So, you want your legal cannabis dispensary to be more than a shop-and-dash customer experience. That’s important because dispensaries have competition and those competitors might have just the right formula for ensuring their customers return again and again.
The difference isn’t always just about the product that you sell, though. The difference is also intrinsically linked to how the customer experiences your brand and their interaction with you. So what, exactly, makes up the ‘customer experience’?
The Customer Experience
Sometimes known as CX, customer experience encompasses all interactions between a client/customer and the company. According to the 2016 Digital Trends report that is compiled annually by Adobe and Eco consultancy, customer experience embodies five major interactions as follows:
- Awareness: this is when a potential customer for your product becomes aware of your brand of cannabis. This is when he or she first becomes aware that you even exist.
- Discovery: this is when a potential customer discovers more about what you and your brand have to offer that they might want or need.
- Cultivation: this is the time when you start building rapport with the potential customer that will lead to a sale and gaining a customer.
- Advocacy: this ongoing pattern of interactions is the time when you assist the potential customer to see the value that your product or service can bring to their lives.
- Purchases and service: this is the point at which you make a sale and gain a customer. You’re becoming their provider.
So, how can you ensure an optimal customer experience?
- Firstly, you might be selling the greatest cannabis in town, but if no-one knows about your product and your dispensary, you might as well close up shop. The key here, as it is with most other businesses, is building awareness among potential customers.
You need to get the word out there, and you need to be ‘everywhere,’ so to speak so that any potential customer cannot help but find out about you. There are several ways of building awareness and, consequently, a client base:
- Make sure your social media is impeccable. It is, after all, the key to engaging with potential customers these days. Make sure you cover all platforms and keep posting relevant content.
You could run a competition on your Facebook page, for example, so that anyone sharing a post stands to win something likely of value to a potential customer. The idea is to get foot traffic into your dispensary.
- Make sure you’ve got an excellent website that is professionally designed and keep it up to date.
There’s nothing more unprofessional-looking than an out-of-date website. If people see your brand somewhere, they want to be able to Google it and find current, relevant information about your products and dispensary.
- Engage in strategic, tactical, clever advertising. Few people have the funds needed to put up huge neon billboards, so it’s important to utilize whatever budget you have in as creative a way as possible.
Getting together with a few like-minded people for a brainstorming session is a great way to generate ideas about raising awareness or various other issues that require decision-making.
The rule is that no idea is too way-out or impractical. Everyone should have the opportunity to suggest without receiving judgment or rejection from others. Once everyone’s out of ideas, it’s time to go back to the ideas generated to consider them individually.
Many ideas will be rejected for practical and financial reasons, but there are bound to be a few innovative ideas that could work for your business.
- Keep yourself informed about any public forums or public events that might be scheduled, and make sure your brand is out there for all potential customers to see. Make sure your brand is as unique as possible.
Research other dispensaries and ensure you stand out from the rest. Unless you’re a design expert yourself, hire a professional designer to give your brand a unique look that is different from other brands out there.
For example, the most obvious color to use in packaging is green because that’s the color of marijuana. But what about thinking outside the box a bit and coming up with a color that’s going to stand out among all the greens. Don’t underestimate the importance of brand image.
- Register your brand with directories of cannabis-related businesses and events. You can’t compete if you’re not listed.
- Target specific niche audiences with marketing efforts that are aimed specifically at their needs.
Niche groups include senior citizens, women, professionals, and various others. There are many ways of engaging these niche audiences. For example, if you know what each cannabis strains effects are, you can better advise each person for the effects they are aiming for.
You could also arrange your dispensary in such a way that groups certain products that will suit different lifestyles, such as a ‘cannabis and fitness’ section, or a section aimed at senior users. It’s also important to find out what your customers want.
Two ways of doing that are to ask them via an anonymous survey, and by organizing well-planned focus groups to research your customers’ needs and wants. For both these items, it would be advisable to engage a professional researcher or experienced marketer to ensure you get the information you want.
- Team up with organizations that promote cannabis use and related products. There are all sorts of opportunities for partnering with other groups. Put your heads together and come up with something creative and eye-catching to potential customers.
- The bottom line is, make sure that your customers get treated like kings and queens every time they interact with you.
And – this is a no-brainer – make sure your products are top-notch. If they are, and the customer experience is always good, you might have a repeat customer who is loyal to your brand.