5 Ways to Improve the Patient Experience at Your Dispensary

Honor your customers and grow your business.

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Before I entered the world of business, I was pre-med. Between mixing chemicals and shadowing physicians and surgeons at hospitals, I found it very difficult to gauge why I wanted to become a physician. I went into healthcare to help people and because I love science, but I lost sight of my original motivation with all the challenges of being a student.

Dispensary executives, operations managers, and budtenders aren't that different. They may have other reasons for getting into the medical cannabis industry. But one common theme unites them all: serving patients.

Still, running a business isn't easy. Planning inventory, figuring out marketing and training teams can be very time-consuming. And who ends up paying the price? Unfortunately, the patient. But it doesn't have to be this way. If your dispensary serves medical patients, here are five ways to improve the customer experience for those who motivated you to get into the business in the first place.  

Related: What Cannabis Retailers Can Expect in 2021

1. Offer physician and pharmacist consultations 

Cannabis may be a fantastic plantidote, but cannabis use may be jarring for first-time patients. I recommend you contract trained physicians and pharmacists to offer complimentary consultations to patients who need more clarity about cannabis and how it can positively impact their healthcare.

Many dispensaries have waiting rooms for patients. Why not treat these spaces as if they were a physician's office? Ensure your front desk employee (the one who oversees identification) uses the right registration technology and methodologies to offer a formal patient intake program. After new patients fill out the required paperwork (whether electronic or print), keep these records secured for physicians and pharmacists to reference before the consultations. To implement this cost-effectively, designate a specific day of the month for consultations. Patients will not only trust your business, but there is a more substantial chance they will recommend your business to other patients. 

2. Diversify your sales team 

Many dispensaries employ young stoners as experts. These employees may be cannabis enthusiasts and connect with younger adult-use customers. Still, they may not connect with senior citizens or patients with more complicated medical conditions. Tap a different type of budtender for this job. Many retired seniors use medical cannabis and are looking for part-time work. Hire them to be patient advocates. By diversifying your team, you will attract new customers and improve your retention efforts. When medical patients meet similar salespeople, the customer experience is improved. Without team diversity, your business will suffer. 

3. Improve in-store patience comfort 

Let's say a medical patient enters your business with cerebral palsy and needs crutches to stand. Are you set up to accommodate them in the best way? You can build customer trust and loyalty by meeting the needs of special needs patients. For patients who cannot stand for long periods, special electronic chairs can rise, so they don't have to stand at the counter. For patients with diabetes, there are sugar-free edibles. The possibilities are endless. Ask your patients with special needs what they'd recommend in making your business more comfortable. Having plush chairs in the waiting room isn't enough. 

4. Educate your customers

New patients may or may not be interested in the science of cannabis. But it is your team's responsibility to articulate why specific products are designed to improve their lives. Knowledge of products and specific terpenes can help to fill patient knowledge gaps. If a budtender is passionate about the science of cannabis, allow them to collect research studies from credible sources to deliver to patients. If your business hires physicians and pharmacists, convert their medical knowledge into documents that patients can access. The point is this: focus on delivering more education to your customers. They will not only thank you; they will feel empowered. 

5. Send tailored customer surveys 

When dispensaries use marketing software, they often don't realize that they can also use these programs to build relationships with existing customers. For example, using Alpine iQ's segmentation technology, you can create a specific persona category for patients with clinical anxiety. Send them a weekly or monthly survey that contains questions relating to mental health. You can also partner with a local certified mental health counselor to draft these questions. If your dispensary offers a loyalty program, give patients points for completing the survey. The more personal attention you give your customers, the more they'll feel heard. 


Unique Michael

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Entrepreneur Leadership Network VIP

Unique is a copywriter, journalist, and data analyst. He has led creative and marketing strategies for brands like Alpine IQ, Cookies, and numerous cannabis businesses in the United States and Canada. Unique has advised global and small business marketing at Dell and is currently a global copywriter for GMR Marketing. When Unique isn't working, he makes edibles for fun and volunteers as a yoga teacher.