Kicking it with Eli Weiss
Meet our friend Eli Weiss, Senior Director of CX at Jones Road Beauty. Eli is a true customer experience savant in the world of eComm, and more importantly, he is a true homie with impeccable taste in snacks and beverages. In the world of eComm, he is forward-thinking on how brands take care of their customers. Even better, he looks after his people like they’re his own. Eli is curious and hard-working. He’s a trailblazer in the eCommerce and consumer space, someone who’s ahead on the trends or what’s “cool.” So, here’s a more intimate conversation with him, where we cover all sorts of topics, like growing up in an Orthodox Jewish family, being broke while traveling the world, stumbling into the startup world, guiding life principles, and how to think about CX differently… Enjoy!
Tell us about your background. Where were you raised, and what were you raised on?
My background has been a wild ride, and I wouldn't have it any other way. I'm the second oldest of ten children, raised in a traditional orthodox Jewish family from New Jersey. Growing up, I was surrounded by the warmth of my family and the deep-rooted values that shaped who I am today.
Instead of taking the college route, I went on a journey of self-discovery, traveling the world with points and miles and picking up life skills along the way. I explored 24 countries before I turned 24 years old, while most folks my age were in college. This unconventional path led me to the world of startups, an environment accepting of someone like me, who didn't fit "the norm" but had the skills and determination to make a difference.
That seems really fulfilling. And you've grown quickly in your career. What's it been like for you to step into a leadership roles so rapidly?
It definitely has been. Taking on a leadership role early on has challenged and transformed me.
I spent two years as Director of CX at OLIPOP and just rounded out a year as Senior Director of CX and Retention at Jones Road Beauty. Both are rapidly growing, category-creating brands. I've had to keep up with the rapid pace of change, adapt my thinking, and find innovative solutions to new challenges.
My unusual background prepared me for this; I've always been resourceful and able to adapt to new situations. Embracing change and focusing on continuous improvement has helped me guide my team through these exciting times and drive the company forward in a customer-centric way.
And having worked in CX, a function that is systematically broken, where have you seen the most change in CX in your experience? Where are brands are dragging the most?
There's no denying that customer service has been broken for a long time. But I've seen significant changes in the CX world throughout my career. Brands are realizing that a great customer experience is crucial for success. There's been a shift towards empathy, understanding, and putting customers first.
However, there are still some areas where brands need to catch up.
For example, outsourcing customer experience during the first six months of a product launch can mean missing out on valuable customer feedback. As ad costs have risen and COGs have gone up, we've seen some brands focus on taking care of their customers while others have had AI take over their entire CX function.
I firmly believe only one of these groups will have long-term success.
Empathy, understanding, love it. Do you have guiding principles that you live by?
I've always lived by a few guiding principles that have shaped how I work and show up in relationships.
First, always be adaptable and open to change. This mindset has allowed me to seize opportunities, learn from my experiences, and grow personally and professionally. Even about CX or Retention, I am very open to being proven wrong and always open to learning new things.
Second, treating people with empathy and respect, no matter their background or position, has also been essential, especially when working in customer experience. CX is about connecting with customers, understanding their needs, and reading between the lines.
Third, never stop learning and growing. If you're curious and constantly seeking new knowledge, you'll stay ahead of the curve and bring fresh ideas. This commitment to growth has been instrumental in my career, especially with my unconventional background.
On the work side, how do you think about building out CX as a channel? Is there a playbook for it?
When it comes to building CX as a channel, there's no one-size-fits-all playbook. Each brand should develop a unique strategy aligning with its goals, values, and customers. That said, some key elements can be part of any CX strategy:
1. Look at the entire customer journey, from first contact to post-purchase support. Could you ensure your brand delivers on its promises and meets customer expectations at every stage? Most brands are excited about "surprise and delight" but haven't yet met the basic customer expectations they set.
2. Be open and communicate clearly. Customers appreciate honesty and being kept in the loop, so ensure you provide the information they need, even if it's not the perfect answer.
3. Foster a customer-centric culture within your organization. Encourage empathy and understanding, and empower your team to make decisions that benefit the customer. A great CX touches every part of the business, from growth to brand marketing, and ops to social.
4. Share customer insights and learnings across your team. Encourage collaboration and open communication between departments to ensure everyone can access valuable customer feedback. This can help shape product development, marketing strategies, and overall business decisions, creating a more cohesive and customer-focused brand.