Stan's World - Customer Service Lives!Submitted by S. F. Ehrlich Associates, Inc. on May 14th, 2018
May 15, 2108
Brunner Opticians has been a landmark in Westfield for more than 75 years. When we first moved to Westfield, I was the proud owner of three pairs of new eyeglasses I couldn't use because the prescription was incorrect in all three. I looked for a local optometrist, found one at Brunner, and made an appointment to see if he could figure out what had gone wrong. He did a thorough eye examination, wondered why my previous prescription was changed, and voila, vision problem corrected.
Obviously, this became my optical facility of choice for eye examinations and eyeglasses, and I’ve never been disappointed. In fact, I once had a prescription filled - at considerable cost, as any eyeglass wearer can attest - and wasn’t completely comfortable with the prescription. The optician explained how they could adjust the lenses to become a combination computer and reading pair of glasses, and offered to redo them at no cost. Though they did nothing wrong, they just wanted to make sure I was completely satisfied.
Cut to a few weeks ago when I returned to Brunner to pick up a pair of sunglasses outfitted with a new prescription. I tried them on and knew right away that something was off. The glasses were returned to the company that Brunner uses for lenses and then sent back to Brunner a second time. It was still wrong. Rather than arguing with me, the Brunner optician spent about 30 minutes verifying why it was wrong, returned it for replacement, and stood by me until it was perfect.
While you may argue that ensuring my prescription is accurate is their job, compare my experience with Brunner to the polar opposite experience I had 11 years ago. The ophthalmologist who sold me those three pairs of glasses – made with his prescription – couldn’t figure out why I couldn’t use them. When I asked for my money back after countless visits, I was told “no.” When I appealed to my credit card company to rescind the payment until the problem was resolved, the ophthalmologist produced fine print so small that I could barely read the line that stated the glasses and lenses were mine without exception. (Of course I had trouble reading the small print; the prescription was wrong!)
My recent visit to Brunner resulted in a lively discussion about the lack of personal service and accountability in America. If I had purchased those glasses online, where would I have gone for help? Whom would I have called? Can you imagine having this dialogue with a call center operator? Even the offer of a refund wouldn’t help a customer obtain the correct prescription.
In the personal finance field, the analogy to online glasses is the robo-advisor. Similar to eyeglasses, when something goes wrong, whom do you call? Financial planning isn’t about buying a stock portfolio and then walking away for the next 40 years. Life gets in the way (a lot!), and the operator at the end of the robo-advisor’s toll-free number may not know you from, well, the caller he just finished speaking with. Financial planning is personal, and I hope it stays that way for decades to come.
As for Brunner, the two sisters who have owned the place for decades better have a plan in place to keep Brunner Opticians running well into the future.