The inaugural Modern Retail Vanguard list highlights the behind-the-scenes talent propelling the world’s top retail brands. To read more about who else we selected and why, click here.
Eli Weiss’s first job in customer service was a trial by fire.
Weiss, now the senior director of customer experience and retention at Jones Road Beauty, was living in Israel in 2016 and was looking to work at any company that was willing to hire a native English speaker without a college degree. He joined a luggage brand that had raised a Kickstarter campaign – but was two years late on getting its products to backers.
“It was the epitome of crisis customer support,” Weiss says. But working at a startup gave him the chance to dabble in everything from MailChimp to Facebook ads to Amazon– which showed him how all of these things could impact the customer experience. “Through that experience, I started realizing that CX is more than support,” he said.
Since then, Weiss has gone on to work in customer service and retention at multiple buzzy, digitally-native startups including Olipop and Simulate. Now, he’s at Jones Road Beauty, the second act of makeup mogul Bobbi Brown. In just three years, Jones Road Beauty has built a rabid fanbase, tripling revenue between 2021 and 2022, and accumulating a Facebook group with nearly 25,000 superfans.
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Weiss is also the author of a newsletter on customer service and retention that has garnered nearly 9,000 subscribers. On social media, a space that’s often dominated by growth marketers sharing Facebook ad hacks, Weiss has gotten more people talking about the often-overlooked areas of customer service and retention. As an industry, Weiss says that retail often “really, really underpays CX more than any other part of the business, while simultaneously saying that we love our customers.”
Weiss started really dabbling in both customer service and retention – which are often split into two functions – at Olipop. When Weiss joined the prebiotic soda company in the middle of the pandemic, it didn’t have a real email or SMS program. He offered to work on those in addition to his customer service work. He joined Jones Road Beauty in 2022 because “a guy jumping into a beauty was the furthest thing from comfort for me.”
Jones Road Beauty is the first place where Weiss has both “customer service” and “retention” in his job title. “This [role] is much more holistic when it comes to the customer journey,” Weiss said. In addition to overseeing the customer experience team, Weiss also works with marketing on what hooks might work well in an ad based on the conversations he has had with customers. He’s even assisted with training retail staff as Jones Road Beauty has opened its first three stores.
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As Weiss puts it “when done well, CX is across the customer journey, and that includes retention.”