A Passion for Customer Care and Cannabis sends Charleswood’s Bean to the Top at Delta 9
Daniel Bean is proof that young Manitobans can be successful in this province. It takes passion, a thirst for knowledge, and a willingness to go the extra mile, but it’s a road worth taking!
The 33-year-old father of three started out as a Customer Service Representative (CSR) at Delta 9 and quickly worked his way up to the position of Customer Care Manager. He now manages a team of CSRs that would rank among the best in Canada in any industry.
Bean grew up in Charleswood, a neighbourhood in west Winnipeg, graduated high school and tried numerous different jobs before landing at at Delta 9. He went to work straight out of high school, and every job he took contributed in some way to his current success. After a brief stint in construction, Bean spent some time in the military where he learned how to pay attention to detail and stay cool under pressure. He then took a job in phone sales and discovered that people liked to talk to him.
“I don’t know why, but people just weren’t hanging up on me,” said Bean. “They'd stay on the phone and talk to me. The people in charge took notice and so did my wallet. So that's what I latched on to.”
Next came an even tougher door-to-door sales ramble, but a chance meeting with a woman who loved his sales pitch propelled him into car sales, where he learned that customer service was the ultimate skill for a salesman. Four years into his car sales job, cannabis legalization was on the radar and Bean thought it might be the next big thing.
He developed a passion for cannabis, started researching the industry in the evenings, and came across Delta 9 by accident while searching for information on local sources of medical cannabis and a strain called Super Lemon Haze. That led him to the Delta 9 Lifestyle Cannabis Clinic, which wasn’t even open yet, but he liked what he saw and signed up as a medical patient. He also applied for a job. The resulting interview with Delta 9 CEO John Arbuthnot led to a tour of the Delta 9 facility that would change Bean’s life.
“I was in heaven,” said Bean. “I was like a kid in a candy store, I was really excited to be there. At the end of the tour John offered me a job. It wasn’t in sales, it was as a CSR, but I could see the bigger picture. The Gold Rush was before my day, but this was the Green Rush, and I wanted in. It was clear to me that Delta 9 was going to be the company to succeed in Manitoba.”.
Bean’s past work experience helped him shine in his new position at Delta 9.
“If you want a customer to come back, you have to provide excellent service,” said Bean. “I applied what I had learned in sales to my job at Delta 9, showed compassion when dealing with customers, de-escalated any angry conversations, and had people smiling by the end of the phone calls.”
Delta 9 took notice of Bean’s customer service skills and six months later he was promoted to Customer Care Manager. He now manages a team of team of three people including Brandon Wiebe, who also does patient registrations; Jason Todd, who is also the sales coordinator for inbound and outbound sales; and Cecilia Wannan, who is also in charge of clinic relations.
Everyone on Bean’s team has been devouring cannabis research for years and they’ve continued to build on their knowledge through research, educational courses from companies including Lift & Co. and conversations with customers.
“We’re not rushing you off the phone,” said Bean. “I’ve had team members get tied up on calls for 45 minutes. They’re talking cannabis the entire time. We learn a lot from our phone calls. There’s a totally different atmosphere here. It’s a culture of learning, reading and investigating. I would have been fired a long time ago anywhere else for having cannabis on my screens. Here, we want to see it on our screens. This industry and the products within this industry are changing fast, and we have to keep up.”
The most common questions for the team? What are the effects of certain strains and what ailments are they good for?
“We advise customers to seek advice from a qualified medical professional,” said Bean, “But we can also offer insights based on customer feedback. That’s another reason why conversations with our customers are so important. We won’t provide insights unless we’ve actually received related feedback. Almost every phone call now leads to more questions and answers, so we’re constantly learning from our customers.”
Bean’s team also calls customers just to check in and see how they are doing, offering compassionate pricing where they can, and promotional deals if the customer hasn’t ordered in some time. It’s a friendly form of outbound sales.
“It works well,” said Bean “People are happy to hear from us, but the real secret is in treating people how you would like to be treated. Customer satisfaction is extremely important. Word of mouth spreads very, very quickly. We encourage people to call in if they have an issue because we do everything in our power to make it right. We don’t want people being dissatisfied with their Manitoba's Cannabis Company.
“We’re making sales but we’re playing the long-term game. These are customers we are going to serve for a very long time and they are going to influence other people to give us a shot. It’s a very competitive industry but we’ve assembled an amazing team that has knocked it out of the park from day one. They can confidently answer just about any customer questions.”
Many of Delta 9’s unique customer interactions are the result of a live chat on their website. Bean also engages with customers on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter and is considered to be the gatekeeper at Delta 9. He’ll answer the door, but he’ll also answer the phone and figure out who to transfer your call to.
“From business inquiries to politicians or university staff members wanting to come for tours, to investors and people wanting to partner with us, and marketing and advertising requests, we handle every type of engagement,” said Bean. “It’s all customer service. It’s like being a traffic director and a switchboard operator at the same time. One call will be asking where a store is located and the next might be asking if they can buy the store. No two conversations are alike, but there are many similar questions throughout the day. We learn from all of them.”
Left to Right: Dan Sousa (Customer Care turned Purchasing); Cecilia Wannan (Customer Care - Clinic Relations); Daniel Bean (Customer Care - Manager); Brandon Wiebe (Customer Care); Jason Todd (Customer Care - Sales Coordinator)
Bean’s team works 9-5 every day, including a weekend shifts. Store managers answer questions in the evenings. The only days his team is not at work is on statutory holidays. Customer service hours could increase in the future, as more stores open and call volume increases.
The next big things? Edibles and concentrates.
“We can talk about them with the best already,” said Bean. “We look ahead, see what’s coming and prepare in advance by learning everything we can, as accurately as we can, so that we can have those conversations when customers call. People are already calling in asking about edibles and concentrates, cannabis juice, beverages, candies, gummies and more.”
Bean also has a proven knack beyond his years for turning negative interactions into positive opportunities. On one occasion he noticed a negative post about Delta 9 on Facebook that occurred long before he became the Customer Care Manager. He invited the poster out for a tour of the Delta 9 Facility, she accepted and came out with her Dad and a friend.
“I introduced them to our (new) team and took them on the tour,” said Bean. “They were ecstatic. She even applied for a job before she left.
“I think it’s really important to create positive engagements with everyone, including people who might show a dislike for us. We try to understand where they’re coming from and take the high road. That’s how we always engage with customers and even non-customers, people that will never buy from us. We want to create a genuine interaction that they will be positive about.”
The ability to turn a negative interaction into a positive opportunity is a rare skill in the customer service industry, and one of the prized attributes among companies that have attracted investments from HubSpot Ventures, a $30 million fund that supports customer-first startups. One of the fund’s major goals is to support companies that are dedicated to building long-term customer relationships.
The customer is the ROI. And Bean knows it.