Committee Blog: Optimizing the Cannabis Dispensary Experience – An In-depth Look at Terpenes, Cannabinoids, and THC for Superior Customer Service

Committee Blog: Optimizing the Cannabis Dispensary Experience – An In-depth Look at Terpenes, Cannabinoids, and THC for Superior Customer Service

By: Pete Longo, Founder & CEO, The Phinest Kind
Contributing Authors: Larina Scofield, Sweed POS | Nicole Rivers, Northern Light Cannabis Co. | Richard Fleming, Altered State Cannabis Company
Produced by: NCIA’s Retail Committee 

The cannabis industry has experienced rapid growth in recent years, with more and more states legalizing its use for medical and recreational purposes. As a result, cannabis dispensaries are becoming increasingly popular, with many people visiting them for the first time. For dispensary owners, managers, and budtenders, it’s essential to provide a positive customer experience to build brand loyalty and attract repeat business. This blog will discuss the importance of focusing on the customer experience at cannabis dispensaries and how understanding terpenes, cannabinoids, and THC percentages can improve the overall experience for both new and experienced users.

Understanding the Customer Experience

What makes a great customer experience at a cannabis dispensary?  A positive experience can be characterized by:

  • Knowledgeable Staff:

    Budtenders and other staff members should be well-trained and able to provide accurate and easily digestible information on various cannabis products, including their effects and appropriate dosages.

  • Welcoming Atmosphere:

    Dispensaries should be clean, well-organized, and aesthetically pleasing, making customers feel comfortable and at ease during their visit.

  • Product Selection:

    A wide variety of high-quality cannabis products should be available to cater to the diverse preferences and needs of customers.

  • Personalized Recommendations:

    Budtenders should be able to make personalized recommendations based on the customer’s preferences, desired effects, and level of experience with cannabis.

Terpenes, Cannabinoids, and THC: Key Components of Cannabis

To provide an exceptional customer experience, it’s essential for dispensary staff to understand the key components of cannabis, including terpenes, cannabinoids, and THC percentages. These components play a significant role in the overall effects of cannabis and can help staff make tailored recommendations for customers.

  • Terpenes:

    Terpenes are aromatic compounds found in many plants, including cannabis. They give each strain its unique aroma and taste, and they can also have therapeutic effects. There are over 100 different terpenes in cannabis, with some of the most common ones being myrcene, limonene, and pinene. Understanding the terpene profile of a specific strain can help staff recommend products based on the desired flavor and aroma, as well as the potential therapeutic benefits.

  • Cannabinoids:

    Cannabinoids are the chemical compounds found in cannabis that interact with the body’s endocannabinoid system, producing various effects. Many Cannabis products advertise “full-spectrum” CBD, meaning that the product not only contains CBD, but can also contain the other cannabinoids as well as terpenes, essential oils, and up to 0.3% THC. There are over 100 different cannabinoids in cannabis, with THC (tetrahydrocannabinol) and CBD (cannabidiol) being the most well-known. THC is responsible for the psychoactive effects of cannabis, while CBD has various therapeutic effects without causing a “high.” Dispensary staff should be familiar with the different cannabinoids and their effects to help customers choose products based on their desired experience.

  • THC Percentages:

    The THC percentage of a cannabis product indicates the concentration of THC, which largely determines the psychoactive effects of the product. Generally, higher THC percentages lead to more potent effects. However, it’s important to note that the overall effects of a cannabis product are influenced by other factors, such as the terpene profile and the presence of other cannabinoids. Dispensary staff should be able to explain the significance of THC percentages and guide customers in selecting products with appropriate potency levels.

Educating Customers and Tailoring Recommendations

Dispensary staff should prioritize educating customers about terpenes, cannabinoids, and THC percentages to help them make informed decisions about their purchases. By understanding these components, customers can better tailor their cannabis experience to their preferences and needs.

For example, a customer looking for a relaxing experience may be interested in a strain high in myrcene, a terpene known for its sedative and relaxing effects. In contrast, someone seeking a more uplifting and energizing experience might prefer a strain with a higher concentration of limonene, which is associated with elevated mood and increased energy. Additionally, customers with little to no experience with cannabis may prefer strains with lower THC percentages to avoid overwhelming psychoactive effects.

When assisting customers, dispensary staff should ask about their preferences, desired effects, and experience level with cannabis. Based on this information, they can recommend strains and products that align with the customer’s goals while considering the terpene profile, cannabinoid content, and THC percentage. This personalized approach can help customers feel more confident in their purchases and lead to a more satisfying experience.

For HR Professionals: Training and Development

To ensure that dispensary staff can effectively educate customers and provide tailored recommendations, it’s crucial for HR professionals to invest in comprehensive training and development programs. Training should cover a wide range of topics, including:

  • Cannabis Fundamentals:

    Staff should have a solid understanding of cannabis basics, such as the differences between indica, sativa, and hybrid strains, and the various forms of cannabis product, methods of ingestion and their varying timing of effects (e.g., flower, edibles, concentrates, tinctures, and topicals, vaping, eating, and drinking).

  • Terpenes, Cannabinoids, and THC:

    As discussed earlier, staff should be well-versed in the role of terpenes, cannabinoids, and THC percentages in determining the effects of cannabis products.

  • Customer Service Skills:

    Staff should be trained in effective communication, active listening, and empathy to better understand and serve their customers.

  • Compliance and Regulations:

    Dispensary staff should be knowledgeable about state and local regulations regarding cannabis sales, as well as safety protocols and best practices for handling cannabis products.

By providing thorough training and development opportunities, HR professionals can ensure that dispensary staff are equipped to deliver an exceptional customer experience.

The Role of Technology in Enhancing the Customer Experience

As the cannabis industry continues to grow and evolve, technology is playing an increasingly important role in enhancing the customer experience at dispensaries. In this section, we’ll explore several innovative technologies and tools that can help dispensary owners, managers, and staff provide an even better experience for their customers.

  • Point-of-Sale (POS) Systems:

    Modern POS systems designed specifically for cannabis dispensaries can streamline the sales process and improve the customer experience. These systems can track customer preferences, manage inventory, calculate taxes, and ensure compliance with state and local regulations. By investing in a robust POS system, dispensaries can provide a more efficient and personalized service for their customers.

  • Digital Menus:

    Instead of relying on printed menus that can quickly become outdated, dispensaries can use digital menus to display their product offerings. These menus can be easily updated to reflect current inventory, and they can also include detailed information about each product, such as terpene profiles, cannabinoid content, and THC percentages. By providing customers with easy access to this information, digital menus can help them make more informed decisions about their purchases.

  • Online Resources and Mobile Apps:

    Dispensaries can enhance the customer experience by offering online resources and mobile apps that provide valuable information and tools related to cannabis consumption. For example, they can develop educational content about terpenes, cannabinoids, and THC percentages or create interactive tools that help customers determine their ideal dosage based on their preferences and experience level. By providing customers with access to these resources, dispensaries can support them in their cannabis journey and help them make more informed decisions.

Customer Engagement and Community Building

Another crucial aspect of providing an exceptional customer experience at cannabis dispensaries is fostering a sense of community and engagement among customers.

  • Events:

    Hosting events such as product launches, tastings, and guest speaker sessions can provide customers with an opportunity to learn more about cannabis, sample new products, and connect with other like-minded individuals. These events can also help establish a dispensary as a trusted source of information and a hub for the local cannabis community.

  • Educational Workshops:

    Dispensaries can offer workshops that focus on various aspects of cannabis, such as understanding terpenes, cannabinoids, and THC percentages, cooking with cannabis, or cultivating cannabis at home. These workshops can help customers gain a deeper understanding of cannabis and its various uses, ultimately improving their overall experience.

  • Social Media:

    Actively engaging with customers on social media platforms can help dispensaries stay connected with their audience, provide real-time updates on products and promotions, and gather valuable feedback. Dispensaries can also use social media to share educational content, answer customer questions, and participate in industry-related conversations.

  • Loyalty Programs:

    Dispensaries can implement loyalty programs that reward customers for their repeat business, encouraging them to return and further engage with the dispensary. Loyalty programs can include discounts, exclusive promotions, or early access to new products, and can be an effective way to strengthen the customer-dispensary relationship.

Focusing on the customer experience at cannabis dispensaries is crucial for building brand loyalty, attracting repeat business, and maintaining a competitive edge in the growing cannabis industry. Dispensary owners, managers, and budtenders must prioritize educating customers about terpenes, cannabinoids, and THC percentages to help them make informed decisions and tailor their cannabis experience to their preferences and needs. HR professionals play a key role in ensuring that staff receive comprehensive training and development, enabling them to provide exceptional service and create a positive customer experience. By investing in the customer experience, dispensaries can set themselves apart and thrive in the competitive cannabis market.

Author & Company Information

Pete Longo

Raised in Rye, New York, Pete Longo’s interest in cannabis began during his early high school years. He attended college at Johnson and Wales University, where he studied Business Management and Sociology. It was here that he became a Cannabis Legacy Operator. Following graduation, he started his career in the tech and digital ad industry, but this did not work out as well as he hoped. Consequently, he embarked on an exploratory journey into the culinary world working for local establishments as a cook. However, the pandemic brought to light the medicinal significance of cannabis, sparking a passion for the plant that extended beyond his legacy involvement. Pete immersed himself in extensive education about cannabis and the industry, positioning himself to capitalize on the legalization of recreational marijuana in New York in 2021. This opportunity allowed him to pursue his dream of owning a legal dispensary. Equipped with a network and expertise gained from cannabis-related courses, conferences, and over 20 certifications, Pete is now actively working to obtain a dispensary license. He is transitioning from a legacy operator to a legal proprietor, aspiring to reshape societal perspectives on cannabis.

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