Chad Walkaden   |   November 12, 2020

How Technology is Improving the Customer Experience at Dispensaries

Whether you want to retain a loyal customer in the recreational market, a medical patient, or to simply catch more of the curious newcomers, there is one area of your business that is most likely to determine if you can close the loop to retain the extremely valuable repeat customer.
Chad Walkaden is a Mental Health Expert, a Stage IV Cancer Survivor and a rising leader in the Medical Cannabis Industry.

Whether you want to retain a loyal customer in the recreational market, a medical patient, or to simply catch more of the curious newcomers, there is one area of your business that is most likely to determine if you can close the loop to retain the extremely valuable repeat customer. 

In answering this question, consider your own purchasing habits that include why the Starbucks barista calls your name when you buy a coffee, the reason your online Peloton teacher gives you a shout-out on your first lesson, and why the tech giants, including Apple & Amazon, have dedicated their mission to improve your experience in using their products and services. That's right, the experience your customers have in coming into your dispensary matters. 

Improving the experience means keeping happy and loyal customers 

A friendly, helpful, and knowledgeable budtender is someone you need to have on your team to improve the customer experience when you have customers that are looking for flower, oils or the latest edibles to hit your shelves. The reason this customer experience is so powerful comes back to two main reasons. If you have a happy and satisfied customer, not only are they going to bring you repeat business, but it is the most probable factor in creating a network effect within the community that can only result from your customers talking about their experience to their friends, family, and colleagues. As we all know, when it comes to buying products, nothing is more powerful than a recommendation from someone that you trust. 

However, the catch-22 with any discussion around the customer experience is the harsh reality that if not done well, your unhappy customer is going to tell just as many people and it will be extremely unlikely that you will ever see that business again. With that said, many dispensaries are now looking to leverage new and different technologies to solve this major problem.

Leveraging data to create an unforgettable customer experience

Typically, to the credit of many dispensaries, the exchange between the budtender and customer is positive. Most budtenders are friendly, engaging and have a solid understanding that assists the customer to make the right purchase based on what they’re looking for. Additionally, most successful dispensaries will likely have a rewards program available to entice their customers to feel good about remaining loyal to a particular dispensary. In many ways, these factors should be the minimum industry standard. However, in such a competitive space, dispensaries need to be doing more than just the minimum industry standard. If not, they run the risk of not leveraging the power of an unforgettable customer experience that excites customers and makes them want to talk positively about the dispensary to friends, or share their experience on social media. This network effect is the widespread, organic marketing that results from giving your customers a top-shelf customer experience.

In order for dispensaries to deepen their existing customer relationships, it boils down to how well they provide additional support and service after a customer has transacted and completed their purchase. In today’s world, customers are accustomed to receiving Spotify or YouTube recommendations, as well as a social media newsfeed that is tailored to their interests. For dispensaries, providing customers with tailored support is a critical element of relationship building.  

"The most important piece of the puzzle to improve customer experiences in cannabis dispensaries is having a system in place to collect, track, monitor, and respond to customer feedback," says Jason Cragholm, founder of QualSCORE, a customer feedback, brand research and reputation management software for the cannabis industry. "If you don't have a process in place to learn from your customers, you can't effectively respond to problems and seize opportunities, and you'll never know if the customer experiences you provide are creating happy customers. Ideally, much of the process should be automated so it becomes a fundamental part of your business processes that is built into your company culture." 

It is no longer acceptable for a bot to repeat the same thing to every single customer a dispensary has. However, what if there was someone on the other end of the customer messaging system. What if there was an actual human budtender interacting with customers after they’ve made their purchase? What if the same budtender who knows a customer’s preferences sends them personalized messages when their favorite strains are discounted, continuously helps them pick and choose the right consumption methods, cultivars, and dosage, even after they’ve left the dispensary? 

All this sounds awfully close to a truly personalized approach that goes way beyond a Starbucks barista calling your name when your coffee is ready. The interesting thing is that this is the new level of what it means to have an extraordinary customer experience in a dispensary. All of this is possible by simply collecting reliable data by using technologies that assist budtenders in making informed, accurate and helpful suggestions that give customers an optimal experience. 

Author Bio:

Chad Walkaden is a Mental Health Expert, a Stage IV Cancer Survivor and a rising leader in the Medical Cannabis Industry.

During a life-changing four years, Chad faced and overcame a Stage IV Terminal Cancer on three separate occasions while at the same time simultaneously supporting his mother with a Stage 3 Bowel Cancer.

Driven by a passion to legitimize cannabis into healthcare, he founded the tech company, OnTracka, that is quickly being recognized as the technology to revolutionize patient care & collect the real-world-evidence that is necessary to accelerate the growth of the cannabis industry to support more patients. 

Chad's work has been globally recognized with his findings published in Discoveries Journals, the Journal of Gastroenterology, Hepatology & Digestive Disorders and he was invited to talk about his cancer model, The Cancer Blueprint at 26th Annual Congress into Cancer Science and Targeted Therapies. Also, since starting OnTracka, the New South Wales Government of Australia has formally supported the company to help establish a legal framework for cannabis across the country. 

 

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