When is customer satisfaction an optical illusion?

The tension between traditional high street brands and online retailers in the same category will only increase as economic challenges drive up bricks and mortar costs.

The market for eyewear is one segment where online sellers have already reduced the dominant position of long-established brands. Customer loyalty will only withstand a certain amount of price competition and, these days, we all feel the need to shop around. That’s why maintaining the highest standards of customer service is essential for any retailer wanting to protect market share in this highly contested category.

Metricomm’s analysis of online reviews for four optician brands – Specsavers, Vision Express, Pretavoir and Opticians Direct – reveals that online challenger brands are making inroads based not only on price, but on customer experience. The question is – how do retailers reassure themselves that their customer satisfaction levels have not become an optical illusion?

Traditional brand-tracking techniques are all well and good; but they don’t always provide consistent and up-to-date analysis of how a brand is faring compared to key competitors, especially in an online world where customer satisfaction can erode in the blink of an eye.

Online reviews, on the other hand, provide a continual and often detailed insight into whether customers are happy.  If a brand has the capability to analyse them regularly and extract the important trends and issues, they can confirm that overall customer experience is consistently market-leading, as it was for Pretavoir between December 2020 and July 2022. Or, that Opticians Direct is rated best for price and Vision Express outshines its high street competitor when it comes to staff.

Conversely, reviews serve as an early-warning system when things might be going off-kilter. Take Specsavers, a brand for which net positivity in online reviews is steady but trails the other three brands in the Metricomm analysis by some margin. The brand suffered a sharp decline in net positivity during Q4 2021. Sometimes, it isn’t product-related issues that cause such downwards trends. One of the issues that keeps cropping up in Specsavers reviews since Covid is customer disappointment that the company only pays statutory sick pay, obliging staff to work when unwell.

Reviews analysis allows brands to translate thousands of unstructured comments into tangible metrics that allow customer experience to be tracked frequently and cost-effectively. This way, the issues that make customers rage can be surfaced, addressed and measured instead of hiding in plain sight.

Our detailed comparison of reviews for Pretavoir, Vision Express, Specsavers and Opticians Direct is available by emailing hello@metricomm.com – or you can download a sample of the report using the link below.