MJBizMag April 2022 - 50

Five-Star Service
When retailers or cultivators
suspect a review is fake-a common
enough occurrence in competitive
markets-they can file a dispute. If the
company can prove the review is likely
illegitimate, Weedmaps will take it down
to protect the integrity of the platform.
" Being a source of valuable and
trustworthy reviews is very important to
consumers, " Feijoo said. " And we believe
that that adds value to the platform.
Consumers will continue to come back if
they see that there are reviews that can
help them make better decisions when
they're purchasing cannabis. "
While retailers such as Cookies
will respond to nearly every piece of
negative feedback with an apology and
some ideas about how to have a better
experience in the future, retailers in
less-competitive markets with fewer
licenses don't tend to allocate nearly as
many resources to monitoring reviews,
said Andrew DeAngelo, a cannabis
business consultant and co-founder of
Oakland, California-based cannabis
retailer Harborside.
" We took it really seriously, "
DeAngelo said, referring to his time
at Harborside, which he left in 2018.
" But some people don't (pay attention
to reviews). ... And that's the prevailing
attitude. You go to Massachusetts (and)
they don't care. They do not care about
the reviews at all. "
In more competitive markets,
however, Google, Yelp and Weedmaps
reviews are an important piece of the
search engine algorithm, said Chris
Rodgers, the CEO and co-founder of
Colorado SEO Pros.
Soliciting Positive Feedback
Authenticity is still key to the equation,
Rodgers cautioned, so don't try to game
the system or generate fake reviews.
" This is going to be what your
potential customers see when they
are considering your brand or store,
and most consumers can sniff out
fake reviews, " he said. " Google has
also implemented algorithm updates
50 April 2022 | MJBizMagazine
Online reviews carry more weight in some markets, according to Andrew DeAngelo,
co-founder of California-based Harborside. Courtesy Photo
to address fake reviews, so they aren't
worth pursuing versus working at
getting authentic positive reviews. "
There are ways to try to incentivize
customers to leave positive reviews,
however. Depending on local regulations,
some stores will give away a free
gram of cannabis in exchange for a
positive review, DeAngelo said, or offer
a discount on the next purchase.
New retailers should prioritize
online reviews and ensure they have
the tech skills and resources to address
them. That's something Shane Munz,
co-founder and brand manager of
Philadelphia's Moka Hemp, wishes he
had done when he started his CBD shop.
" I would definitely put more of a
focus on online reviews from the start if
I had to change anything, " he said. " It's
an easy way to build that trust with new
and existing customers. "
Handling Negative Reviews
It's also important to have a clear
strategy on how best to respond to
negative feedback, which is going to
happen to everyone at some point.
Diane Mulligan, the president
and CEO of Colorado-based M&C
Communications, suggested ensuring
at least one person on the customerservice
team is looking at new reviews
daily. If that person goes on vacation or
needs to take a sick day, the role must
be covered, because it's important to
respond to feedback within 24 hours.
She recommended responding to
both positive and negative reviews
and making sure there's a method to
send feedback to the relevant teams so
problems don't recur.
Get Active
More than anything, engagement
is key.
" Let people know that you are
reading them, appreciate the feedback
and, if possible, list any action taken, "
she said. " Your reviewers took the
time to post, so they appreciate it
when you take the time to respond and
tell them how much you appreciate
their input. "
In the early days at Cookies,
Millican said that negative reviews
informed quality control and helped
the company refine the strains it
carried and overall product lineup.
Now, the company's engagement
with reviews is more tailored toward
specific customer experiences and
their concerns, rather than repeating
scripted engagement or falling into
predictable messaging patterns.
" We have our local budtenders
respond because often they'll be able
to figure out who that customer was
or who helped that customer, " she
said. " And the big thing is responding
to the customer in an authentic way
and being able to take action upon a
response. "
Taking action increases the
likelihood that the customer will
return. Action could come in the form
of replacing a product or facilitating a
return, although returns might not be
allowed in some locations.
More than anything, it's important to
use reviews as a learning opportunity to
improve product quality and customer
experiences. Don't take it personally
when the inevitable negative reviews
come in.

MJBizMag April 2022

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of MJBizMag April 2022

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