Updated: Mar 2
This article is brought to you by the Cannabis Commerce + Chemistry Podcast.
There's no shortage of banter about how cannabis companies should operate to be successful, including their treatment of their most loyal customers. This is especially critical in an emerging and highly contested industry that features price-sensitive shoppers and an overall hyper-competitive marketplace.
Despite the trendy talk, there's a dearth of actual customer satisfaction success stories in the marijuana industry. This is unfortunate, because it's true that each customer interaction is an opportunity to please them and put a smile on their face, gaining their loyalty and strengthening your company's market share and bottom line.
Recently, a friend in Las Vegas told me a story of how they were invited by a Henderson dispensary to a special event with a sports theme before a big championship game. The dispensary in question is one of the more popular in Henderson and owned by a large multi-state cannabis company.
"This dispensary sent an invitation for the sports-themed event. My friend was excited to attend and looked forward to talking with managers (to tell them what a consistently good job they do)."
My friend is a VIP member of this dispensary, a status gained via a loyalty program that applies points for each dollar spent. After dropping several thousand dollars (perhaps more than $10,000) at this dispensary over a two-year period, my friend elected to invest thousands of their accumulated loyalty points into an annual VIP membership. The VIP program provides a range of benefits, including significant discounts, freebies, branded swag, and jumping to the head of the line (something that attracts plenty of angry stares, according to my friend).
It also involves invitations to special events.
This dispensary invited my friend to this event via a phone call from a manager. My friend was excited to attend and looked forward to talking with dispensary staff members and brand reps about favorite products. The manager during the call noted that my friend had purchased more of a particular concentrate product than any other customer during the previous month.
Unfortunately, my friend reported that the event was one of the most disorganized they have ever attended. The DJ music was so loud that they could not have a conservation with the product reps present. Also, the tables for this event were not consolidated in a single area. Rather, they were spread throughout the exterior of the building.
"The whole thing felt like it involved very little planning," said my friend. "It felt amateurish. Not what I would expect from this dispensary. I'm loyal for a reason. This was terrible. And they invited me!" lamented my friend. "It could have been awesome," they added.
The lesson? It is a small percentage of a cannabis company's customers that exhibit strong loyalty and spend thousands of dollars each year supporting the company. Events like the one attended by my friend are excellent opportunities to nurture customer relationships and strengthen the loyalty of a company's largest volume consumers.
Think about your biggest customers. Because if you don't make them feel special—one of your competitors will.
Unfortunately, stories like that of my friend are all-to-common in the cannabis industry, whether due to lack of staff training or a blurry strategic focus. Companies have an opportunity to show their biggest retail customers how much they value their business. It's quite sad when an organization with smart employees, a seasoned C-suite, and deep pockets foregoes the opportunity to give a VIP customer a positive experience.
Think about your biggest retail customers. How do you treat them? Do you think they feel special? Because if you don't make them feel special—one of your competitors will.
P.S.: My friend has decided to shop more on the underground.
This ad-free article is brought to you by the C3 Podcast, a new weekly roundtable of veterans from the cannabis industry.