How You Can Handle Complaints in a Cannabis Retail Ontario Store

apply for a cannabis retail licence

In business, keeping your current customers is just as important as attracting new ones. In fact, according to the Harvard Business Review, it can cost five to 25 times more to acquire a new customer than to retain a current one. So, if you’re thinking about getting into cannabis retail in Ontario, you need to make sure your customers are happy.

However, no matter how well you run your retail store, you’re bound to encounter customer complaints from time to time. Knowing how to handle these complaints goes a long way towards retaining customers—and towards giving your business a reputation for excellent service that could attract new customers.

To give your cannabis retail store a boost, here are a few ways you can effectively handle customer complaints.

Don’t Let Your Emotions Get in the Way

It can be hard when a customer complains to not take it personally. That’s especially true if you’re the owner or manager of a cannabis store or if the customer is visibly angry and upset. However, adopting a defensive posture and getting upset yourself is probably the worst way to respond to complaints. Getting angry will just escalate the situation.

Here are a few tips for ensuring you—and the customer—keep your emotions in check:

  • Remind yourself to stay calm—take a deep breath before saying anything
  • Adopt an open posture—crossing your arms will make you look defensive
  • Don’t rush to respond—let the customer finish and think before you decide what to say

Pay attention to your body language—crossed arms can subtly escalate the situation

Pay attention to your body language—crossed arms can subtly escalate the situation

Listen to Customer Complaints and Offer a Solution

If you want to apply for a cannabis retail licence, you’ll need to be able to respond to complaints effectively. Knowing what to say to the customer requires that you listen to them in the first place. Make an effort to understand what their problem is and ask questions if you need to. Remember that most customers’ complaints are legitimate, even if sometimes they arise due to factors beyond your control.

When you truly understand what the complaint is about, then you can go about working on a solution. Don’t just offer a canned response. Provide a specific and concrete solution. If you or an employee did something wrong, acknowledge the fact and apologize. Even if the problem was beyond your control, explain to the customer why that is and see if there’s an alternative way to make the customer happy.

Remember, even if you can’t fix the problem, customers will usually appreciate your honesty if they know why the problem is out of your control rather than being kept in the dark.

Customers appreciate honesty even if you can’t fix their problem

Customers appreciate honesty even if you can’t fix their problem

Make Sure You Are a Cannabis Expert When You Run a Cannabis Retail Ontario Store

When customers have a complaint, they often want those complaints to be heard by somebody who has the knowledge to offer solutions. Under Ontario law all staff at cannabis stores need to complete government-mandated training. This training is a great start for ensuring staff follows the law and regulations, but it’s only a start.

Under Ontario law, all staff need to complete training to work in cannabis stores

Under Ontario law, all staff need to complete training to work in cannabis stores

As a cannabis store owner, it’s important to have more detailed knowledge of cannabis retail in Ontario in order to offer customers the answers they want. For example, a customer may complain about the quality of a product, which could be due to a number of different factors, such as:

  • Issues with the producer
  • Problems with how the product is being stored by the customer
  • Normal characteristics of certain strains that can be mistaken for low quality

With your in-depth training that goes beyond the government-mandated minimum, you’ll be able to understand what factors affect cannabis quality. You’ll also be better equipped to offer a solution, such as suggesting the client store their cannabis differently to improve its quality.

Want to get your cannabis retail licence Ontario?

Contact the Academy of Applied Pharmaceutical Sciences to learn about our programs.


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