What is an Optical Assistant?

An optical assistant is a very important member of the vision care profession. The work of an optical assistant is defined by more than just a job title. While the job duties require providing assistance, there are other tasks that are more independent in nature. In many vision care centers and optometrist offices, an optical assistant is the first person a customer encounters. This can set the tone for the entire experience. It also introduces the first phase of being an optical assistant.

The Importance of Customer Service as an Optical Assistant

Customer service is an important part of the job as optical assistants need to have effective communication and people skills. This starts with greeting customers upon their arrival. Optical assistants are expected to be both courteous and knowledgeable. Some customers are very inquisitive and being able to provide them with accurate and insightful answers contributes to a positive overall experience. This requires optical assistants to have an adequate amount of industry knowledge.

Customer service does not stop with face-to face interactions. Optical assistants also deal with customers over the phone. Setting appointments and making follow-up calls are two more job tasks that are conducted on a regular basis. In many vision care centers, customers become very familiar with optical assistants. This can create a sense of trust and comfort which helps tremendously with repeat business and word of mouth referrals.

There are also more technical aspects of customer service. New patients need to be pre-screened before seeing an optometrist or ophthalmologist. An optical assistant responds to this need by creating a file for the patient and taking down their history. This involves asking questions about any current or pre-existing conditions. Here is where the knowledge component factors once again.

Optical assistants continue to show off their knowledge by taking measurements for customers. These measurements are used for corrective lens, which makes precision very important. There are specific approaches to take when obtaining these measurements and a wrong calculation could hinder the entire experience. That has placed a fair amount of responsibility in the hands of optical assistants.

The customer service experience is placed back in the hands of an optical assistant after customers meet with an optometrist or ophthalmologist. Most times, customers will return to the main area of the vision care center, where they will once again require the help of an optical assistant. This is typically the time for fitting customers with frames or corrective lenses. Since there an abundance to choose from, many customers rely on the expertise of an optical assistant. Once more, an optical assistant must rely on his/her knowledge of the industry.

In this line of work, customer satisfaction is very important. That is why optical assistants work with customers until they find the eyewear that is right for them. Expert advice on using and caring for eyewear is also provided. Optical assistants are basically someone for customers to lean on for advice and insight throughout their entire vision care experience.

Optical Assistants Staying up on Trends

Styles and trends are forever changing and that also applies to eyewear. For that reason, optical assistants are expected to keep up with all the changes and advances in eyewear. They are often the ones that have to explain the functionality and look of eyewear to customers. Therefore, the education of an optical assistant is continual and allows them to stay updated on everything new in the industry.

There may also be some parts of the job that call for optical assistants to be firm while maintaining a friendly approach. Calling customers about billing issues is not always a welcomed task, but one that falls on the shoulders of an optical assistant. Making billing arrangements can be done with a quick phone call, but it often takes the right demeanor to accomplish that task.

In most vision care centers, an optical assistant is the last person a customer sees before leaving. That means optical assistants have the chance to make the first and last impression on behalf of the entire vision care center. That could impact the overall opinion of the business, as well as the optometrist or ophthalmologist. Hiring the right optical assistant can create more business while hiring poor optical assistants may drive customers away. In a sense, optical assistants assist in the success of a vision care center.

Characteristics of Optical Assistants

There are common characteristics found in successful optical assistants. They are approachable, courteous, accommodating and knowledgeable. And while many work in a retail setting, their job function differs immensely from those who work in other types of retail.

Optical assistants do not just assist in the sale of eyewear. They effectively sell the vision care center. It is their service and job performance that weighs heavily into the reputation of a vision care center. And the responsibilities of an optical assistant effectively make them one of the major selling points of a vision care center.