More states are legalizing cannabis every year for either medical or recreational use, creating the need for a new type of customer experience. There are many legal hoops to jump through even in recreational states, but you don’t want your customers to feel like they’re in a circus act.
Even if your team is sweating it behind the scenes, to the customer, it should feel almost as simple as walking into the grocery store to purchase a pint of ice cream. Here are some tips and tricks to help you create the perfect cannabis customer experience, regardless of where you’re located.
Don’t Skimp on the Aesthetic
When most people think of dispensaries, they probably think of old-school head shops, where everything had Bob Marley’s face on it and the whole store smelled of incense. While this might have worked in the past, it’s not the best way to create a cannabis customer experience that will keep them coming back. Clean lines, good lighting and an open floorplan are all tools you have at your disposal to make your customers comfortable.
This is essential for clients who might be buying cannabis for the first time — they’re not always going to know what they want, and a welcoming storefront is more likely to draw them in than a dark, kitschy-looking shop. Even if recreational use is legal in your state, not everyone is going to be comfortable walking into a dispensary, especially if it looks like you’ve rolled every stoner stereotype into your storefront.
Remember the Importance of Marketing
A dispensary is no different than any other business, and that means you’ll need to remember the importance of marketing. It’s a little more difficult for dispensaries to market using traditional methods due to marijuana advertising regulations but that doesn’t mean that you need to rely solely on word of mouth to bring people into your business.
Create an online presence, especially on social media, so you can interact with customers. Remember to remain professional, especially in social media interactions. 420 sales and jokes about the munchies can be great market tools in certain situations, but at the same time, you want to present yourself as a professional business, not as the neighborhood dealer.
Train Your Team Well
Creating an all-star team of budtenders or customer service representatives isn’t just a tool — it’s a necessity. These employees serve as the first point of contact within your store, and if they aren’t well trained or well informed, it could make or break the customer’s experience.
Training should be your highest priority. In 2016, only 55% of dispensary staff had any formal training for their role, and only 20-30% of those had any medical training. Despite this, nearly all of them were recommending cannabis strains to customers who might not even know what they’re asking for.
Take the time to train your team well. Don’t be the kind of company that doesn’t invest in training. It might cost you a bit, but it will be worth every single penny you put into it when you’ve got happy customers coming back through your doors each time they need to purchase more cannabis.
Take Steps to Streamline Their Experience
Not everyone likes to go shopping, especially if it’s going to take them all afternoon to pick up a handful of things because of poorly designed customer experiences. Take the time to figure out how to streamline their entire experience from beginning to end.
Regardless of your personal feelings on Amazon, you can look to their successful model for a little inspiration. The retail giant has streamlined customer service experience down to a science. For example, customers looking for a specific color of shirt don’t have to sort through different styles, each with their own color wheel and sizing chart. All they need to do is search for that specific color and it will be pre-selected on all the search results.
Many of your customers won’t have the slightest clue what they’re looking for when they walk through your doors, especially if legalization is a new event in your state. Take the time to streamline their experience — implement a way to figure out exactly what they want, whether that’s a strain to help with their chronic pain or just something to get high, in the recreational states.
Be Patient but Persistent
Creating the perfect cannabis customer service experience isn’t something that is going to happen overnight. Be patient as you try new things, train new employees and develop new skills. On top of everything else, make sure you’re persistent. It may not happen overnight but it won’t happen at all if you aren’t pushing the company forward with every new trial and technique.
Cannabis sales are growing as more states continue to legalize it for both medical and recreational use. Creating the perfect customer sales experience in the cannabis industry will help to set you apart and help your company thrive in the years to come.