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Harness the power of reciprocity to turn dissatisfied customers into loyal advocates for your cannabis brand or retail business.

The Power of Reciprocity: Turning Unhappy Customers into Loyal Advocates

people Jul 10, 2023

Why do customers who have a bad experience often become the best customers? It’s all about harnessing the power of reciprocity.

In this article, we’ll delve into the concept of reciprocity and how it can transform dissatisfied customers into loyal advocates for your cannabis brand or retail location.

What is Reciprocity?

Reciprocity is a fundamental social norm that revolves around the exchange of actions, or gestures, for mutual benefit. In simpler terms, it’s the idea that when someone does something nice for us, we feel compelled to respond in kind. This powerful principle plays a vital role in human interactions, shaping relationships, fostering cooperation, and building social capital.

Examples of Reciprocity in Retail

To grasp the dynamics of reciprocity, let’s consider a common scenario. Imagine a customer purchasing a pair of shoes from a local retailer. They bring them home but don’t put them on again for another three days, at which time they discover the shoes have a scuff on them.

Naturally, they reach out to the retailer to voice their concern.

As a retail manager or owner, this type of call from the customer presents a valuable opportunity to showcase the power of reciprocity.

The Dance of Reciprocal Concession

In the shoes scenario, the customer calls the store to speak with the manager. They begin by expressing their disappointment and proposing a partial refund, while still wanting to keep the shoes. The manager, skilled in conflict resolution, starts the negotiation with a lesser discount.

Both parties make concessions, engaging in what is known as “reciprocal concessions.”

This process continues until they reach a mutually agreeable middle ground, with the manager even offering credit for a local shoe cleaner to address the scuff.

How to Create a Sense of Reciprocity

By offering a compromise that meets the customer’s desires, you trigger a sense of reciprocity. When people feel that something has been done for them, they naturally feel inclined to return the favour.

This psychological quirk not only helps resolve conflicts but also fosters a deep bond and willingness to engage further.

The Potential of Unhappy Customers

Here’s where the magic happens: unhappy customers have the potential to become your best customers. When you successfully navigate through their dissatisfaction and provide a satisfactory resolution you have the opportunity to build an even stronger relationship.

Their initial negative experience can turn into a catalyst for loyalty, advocacy, and repeat business.

Customers Compare Extremes, Not Averages

In the realm of customer experiences, it’s essential to understand that customers compare extremes with extremes, not averages with averages. A neutral experience may leave them indifferent, but when you employ the power of reciprocity to transform that negative experience into an extraordinary resolution, the impact is profound.

The Ripple Effect of Reciprocity

By converting unhappy customers into satisfied ones, you not only gain their loyalty but also tap into the ripple effect of reciprocity. Satisfied customers tend to share their positive experiences with others, amplifying the reach of your brand’s reputation. Their word-of-mouth recommendation becomes a powerful marketing tool, attracting new customers and expanding your customer base.

Strategies for Leveraging Reciprocity

Now that we’ve explored the concept of reciprocity and its potential benefits, let’s discuss some strategies to leverage this principle effectively”

  1. Train your staff in conflict resolution: Equip your team with the necessary skills to handle customer complaints and conflicts with empathy, patience, and a focus on finding mutually agreeable solutions.


  • Prompt Communication: Respond to customer concerns in a timely manner and with sincerity. Customers want to feel that their feedback is valuable and that you genuinely care about resolving the issue.
  • Follow-up and check-ins: After resolving an issue, follow up with the customer to ensure their satisfaction. This gesture not only shows your commitment to their experience but also provides an opportunity to gather feedback and address any lingering concerns.

  1. Go above and beyond: When resolving customer issues, aim to exceed expectations. Offer personalized solutions, discounts, or free add-ons to showcase your commitment to customer satisfaction and create a memorable experience.
    1. Personalized offers: Blanket solutions rarely solve the nuances of real-world retail problems, be prepared to tailor your resolution to the specific needs and preferences of your customer.
  2. Loyalty Programs: Consider implementing a loyalty program for customers who have had a negative experience but remained loyal. Reward their trust and loyalty with exclusive discounts, early access to products, or VIP treatment. We delve deeper into this topic in another blog post if you are ready to explore this strategy.

Reciprocity is a powerful tool that can transform dissatisfied customers into your most loyal advocates.

By understanding the dynamics of reciprocity and leveraging it effectively, you have the opportunity to create strong relationships, enhance customer satisfaction, and generate positive word-of-mouth recommendations.

As a cannabis retail manager or owner, embracing the principle of reciprocity can elevate your brand’s reputation, attract new customers, and foster long-term success.

Remember, customers who compare extremes with extremes can become your best customers when you demonstrate your commitment to their satisfaction.

If this blog has you ready to embrace the power of reciprocity and turn negative experiences into positive relationships, make sure to subscribe to our newsletter. We help our subscribers tap into industry insights and recognize the signs of success to drive your business into higher profitability.

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