Here at Foottraffik, we spend a lot of time thinking about ways to attract new customers through cutting-edge tools like geo-fencing and creating can’t-miss viral content. But don’t think for a moment that means you should stop thinking about your current ones. You’ve probably heard the Pareto Principle—otherwise known as the “80-20 Rule”—before, but it bears repeating: The top 20% of your customers will generate 80% of your revenue.
What does this mean for a dispensary? In many regards, the rules are the same as for any business: You’ve got to be sure you’re building your base by letting your top customers know they’re appreciated (and inviting new ones to join the ranks). Let’s dive into this central question with a few high-level concepts.
How to Develop Dispensary Customer Loyalty: The Basics
No doubt about it: Cannabis is a unique and special industry, with its own patterns and quirks. Tactics like influencer marketing on social media can take on outsize importance, as can educating your customers about how and why cannabis is such effective medicine.
But again, the general rules of commerce and retail still apply. Even in the world of cannabis, brand loyalty and customer retention count. According to Zendesk’s Customer Experience Trends Report 2020:
“Nearly three out of four customers (74 percent) feel loyal to a specific brand or company, and more than half (52 percent) will go out of their way to buy from their favorite brands or businesses.”
Increasing customer retention isn’t an abstract goal, either. It has a profound effect on your bottom line. According to a 2000 study in Harvard Business Review:
“…Increasing customer retention rates by 5% increases profits by 25% to 95%.”
You already go out of your way to source and stock the best and most appealing brands you can find. But these principles also apply to your own brand: Your dispensary. How do you ensure that you’re consistently building upon and improving the customer experience?
Some dispensaries rely on word-of-mouth. While this approach has its upsides—particularly in an industry where cachet and insider tips count for a lot—it falls flat in others. Lacking a consistent and reliable channel for customer feedback, many dispensaries find that they’re essentially flying blind.
That’s why a growing number are turning to systemized and measurable approaches. Some use tools measure and track quality and customer satisfaction. But regardless of the tool, reaching out and making sure you’re actively working to improve the customer experience is a must. Here’s how to begin the process.
How to Develop Dispensary Customer Loyalty: Four Essentials of Retention
As we shared a moment ago, customer retention isn’t a lofty but elusive goal. It’s a hard numbers, nuts-and-bolts necessity for running a successful business, and it depends to a great degree on customer experience. Whether you invest in a customized platform for quantifying customer experience or choose to collect it “by hand,” here are four steps you need to implement to derive maximum value from the process:
- Collect Reliable Feedback: This is the building block of the entire process. Without honest and reliable feedback, you’re taking stabs in the dark as to what needs to be improved. Institute a simple system—like a form on your website—and invite your customers to leave anonymous feedback via a link sent via email or SMS.
You can incentivize the process by offering points in your loyalty program (don’t tell us you don’t have one of those, please!) or other tangible goodies. But whatever you do, strive for transparency and openness. In addition to garnering you better-quality data, it sends the message that you’re serious about providing the best possible customer experience you can.
- Communicate Effectively and Respectfully: Not all feedback is good. And these days—as you’ve probably learned the hard way—there are no end of ways for customers to signal their displeasure with businesses and proprietors. That’s why responding to criticism—whether it be in-person, in online review sites, social media, or other platforms—in a respectful and effective manner is crucial. It’s a key part of reputation management, and it’s essential that you handle it correctly.
Even when the feedback is anonymous—and again, we recommend it should be—how you respond sends a powerful signal. Even if criticism stings, it’s essential to keep the end goal—improving and strengthening your business—firmly in mind.
- Take Action: This is where the rubber hits the road. Once you’ve collected enough reliable feedback to identify some areas for improvement, it’s time to put your learning into effect. What might that mean? In light of the global pandemic, it might mean implementing safer and easier options for customers to collect their orders. It could mean changing your hiring and training practices to find staff better able to meet customers’ needs.
Whatever it is, this is your opportunity to demonstrate that you’re listening and that you’re willing to put the customer experience front and center.
- Celebrate, But Don’t Quit: Implementing change in an organization isn’t easy; it’s a long-term process that demands constant monitoring and adjusting. So, we invite you to celebrate your wins while keep pushing the ball forward. Institute a quarterly feedback and review process like those in Step 1 of this list. Explore ways to make your service stand out even more, like alerting repeat customers when their favorite strain is back in stock, or there’s a special on a must-try product that matches their interests.
As wise sages have said: “Improvement isn’t a destination; it’s a journey.” Build on what you’ve learned to make sure you’re always reaching higher. Trust us: Your customers will notice, and they’ll thank you for it with their loyal business.