I’ve always believed it to be key to acquire your first beta customer, have laser focus, and pay attention to everything that takes place (both good and not so good — this is how you learn and improve). At the end of the day, your beta customer is your baby, and you have to work it and build that relationship by listening to their needs and providing solutions to their problems to help their business be more successful while making sure your product or service is performing as best as possible.
As part of my series about the five things a business should do to create a Wow! customer experience, I had the pleasure of interviewing Jason Cragholm.
Jason Cragholm is a 15-year quality and customer feedback industry veteran and the founder of QualSCORE, a brand reputation management platform for the cannabis and hemp industries that is revolutionizing the way business metrics are measured. Through the QualSCORE platform, businesses can collect reliable data and measure quality, safety, efficacy, and customer satisfaction to a universal standard so they can make better decisions, build loyalty, and win in the marketplace.
Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started?
I grew up in Lafayette, California, a small, quiet town in the heart of the San Francisco Bay Area and the California cannabis movement. I spent the early part of my career working as the Director of Sales and Marketing for a leading residential and commercial painting company in the Bay Area.
It was during this time that I realized the importance of quality and customer service to business growth, which led me to my next role at American Ratings Company. As a leading consumer brand in the San Francisco Bay area, American Ratings Company offers the Diamond Certified rating for B2C companies in multiple industries.
The next stop in my career was a role with Customer Lobby, a technology leader in retention marketing and customer reviews for B2B companies in several industries. Here, I honed my knowledge of software automation.
As I was moving through my career, the cannabis industry was growing in California and throughout the country. I saw there was a lack of quality standards and measurement in the industry as well as a significant problem with fake online reviews for products and brands that allowed the bad actors in the industry to thrive while the good actors struggled.
It was at this time that I decided to merge my technology background and my love of helping businesses and consumers resolve complaints and improve quality with the cannabis industry, which had exceptional growth potential but also some big problems I knew I could solve with the right tools and software. From there, QualSCORE was born.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?
I launched my business on Good Friday last year. It was my coming out party, and I made my first announcement that QualSCORE was born on Good Friday.
I thought that the masses were going to rush to my door signing up for my system left and right throwing money at me. No, that’s not what happened. That’s not how it works.
I learned there is a slow, snail-like process to business that I’m learning about. It’s not as easy as people think, even with a home run idea. The good news is I’m figuring it all out and I see bright days ahead for QualSCORE.
It’s funny, I tell people I’ve been working the hardest I’ve ever worked in my life for the past 2.5 years and I feel I’m just crossing the starting line for my business.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
I won’t say the name of the person but the best two words of advice to me was, “Keep going.” Those are two wonderful words to say to yourself if you are an entrepreneur — in good times and bad.
Thank you for that. Let’s now pivot to the main focus of our interview. This might be intuitive, but I think it’s helpful to specifically articulate it. In your words, can you share a few reasons why great customer service and a great customer experience is essential for success in business?
Without great customer service and great customer experiences, businesses will fail. They won’t get repeat sales and they won’t attract new customers. It’s that simple.
I’ve been involved in quality and customer experiences for the past 15 years, and I’m truly passionate about it. As the cannabis industry grew across the country, I knew I wanted to develop a way for consumers to find the best, safest products and for the best businesses and brands to stand out from competitors by having an easy, affordable, and automated way to differentiate themselves based on quality and customer happiness.
The best way for companies to do it is by collecting customer feedback that allows consumers to tell those companies what they liked and didn’t like about their experiences with that business and its brands. That’s why I developed QualSCORE where cannabis businesses and brands can collect real feedback, resolve complaints, and earn their QualSCORE Quality Ratings — a 0–100 metric that allows consumers to compare cannabis brands apples-to-apples. With this metric, businesses are held accountable for providing ongoing quality in every customer experience. If a business has a high QualSCORE, consumers instantly know they’re buying from a brand they can trust.
We have all had times either in a store, or online, when we’ve had a very poor experience as a customer or user. If the importance of a good customer experience is so intuitive, and apparent, where is the disconnect? How is it that so many companies do not make this a priority?
It’s shocking to me. At QualSCORE we have a saying, “No customer is left behind,” similar to how Marines never will leave their fallen. My guess is that leaders of companies that do not make customer experience and happiness a priority are solely driven by profits, and that’s why they’ll come up short almost every time.
Do you think that more competition helps force companies to improve the customer experience they offer? Are there other external pressures that can force a company to improve the customer experience?
It’s a fact that the companies that get the most accurate feedback about what their customers want win in the marketplace.
If companies don’t improve the customer experience, customers will shop somewhere else, especially now with such an increase in competition in the digital world.
Can you share with us a story from your experience about a customer who was “Wowed” by the experience you provided?
Helping is in QualSCORE’s DNA and that’s how we work day-in and day-out. For instance, in the sales part of my business I tell myself we don’t sell people, we help people. All we want to do is help and to be of service to the cannabis industry. When you can brand your business as accountable, by being responsive to communications (good and bad) you will win in the end, in my opinion. Do the right thing when no one is looking, that’s a brand that I want to work with. One of the most attractive parts about working with us that always gets brought up by people we serve is our enthusiasm to go above and beyond to make sure everyone is taken care of to the best of our ability. When your customers love working with you because it feels like a friendship, that’s when you know you’re doing something right.
Did that Wow! experience have any long term ripple effects? Can you share the story?
I believe in being honest, fair, and transparent with my customers and partners. If I continue executing on this “Wow! experience,” the future will be bright for QualSCORE as we build our reputation for having honesty and transparency baked into our brand’s DNA.
Ok, here is the main question of our discussion. Based on your experience and success, what are the five most important things a founder or CEO should know in order to create a Wow! Customer Experience. Please share a story or an example for each.
- Focus on the customer.
- Listen to your customer.
- Learn from your customer.
- Deliver the WOW Customer Experience by exceeding customer expectations.
I’ve always believed it to be key to acquire your first beta customer, have laser focus, and pay attention to everything that takes place (both good and not so good — this is how you learn and improve). At the end of the day, your beta customer is your baby, and you have to work it and build that relationship by listening to their needs and providing solutions to their problems to help their business be more successful while making sure your product or service is performing as best as possible. I was able to work with the team at Strawberry Fields to improve our software’s functions and capabilities. With that said, because of this experience, I can confidently say that we are friends with their team. Once you can get to that type of relationship with your clients, it will be hard to break that bond in the future.
Are there a few things that can be done so that when a customer or client has a Wow! experience, they inspire others to reach out to you as well?
It is good business practice to ask a customer to spread the good word about your business, but just know that if you WOW a customer, they will be telling all their family and friends about it without you needing to ask.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Good will conquer evil in the end. “Do the next right thing, always.”
How can our readers follow you on social media?
They can visit QualSCORE.net. They can also connect with me personally on LinkedIn at Linkedin.com/in/jason-cragholm.
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!