, a key idea: product quality should also be reflected in the quality of the consultation and the environment in which it is provided. One part of the concept is that, at the end of the first visit, the consumer will receive a booklet that lists all the different steps. This way, they’ll be taking something home that they can also share with their friends and family, or recommend to others.
There are great benefits for ECPs: after an in-depth consultation, informed consumers will know that no one pair of glasses will be suitable for all situations. Unlike everyday specs, sunglasses provide glare protection; computer glasses are optimized in line with the distance between the wearer and the screen, but not for driving; sailors need polarized lenses, etc. This creates opportunities for the ECP to upsell. Finally, the consumer always decides what needs they want their lenses to meet. They must also be aware of the options that are available. Even if pricing structures are openly discussed, one thing is clear: while additional benefits do cost more, consumers can ultimately decide which ones they really want. At the end of the day, they’re the ones who decide what options are right for them. And consumers who feel happy with their consultations and the end result are the ones who end up coming back.