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The cannabis industry is booming. With business going so well, especially where weed is legal, it's easy to focus on profit and sales - we get it. But there is so much more to a good business than just sales numbers. Customer service is what makes a business stand out, and it's what creates a loyal customer base and long-term, meaningful relationships. In the end, customer service is good for your business, the customer, and the community as a whole - and here's why.
If your employees provide a genuine, knowledgeable experience for your customers, they will be more likely to come back. Customer service drives customer loyalty, which subsequently provides your company with a lot more revenue and the cheapest types of continued marketing. By simply being friendly and knowledgeable, your staff can help you achieve success as a local cannabis business.
One of the most influential parts of a customer's decision-making process is online reviews, especially Google reviews. According to research, 72% of consumers claim that they trust a local business more if it has an overall positive Google review. Other research shows that roughly 80% of consumers will not trust businesses that have Google ratings below 4.0 and that almost 95% of shoppers use online reviews to make purchasing decisions. The most important aspect of a positive experience for customers is almost always customer service. If you have solid customer service, your customers will be happier, which leads to better online reviews, which leads to more store traffic and higher profits. Customers can also turn to platforms like Where's Weed to leave positive reviews for other potential consumers to see and thus influence the purchase decision.
Since customers are most likely to appreciate customer service, and they are more likely to promote a business if they've had a positive experience, then it makes sense that positive customer service will drive organic word-of-mouth marketing. Especially as a local business, one of the best things a dispensary can achieve is a loyal customer base that promotes your business to friends and family. It's free marketing and is especially effective when you grow a community of loyal customers.
Let's tie all of this back to the bread-and-butter of any retail business: sales. According to research related to Harvard's "service profit chain" concept, a simple 5% increase in customer loyalty can increase a store's profits anywhere from 25% to 85%. According to most marketing research, there is an immediate correlation between value, profits, customer loyalty, and employee satisfaction. The more satisfied your employees and the customers are (this is achieved through all-around positive interaction and quality value), the higher your profit margins will be.
As a cannabis business, you have the chance to make a positive impact on your community, help promote a knowledgeable cannabis culture and be part of the larger community picture. By providing solid customer service and friendly experience, dispensaries can help their locales learn to trust the cannabis industry while also bringing diversity and proper cannabis-knowledge to a community. Dispensaries are, by nature, local businesses - so they, by nature, are responsible for providing value to those communities.
A positive customer experience starts with a friendly staff. When you're interviewing applicants, consider their manner and how easy they are to talk to. Hire respectful individuals that are excited to be in a customer-facing role. It's also smart to hire people that are truly excited about the cannabis industry and its community - if your employees are friendly and excited about what they're talking about all day, it's a win-win for you, your staff, and your customers.
One of the easiest ways to create a positive experience for both your customer and your staff is to hire a diverse group of employees. Diversity is key to so many things, including creativity and teamwork. If you can create an energetic, diverse team that can better represent the community you serve, your customers will notice.
Make sure your staff knows what they're talking about. They should know the details of what you sell and why it's relevant to your customers. Put on training classes for your entire staff, so everyone is on the same page about what you offer. Incentivize extra learning about the cannabis industry, the local community, and your store's brand and story. The more your staff knows about the ins-and-outs of your business, the better it is for customer service and the quality of your dispensary.
Like so many other industries, customers visiting your dispensary will be much more likely to buy your product if they know you're knowledgeable about what you're selling. Once your staff members are properly educated on the products you offer, make sure they can appropriately share that knowledge with your customers. Make education through Q&A a standard aspect of your dispensary's customer interactions. If you want to go the extra mile, create a blog to have information readily available on your website, that way your employees have an updated source of information and a place to send customers for additional literature.
Provide training to your staff that highlights best practices for customer interaction. Promote positive demeanor and verbiage, underscore the need to ask questions and be genuinely interested in each customer's needs and make sure everyone knows that customers' needs come before sales. By simply asking questions and making the experience about the customer, your staff will become part of an exponentially friendlier brand.
Going back to the "service profit chain" concept, your employees are much more likely to treat customers well if they are satisfied. An employee that feels like a meaningful part of the team is way more likely to be positive throughout their shift and care about the work they are doing (and the people they are serving). All in all, your brand is more than the product you sell - it's the way you sell it, how you provide it, and what ideas, relationships, and emotions you promote.
There are already so many dispensaries out there with fantastic customer service. Just read reviews online - you'll be able to tell which stores are doing it right. If you've had great interactions with a certain business, or if you're a business that prides itself on customer service, leave a comment about your experiences!