News in ophthalmology : James Mazzo makes his mark with move to Carl Zeiss
James Mazzo makes his mark with move to Carl Zeiss
It’s all about customer service, says new Global President Ophthalmic Devices at Zeiss
Since beginning his career in ophthalmic products at Allergan 36 years ago, James Mazzo always respected Carl Zeiss Meditec (CZM) as a technology leader. So when CZM Supervisory Board Chairman Michael Kaschke PhD asked him to lead its newly consolidated global ophthalmic business this summer, Mazzo was more than ready.
If anything, Zeiss looks better from the inside, James Mazzo told EuroTimes. “Now that I’m part of the team, I get to see behind the doors and I’m overwhelmed by how impressive the technology is. When you look at Zeiss technology, it’s top notch. It’s the best of anything I have ever seen,” he said.
Coming from the man who built Advanced Medical Optics into the top refractive player worldwide, largely on the strength of technology following its 2002 spin-off from Allergan, that is high praise indeed.
After leaving AMO in 2013, four years after its acquisition and name change by Abbott, James Mazzo further burnished his tech development street cred as CEO of AcuFocus, where he shepherded the revolutionary Kamra small aperture corneal inlay for presbyopia to FDA approval. He is also executive chairman of Neurotech Pharmaceuticals, a biotech firm developing sight-saving therapies for a broad range of eye diseases.
If there’s a soft spot at Zeiss, it’s unfocused customer service, James Mazzo said. “I would rather have weak service and great technology because I can fix the service easier than I can fix the technology. It’s a nice problem to have.”
Historically, CZM’s sales and service have largely followed its products, a division of effort reflected in the firm’s long-time organisation into three separate ophthalmic business units. However, this previous structure was not aligned with customer needs, he said.
“We have a great diagnostic portfolio, a great cataract portfolio and a great refractive portfolio, but the retina specialist is the cataract surgeon is the refractive surgeon. The same customer may use many of the same products and the customer doesn’t care how the company is organised,” he added.
At least they don’t care until they need service for both their Zeiss OCT machine and their Zeiss surgical microscope – and have to cope with not one but two service centres, two contacts, two phone mail systems… “We need to make it less complicated to deal with Zeiss,” he said. Every salesperson and customer service representative should know the entire product line well enough to help the customer or put the customer in contact with someone who can help.
And when you call Zeiss, someone should answer the phone and make it their business to take care of you, he said. “When you go to the store and buy a suit, a tie and a shirt, you don’t want to have to go to three different people. We all remember where we’ve had great service, and if the products are good too – and ours are the best – it’s a winning combination.”
BUILDING A WINNER
Delivering integrated service requires an integrated company, and that’s why CZM has consolidated its three ophthalmic business units – ophthalmic diagnostics, surgical ophthalmology and refractive lasers – into one global ophthalmic device unit, led by James Mazzo. He’s also hired Andrew Ihan Chang away from rival Bausch + Lomb as his global head of sales.
It all comes down to efficiency, Jams Mazzo said. “Doctors are required to be more and more efficient all the time. Anything we can do to make them more efficient helps.”
That applies to ophthalmic office staff as well, he added. “If we can make an invoice easier to understand we can save them a phone call and some time.”
Indeed, efficiency commands such a premium that he believes it’s the reason femtosecond laser-assisted cataract surgery (FLACS) has yet to take off. “We all thought femto would revolutionise cataract surgery. It really hasn’t, and it’s not because it’s expensive. I believe it’s because it makes surgeons a little bit slower right now, and that’s a problem,” he said.
He believes FLACS has legs, and will be a runner when it’s better integrated into the surgical workflow, perhaps by incorporating it with the surgical microscope.
“If you are going to introduce a product it has to make you more efficient,” he said. Zeiss has the expertise, long-term management commitment and capital resources to pull it off, even if it takes years.
James Mazzo also believes in professional education, and has hired Steven C Schallhorn MD as CZM’s new Chief Medical Officer. Dr Schallhorn’s extensive experience as a researcher, clinician, device developer and professor will help Zeiss partner with clinicians and academics to improve clinical outcomes.
Pushing customer service one step further, James Mazzo sees improving the patient experience as another key to success. He is planning education programmes on this.
He is committed to working with other firms to advance the industry’s common interests. Yet he sees Zeiss grabbing a bigger share of the global ophthalmic market – and soon.
“We have the broadest product technology portfolio across all the industry spaces and we sit here at No 4. Now the competitiveness comes out in me and we’re going to move that.