Customer experience (CX) is one of the biggest opportunities that cannabis businesses can leverage to stand out from competitors and gain an edge in the marketplace. The key is to understand that customer experience and customer service are not the same thing. Instead, customer experience refers to every touchpoint between a brand and a consumer across the entire customer journey.
From the first moment that a consumer hears a brand name, through making a purchase decision, buying, and even after the purchase is made – cannabis businesses have opportunities to strengthen the emotional connection with consumers that can increase loyalty. They also have opportunities to deliver negative experiences that lead to lost loyalty.
Today, customer experience is omnichannel, and cannabis businesses need to have strategies in place to deliver the best experiences in every brand interaction – whether those interactions happen on websites, social media, text messaging, or in-person and whether those interactions are one-on-one or one-to-many.
According to Zendesk’s Customer Experience Trends Report 2020, nearly three out of four customers (74%) feel loyal to a specific brand or company, and more than half (52%) will go out of their way to buy from their favorite brands or businesses.
Knowing that customer experience drives loyalty and loyalty drives sales, now is the time for cannabis businesses to develop strategies to leverage customer experience as a competitive differentiator. Following are five data-backed insights from Zendesk’s research to consider as you develop your plans.
1. Price, Service, and Products Drive Loyalty
Consumers rank customer service as the second most important attribute that makes them feel loyal to a brand. More than half of all customers surveyed (57%) specifically name service as a loyalty factor, but it’s important to understand that there are customer experiences related to every attribute that consumers were asked to rank in this survey. Here is the breakdown:
- Price: 62%
- Customer service: 57%
- Product/service offerings: 54%
- Convenience of purchase or use: 45%
- Brand reputation: 34%
- Personalization and promotions: 27%
Think about the attributes listed above and consider all of the customer experiences associated with each one across a consumer’s journey. They all matter.
2. Millennials Expect Stellar Experiences
Customer service is most important to Millennials in comparison to Gen X, Baby Boomers, or the Silent Generation. In fact, younger consumers’ purchase decisions are directly impacted by experiences – their own and those they hear about from other people.
For Millennials, having a great customer experience is a top priority, and they expect businesses to work to deliver stellar experiences in every interaction. In other words, they want businesses to acknowledge them and show that their loyalty matters – and not just to businesses’ bottom-lines.
3. Content Matters to Customer Experiences
The Zendesk research reports that the most important aspect of a good customer service experience is resolving issues quickly. More than two out of three consumers (69%) want to solve as many of their issues as possible on their own. To that end, they want access to content that quickly and easily answers their questions and solves their problems.
Nearly two-thirds of consumers (63%) always or almost always first check a company’s website and search its online resources when they have an issue. That means there is a significant opportunity for cannabis businesses to beat competitors by offering reliable content on their websites.
Content marketing is an essential part of every company’s marketing plan today, and cannabis businesses are no different. If you don’t already have a content marketing strategy in place, you need to create one and start implementing it immediately.
4. Data Builds Loyalty When Used Effectively
Businesses have access to a vast amount of customer data collected through point-of-sale software, email marketing, social media, websites, and more. When companies use that data to deliver better customer experiences, loyalty and sales go up. In fact, Zendesk found that companies using data effectively solve four times the number of customer requests than those that don’t leverage data well.
To use your data effectively, you need a comprehensive process to collect it, keep it current, and connect it from multiple sources (e.g., sales software, feedback tool, service tool, and so on). When your data is centralized, you can put it into context and identify opportunities to enhance customer experiences across the customer buying journey.
5. Leading Businesses Prioritize Customer Experience
The number of companies bringing customer experience to the C-suite has increased significantly during the past decade. Today, every business should have an employee in place who owns customer experience, and every employee should be held accountable for helping to deliver amazing customer experiences.
In addition, companies need to understand customer preferences and align experiences with those preferences. For example, Zendesk found that when it comes to resolving issues with a company, older consumers in the Silent Generation, Baby Boomers, and Gen X prefer phone, email, and online forms (in that order). However, younger consumers (Millennials) prefer to use messaging, chat, social media, community forums, and voice assistant devices (in that order) to resolve issues.
It’s crucial that cannabis businesses develop comprehensive buyer personas and build customer experiences that meet the needs and preferences of those personas in order to build loyalty and positive word-of-mouth marketing.
Key Takeaways about Customer Experience for Cannabis Businesses
Loyalty isn’t a one-time investment. Cannabis businesses need to build it and then keep it. Every customer experience can gain or lose loyalty, and the reality is that it’s far easier to lose customer loyalty than it is to gain customer loyalty.
Once loyalty is lost, the business loses sales – not just from a single customer but from all of the potential customers that the disloyal customer will share their negative experience with. It’s a domino effect, and it’s every employee’s responsibility to ensure that first domino never tips over.