As the world keeps falling deeper into what many economists would refer to as a recession due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the cannabis industry has continued its strong, steady pace towards a higher market valuation. Although the industry was in a state of growth well before COVID-19, the intense growth that we have seen recently looks to have been influenced by great amounts of panic buying due to the global pandemic.
As this current uptick in the cannabis industry’s growth trajectory continues, how will the industry at large react? Many are pointing to automation technology to save the day; specifically chatbots. Let’s explore just how important chatbots are for keeping the cannabis industry in line as more orders are driven by deliveries rather than on-premise purchases.
How Chatbots Are Helping Other Industries
The use of chatbots in customer service industry has been growing steadily since its inception in the past few years. According to estimates, more than 67% of consumers worldwide used a chatbot for customer support in the past year and around 85% of all customer interactions will be handled without a human agent by 2020.
Chatbots have come a long way since their original iterations as well. Some are outfitted with artificial intelligence (AI) technology that allows them to learn from past conversations. This allows the chatbot to answer questions that were not attributed to answers from the original script based on learned responses. It’s these reasons why chatbots can save up to 30% in customer support cost and can help businesses save on customer service costs by speeding up response times and answering up to 80% of routine questions.
The Focus on Cannabis Industry Deliveries
Amid widespread COVID-19-related retail store closures, many cannabis dispensaries received “essential business” designations. This allowed cannabis consumers to stock up on medicinal and recreational cannabis, fueling strong sales figures despite a tumultuous Q1 2020. In short, the cannabis industry looks primed to weather the COVID-19 storm and come out stronger on the other side.
Some experts say that the cannabis industry has the potential to grow to as much as 130 million dollars per year in the near future. Of course, this all stems on whether the industry has enough manpower present to handle the uptick in demand that is driving the unprecedented growth.
With many brick and mortar cannabis shops having closed their doors due to COVID-19 earlier this year, many customers have been leaning on delivery services to fulfill their cannabis orders. But many delivery services were not set up to handle the influx of customer service requests and questions, which leaves them overwhelmed when they are faced with a big demand bump. This is where chatbots shine.
Medical Chatbots for Symptom and Strain Advice
On the other side of the coin, chatbots can be incredibly advantageous to those in the medical marijuana industry; providing medical advice to patients automatically. Due to the influx of patients being seen in U.S. hospitals due to COVID-19, many prescriptions for medications that medicinal cannabis can remedy have typically be put on hold. For these “new” cannabis patients, they still need a consultation of sorts to get screened and understand their ailments and figure out which strains and amounts that they need.
Just like with a regular, healthcare AI, you would tell the chatbot your symptoms and as much medical history as you feel comfortable disclosing. The chatbot will then use this information to suggest strains and products to help with your symptoms. It’s a convenient way to get some wellness advice without even having to leave the home.
What Does the Future Hold for Cannabis Chatbots?
Even though chatbots have been around for years and used in different capacities by a variety of industries, the cannabis industry may still have to adapt to this innovative technology to ensure there is a cohesive fit within the industry at large. For cannabis chatbots to work, they must be fluid at the point of sale for recreational and medicinal purposes. If they aren’t, then the customer will know they are speaking to a chatbot and often times will not complete the purchase. If the cannabis industry is to implement this technology into their delivery systems, they may have much more success at streamlining their processes as long as the chatbot is human-like in its conversational approach.