Service Is the Key to Customer Care: 4 Experts Share Their Top Tips

Seven Point Dispensary staff mg Magazine June 2018
Seven Point Dispensary staff

From dealing with difficult customers to attracting and retaining new ones, your level of customer care is a crucial component of your shop’s success. Here, 4 experts share their tips on staffing, avoiding social media snafus, and more.

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David Harris, director of sales & marketing, Planet 13

How do you deal with upset customers? When speaking with upset customers, it is important to read both the severity of the situation and level of frustration. If the frustration level is at its peak, it’s best to have a manager get involved. The first step is always to listen to the customer and understand the situation. After listening and understanding what has occurred, management is better suited to resolve the situation. It’s very important to ensure the customer leaves the facility happy with their experience.

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It’s also wise, afterwards, to understand how issues occurred so they never happen again.

All customers are different. It’s key to understand you will be catering to all types of customers with all kinds of personalities and experience with cannabis. But no matter who the customer is, always encourage feedback about how their customer experience was. In the end, it’s vital for all employees to learn from their experiences and continue to improve. —David Harris, director of sales and marketing, Planet 13

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Dee Azure, operations manager, Smokin Gun Apothecary

How do demographics play into the customer experience?

With cannabis legal in most states, most shops are now seeing customers from all around the world who belong to all different age groups and genders. And, I am happy to say, the stoner stereotype has officially been tossed out the window. Baby Boomers are starting to embrace cannabis, so they will have more questions and issues. Now that it’s not being as demonized in the media, they can see it for what it is: medicine. Millennials are a lucky group to have grown up in a time period where cannabis is sold legally, so they get the benefit of always having had access to the plant, which means they most likely will be savvier.

Regardless of age, the best policy with everyone is to be honest. When a customer isn’t pleased with a purchase, a simple “we understand some cartridges leak” or “occasionally, batteries don’t work” can do wonders. At the end of the day, you should always make it right no matter what the problem is. Always do what is needed to fix the situation. The number one goal when it comes to customer relations is to go above and beyond for all your patrons. —Dee Azure, operations manager, Smokin Gun Apothecary

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Darren Roberts, chief executive officer, Green Mile Holdings

Are staffing needs changing as the industry matures?

Dispensaries no longer sport blacked-out windows; you don’t have to slip your ID through a thick glass window and be buzzed into a back room. Instead, we see beautifully designed architecture that resembles retail stores on Fifth Avenue in New York. As dispensaries start to resemble high-end department stores, it’s critical to have the human resources within the environment reflect the make-up of the store. So, it’s extremely important to have a dedicated customer relations person available to address issues customers may have. You never want a customer to hold up the line or have a debate at the register with a budtender. Not only does this create a bottleneck for other customers, but it also creates a contentious environment that can discourage people from coming back.

If hiring a dedicated customer relations position is not feasible, having a feedback page with a live chat feature on your website will allow dispensary managers to continue the dialogue with the customer and incentivize them to come back. In this day and age, it takes one bad Yelp review or social post to turn customers off. —Darren Roberts, chief executive officer, Green Mile Holdings

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Michael Green, owner, Spacebuds The Dispensary

What “little things” attract and retain customers?

Now that billboards are legal in most states, that is always a way to catch consumers’ eyes. Also, doing creative radio and digital advertising can be quite effective. But once you get a new customer into your shop, you need to treat them how you would want to be treated as a customer—from products to price to interaction. Budtenders have a responsibility to be a strong source of knowledge about the products they provide to their customers.

The biggest mistake most shops make is not realizing the customer experience begins as soon as they step foot inside. Customers are getting increasingly savvy and can tell how much you care by the environment you provide for them. Showing the ability to listen and effectively navigate to the right product is the best way to show them that. But you can’t put it all on the front of the house. It’s the responsibility of the owner and intake managers to navigate the market and supply the staff with all the products and price points they need to stay competitive and create the ideal experience. 

Bottom line: If you’re saying “no” when all your competitors are saying “yes,” you likely will end up with a problem, especially when the closest competitor may share your parking lot. —Michael Green, owner, Spacebuds The Dispensary  

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