Making a difference in the test room

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Making a difference is something you do every day: making sure people are able to see or hear better and thus helping them to live a better quality of life. However, sometimes we hear stories about people that are truly going the extra mile for their customers. This is a special story about Amelia Kendrick, an apprentice who works in a Specsavers’ store in Chorley, UK.

‘A young mum walked in to the store with her daughter. She wants the little girl to have an eye test, but it’s clear that the child is in distress. The mum, too, is close to tears. Her daughter has autism and visiting the opticians – an unknown and confusing environment – is terrifying. This is her seventh visit to an optician and she has yet to get past pre-test. Her mum is trying one last time before giving up. Her child’s torment is too much, and it outweighs the fear that her daughter might not be able to see clearly.

This is when a special young woman named Amelia enters the child’s life. Amelia hasn’t been at Specsavers for very long – in fact, she is one of the many apprentices. And she might be young, she might be inexperienced, she might not have grasped all the details of optics yet, but she sees a frightened child who needs help.

Amelia kneels down to the child’s level, and speaks softly to her. She asks her what her favorite thing in the whole world is. The little girl says: Frozen. That’s it. That’s as far as they get that day.

Her mum thanks Amelia for her efforts, but is ready to give up, anxious to save her child from any more distress. Undeterred, Amelia books the child in for a pre-test on another day, and reserves a test room to make it calmer and more private. It’s plainly the little girl’s last chance to have an eye exam.

The mother and child return and Amelia welcomes the girl into the test room. The girl’s eyes widen in wonder, as she sees that the room has been transformed into a princess’s palace from Frozen. Amelia has spent her own money to buy the decorations. She spent the evening before the appointment, without telling anyone, turning a plain-looking clinic into a grotto from a child’s dreams. The enchanted child sits through the test, chatting happily about Frozen.

And, yes, she does need glasses. And yes, she holds Amelia’s hand through the frame selection. Now, when someone asks the little girl what her favorite thing in the whole world is, she doesn’t say Frozen. Frozen comes second to glasses.’

This story was told by Specsavers’ joint group CEO John Perkins, during the Partner’s Seminar in Birmingham, as part of paying tribute to staff members who have gone above and beyond in serving customers. After finishing, he welcomed the shy apprentice on stage, and a spontaneous standing ovation occurred – there was not a dry eye in the house.

Specsavers’ standard operating procedure is not to redecorate test rooms in the theme of a Disney film to help customers feel more relaxed. Changing a 12 year old’s life for the better isn’t in the training manual. Amelia and her team did this, because of their passion to make a difference.

Have you ever gone the extra mile or know someone who did? Please tell us about it via greenclub@specsavers.com.

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