Blog of the Committee: How can retailers improve customer experience?

Retail Committee of NCIA

Ace Castillo, Brian Anderson, Tony Trinh, Pete Longo, Nicole Rivers, John Kent, Larina Schofield, and Brian Hart are contributing authors


In a market where companies are competing, the customer experience can be a major factor in determining the success of an organization. How can we improve the experience of our customers? Service is the answer. What can retailers do to serve their customers better? Here are some key takeaways from the NCIA’s retail committee after consulting with several members.


Education


Both the employee and the customer are affected by this. There are many employees that work directly with customers who are knowledgeable and have made an impression. However, there is a general trend of a lack in consistency when it comes to employee knowledge and communication. You can ask the same question of four different budtenders in a retail store and receive five different answers. This is usually a result of management not providing consistent and standardized training. The high turnover in the cannabis industry is certainly a challenge. However, management must find ways to ensure that every employee receives the same training so there is an established standard of cannabis knowledge. Once the standard is established, employees who interact with customers can give them consistent and accurate information. For example, employees can communicate the effects of cannabis products and the cannabinoids, terpenes and other properties of the plant.


Engagement


Engagement of customers and community members improves overall customer satisfaction. Retail locations often have a promising community engagement plan when they apply for a licence, but it is not implemented. While it is easy to understand that there are many tasks to complete, if the retail location wishes to improve customer service they should engage with the community and the customers. Organise events that allow a retailer to get to know their customers and the community. These events can also be used as an opportunity for education. Engage local leaders and those who may have concerns regarding a retail store in the area. It does not mean that people will change opinions, but if they feel listened to with respect and are able to communicate effectively then the reputation of the business will improve. Good business reputation improves interactions with customers. Retail employees should also engage with customers to share information about plants and products.


Process Development


Improve the customer experience by evaluating it. Use the experiences gained from training employees and engaging customers to improve your process. A conversation can give valuable insights into how to improve the service. A second conversation can provide valuable insight into what products customers value or, more importantly, which products they dislike. The explanations given by retail staff may be too specific or vague for many customers. Make the necessary changes to improve your process if this is the case. When changes are made to benefit the customer, they will be more inclined to return.


Data Analytics


This doesn’t have to be complicated. What is the customer flow rate? Could there be a correlation between the time of day and what customers are buying? There may be a certain time of the day when many customers are looking for a particular item. By observing this, can you make changes to improve the experience and ease the process? Retailers can avoid disappointing customers by maintaining the proper inventory levels. It may be that the local customers prefer a certain brand or product. If there are certain products that don’t sell and may be a distraction for customers, you might want to remove them. It is not necessary to be intrusive when reviewing data about your customers.


Company Values


Do they have a set of values? Are these values authentic and are they followed by the retailer? The company’s values provide direction and a commonality with the customer. Does the retailer care about kindness? Is it practiced in all areas of the business? The likelihood that a customer-facing employee would treat a customer with kindness is higher if the owner treats the manager with kindness. If the company values are announced, and they are practiced in daily interactions, the customers will notice.


You may have noticed that the tips above are not new or revolutionary. These are simple ideas that you can implement every day to make small, but incremental improvements. These tips are meant to be tried out. With time and consistency, these small improvements will add up and improve customer service.

Brian Hart, a consultant in the cannabis sector and an entrepreneur with both academic and real-world experience is one of the most experienced cannabis professionals. Brian Hart grew cannabis, sold it and has consulted for the industry nationally and internationally. He wrote his master’s thesis using a neoclassical model of economics to analyze the Colorado Cannabis Industry.

The article Committee blog: How can retailers improve the customer experience? first appeared on National Cannabis Industry Association.