DYME refines the cannabis customer experience with Zendesk

  • Customer since July 2018
  • Wholly owned brands 12
  • Email FRT <1 hour
  • CSAT 92%
  • Products Used

It’s been nearly a quarter century since California took the nation’s first steps toward cannabis legalization. Over the past two decades (roughly the same length of time it took to “tame” the Wild West), dozens of states have followed suit, either legalizing it completely or approving it for medical use. From the West Coast to heartland states such as Illinois and Colorado, consumers can now enjoy cannabis without fear of legal repercussions, and even the social stigma reinforced by decades of prohibition is fading.

However, despite significant shifts in public sentiment about cannabis, it remains illegal on the federal level, and many states have not implemented even modest decriminalization. Even where cannabis is legal, consumers and businesses face widely differing regulations—often quite different from neighboring jurisdictions. Running a cannabis business in this shifting landscape can be fraught with challenges, such as dealing with archaic banking laws that require the industry to operate on a cash-only basis. While the industry retains much of its rough edges and fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants aesthetic, some players—such as DYME —have begun to ask the question: With all the new opportunities for consumers who are interested in the medical, recreational, and wellness aspects of cannabis, isn’t it time for the industry to turn a corner?

Bringing modern business practices to an industry that has long embraced nonconformists and outlaws is especially challenging. But as Lawrence Lewis, DYME’s Sr. Director of Client Services, sees it, there’s opportunity in focusing on a heretofore foreign concept: the customer experience. “I always thought, ‘If they brought customer experience to the legal cannabis space, it would be a game changer,’” said Lewis, a cannabis industry veteran.

Why a game changer? “Consumers are looking for safe and consistent product, and education about cannabis products. Growers are trying to do what they do best in a new legal environment and are not accustomed to regulatory bodies, operating with business conditions like invoices and terms, etc. Dispensaries are focused on the retail operations in this shifting environment. DYME makes it easier for all of our stakeholders to do what they do best…provide safe Cannabis to the legal market. And we do this with our CX team and Client Service teams! They are the glue to all. They Champion our Clients and Customers needs internally and put all the pieces together.”

“As a company, we are thinking long-term, building a solid foundation, putting the customer first. With all of the transition and heavy regulations and changes right now, brands are very margin and revenue-focused.”

Fittingly, DYME’s business model spans the industry it’s trying to change. The publicly-traded company (CSE: DYME) offers its own brands, such as Winberry Farms vape cartridges, Gardener’s pre-rolls and flowers, and Aja’s CBD products, well as a distribution service that offers end-to-end delivery, cash collection, route management, and manifesting for third-party brands, manufacturers, and cultivators. The company also runs Chill, a cannabis delivery service for consumers.

Whether you’re a cultivator growing cannabis in Humboldt County, a manager of a dispensary in Portland, Oregon, or a consumer in San Francisco who wants home delivery, DYME offers a service for your needs. To date, the company has served nearly half-a-million customers and more than 780 dispensaries. That mix of B2B and B2C services poses significant challenges for DYME and its roughly 300 employees, Lewis said, including fueling a period of extremely rapid growth that puts a lot of pressure on the business.

“We’ve scaled and grown about 500 percent over the past year,” Lewis said. “We’ve gone public, acquired new brands, and launched a direct-to-consumer platform from scratch within three months.”

To help realize its customer-first vision, DYME turned to The Zendesk Suite. For its B2B clients, DYME’s support agents rely on email, phone, and Slack to help customers, and Chill support requests come via email, phone, chat, and Facebook Messenger. Meanwhile, the B2B account management team uses Zendesk Duet, a bundle package of Zendesk Support and Zendesk Sell, to communicate, track customer interactions, and measure clients’ weekly health scores.

Lewis, who had used Zendesk at a previous company acquired by DYME, joined just as the company began using Zendesk Support—but he soon realized that the support challenges the business faced would require not only upgrading to The Zendesk Suite but also adopting Sell. “I obviously knew the value of Zendesk coming in,” Lewis said. “I knew that I had to start directing conversations into a CRM, start tracking and creating metrics and data. That was the only way that we were going to be able to scale to keep up with the hyper growth of the company. I transitioned over to The Zendesk Suite because I wanted the flexibility. I knew that we were going to be adding different teams and workflows in it.”

At the heart of the decision to expand its sales and customer support tools is DYME’s goal to appeal to the “canna curious”—people who previously balked at the idea of trying cannabis either because of its illegality and the social stigma or simply because they didn’t know where to start. “We believe there is a big opportunity to target mainstream consumers like Whole Foods moms” Lewis said. “And so I think about it like, ‘If I were a Whole Foods mom and I didn’t know anything about cannabis, how would I want to be approached? What questions would I have? What stigma’s do I need to move past? How would I want to be serviced?’ That’s how we put operations into play.”

To that end, Chill customers can reach out via embedded chat to reach support agents. “If you have a question about it or you’re unsure about something, you can live chat with someone. Even during delivery, if you’re still unsure, our concierge drivers are trained to educate you about the product,” said Lewis, who notes that the company averages about 3,000 consumer deliveries every week in just two local markets. “We want to make you feel comfortable and safe shopping with us.”

That stands in stark contrast to the cannabis delivery industry as a whole, which Lewis says is marked by uncertain delivery times, high employee turnover, and an overall shoddy customer experience. “We are creating this amazing experience,” Lewis said. “We look at the whole customer journey: getting to our site, placing an order, and the actual delivery.”

A key element in DYME’s effort to provide exceptional customer service is leveraging Zendesk Support’s multi-branding feature. The company has built five targeted help centers that serve a wide swath of its customers. That means branded sites for Chill delivery customers as well as for drivers and retailers, third-party partners, and even two distinct Winberry instances (one for Oregon and one for California due to regulation differences).

Those branded help centers, plus Zendesk’s omnichannel functionality, play a significant role in helping DYME maintain CSAT scores in the low-to-mid-90s, even as ticket volumes grow by an average of 25 percent per month. The company also focuses on first-reply time as a key metric, with most tickets being responded to in less than an hour, and chats in just over a minute. To track these metrics, DYME leans on Zendesk Explore. “When we initially launched Chill, we were definitely leveraging the chat widget to track a lot of the engagement,” Lewis said. “When we first launched, our executives loved all of the reporting that chat brought in, and the pretty, sexy graphs.”

For account managers who need to nurture relationships with third-party vendors and dispensaries, Sell makes it much easier to keep track of how customers feel about doing business with DYME. “We don’t ever want a client to abruptly leave us and us not know why they left,” Lewis said. “We want to keep a pulse on how each client is doing weekly. For example, one of the measurements we track is escalations outside of the account manager. How many times has something escalated to his or her manager.”

As DYME faces intense growth, Lewis and his team members continue to expand the use of The Zendesk Suite, such as taking advantage of marketplace apps like Shopify, Delighted, Aircall, and Stella Connect. Meanwhile, Lewis is busy building a new self-service help center for Chill using Zendesk Guide, which will enable customers to help themselves while freeing support agents to focus on more complex issues.

“We all want each other to be successful, and we really want the company and brand to be successful,” Lewis said. “It’s a lot of collaboration and a lot of teamwork. It’s a pretty loving culture, actually.”

“I love the flexibility of Zendesk’s products. I know as we build and grow that we’re going to need tools that talk to each other, and Zendesk’s products all play nicely together.”

Lawrence Lewis DYME’s Sr. Director of Client Services