This California Marijuana Dispensary Is Using Bots to Understand Customers’ Preferences

Can serve personalized deals and offers

You can already read a news article and order a cab from a bot, so it was only a matter of time until you could place a weed order through one.

Over the past couple of months, Canna Freedom—a dispensary located in Monterey, Calif.,—has been experimenting with a chat bot within Flok, a mobile app that works with 50,000 businesses to power their loyalty programs to improve customer service and understand what types of products customers are interested in.

Here's how it works: The app uses a person's location to find nearby businesses that are offering deals and offers. People then "follow" their favorite businesses to opt-in to notifications and messages that can be redeemed in-store. Each business' page also includes a chat feature that customers can use to ask questions. In the case of Canna Freedom, the dispensary is targeting offers based on data like birthdays or someone's past purchases to gauge customer service in-store. For example, after someone visits a store, the bot can automatically follow-up to ask about their experience using artificial intelligence.

"The AI can message people on their birthday with a special offer," said Joey Espinoza, executive director of Canna Freedom. "One of the coolest functions is the proactive AI can reach out to customers after they've left the store to rate their experience—this leads to a higher amount of good reviews."

Indeed both big and small marketers are experimenting with bots to field customer service question, but Ido Gaver, CEO of Flok, added that automated responses can only go so far for brands. While his company's bots can answer basic questions, human customer service reps are responsible for handling more sophisticated and advanced questions.

"What we're trying to do is allow these local businesses to build their own customers into a mobile community," he said.

"The bot or the automatic messaging can be looked at as something that's operated in two sectors—one is the in-store communication, meaning that the bot controls everything that happens from the moment that you step into the store and the other bot is responsible for everything that is happening outside the store."

Take a look at how Canna Freedom's bot works below.