We sat down with the one and only Eli Weiss, Sr. Director of Customer Experience & Retention at Jones Road Beauty. With a decade-long experience in building and operating top DTC brands, like OLIPOP & Simulate, if there's one thing he knows for sure: you have to put the customer first.
Eli understands that customer retention is the core of CX because, at the end of the day, positive experiences lead to customer loyalty and repeat business.
Customer experience and retention are two sides of the same coin. Your job is to align them to work in harmony to ensure your customers aren’t just satisfied—they're coming back for doubles.
However, the main problem with customer retention today is that it’s either over-glamorized or misunderstood, says Eli.
Here's what's in store:
- The intersection of retention and CX: Why retention is the heart of CX
- Retention beyond communication channels: It's more than just email and SMS
- The rise of retention experts: Why brands are investing in dedicated roles
- Jones Road Beauty’s approach to retention: How to drive delightful customer experience that fuels growth
- BFCM and retention: Leveraging retention strategies during the holiday season
- Maximize your customers’ LTV: Two words → retention marketing
The intersection of retention and CX: Why retention is the heart of CX
Acquisition costs remained stubbornly high, leaving brands with a good-news, bad-news dilemma: getting new customers will be an uphill battle—that’s why retention should become the lifeblood of every business.
And if you want to keep customers coming back, you have to create an engaging customer experience. “Customer experience is why people come back, and everything else is an extra buzz,” says Eli.
The Jones Road Beauty team analyzed their net promoter score (NPS) to find out how likely customers are to recommend a product to their friends based on the experience they had, and they found out that customer experience is one of the main reasons why customers come back to the brand.
“Most of the customers that come back cite one of two things. The product was great, or the interaction I had with your team was great,” concludes Eli.
Retention beyond communication channels: It's more than just email and SMS
Brands have been conditioned to think that email and SMS marketing are the equivalents of retention. This is far from the truth. “Retention doesn’t equal email and SMS—retention equals creating an impactful experience,” says Eli.
Retention strategies extend beyond traditional channels like email and SMS, and brands need to think holistically about ways to keep customers engaged. To do so, they must keep a pulse on customer behavior and see what resonates.
“The future of retention is a deep understanding of what drove a customer to your brand and what continues to drive a customer to your brand and turning up the steam on that,” says Eli. Brands that want to stay ahead of the competition must understand different channels and deliver the right message to the right customer through the right channel.
The rise of retention experts: Why brands are investing in dedicated roles
The good news is that forward-thinking brands have realized retention is a strategic role, so we can finally see a boost in the number of brands hiring dedicated retention experts. However, we are still in the early stages, and there are only a few retention experts that think holistically about the ways to keep customers engaged, says Eli.
This begs the question: what is a true retention expert? While there is not one short definition, according to Eli, a retention expert is a strategic role that:
- Understands every touchpoint
- Gathers as many insights as possible and combines that with customer behavior
- Listens, understands, and genuinely cares about each customer's concerns.
Retention is half-science-half-art. Data is important, but without real customer behavior analysis, it can be misleading. “Sometimes there is a difference in what people say they like and what they actually purchase,” says Eli. That’s why setting up generic lead nurture lead sequences won’t bring results. Brands need retention experts to dig deeper and combine data points with actual customer behavior to understand customers’ needs and wants. Customer behavior on order #1 is a tremendous indicator of what will happen for the next orders.
Jones Road Beauty’s approach to retention that drives delightful customer experience and fuels growth
Jones Road Beauty uses post-purchase educational flows to improve CX and growth. The three main goals they want to achieve with the post-purchase flow are positive experience, continuous product reselling, and a lower return rate.
Eli’s CX and retention team asked the support team at Jones Road Beauty what are the top five problems they see in support requests and based on their answers, they’ve created educational flows that tackle customer questions proactively.
Another way to better understand customers is to collect first-party data and personalize the experience. That’s why a significant chunk of Jones Road Beauty traffic goes through a quiz because they’d rather get fewer customers but make sure that they all have the correct products.
“When it comes to CPG products, you are competing with wallet space,” says Eli. So you need to get creative—offering discounts or free returns won’t help you create loyal customers that keep coming back.
BFCM and retention: Leveraging retention strategies during the holiday season
For many merchants, the holidays are the most important time of the year. The Thanksgiving weekend can make or break the whole year’s performance. And while BFCM sales are crucial for brands, they struggle to keep these customers in the long run.
Can retention strategies help to turn one-time shoppers into loyal, repeat customers? Eli says they can, but there’s a catch: you must understand that BFCM shoppers are not the same as regular customers—you need to treat them differently and fine-tune your retention strategy.
Here’s where a cohort analysis can help. You have to understand the journey to be able to come up with the right strategy. “If customers are buying discount products, offer them a different product from your portfolio with a lower price point. If they ordered minis, offer them full-size products,” says Eli.
Besides this, make sure to stay connected with your customers after the BFCM purchase. Send them a thank-you email, ask for reviews, use push notifications through your mobile app, and provide personalized recommendations for future purchases. This period is an excellent opportunity to convert one-time buyers into loyal customers.
Actionable tips to nail retention this holiday season
To help you retain more customers this holiday season, we asked Eli to share his best tips on customer retention. Here’s the gist of it:
Personalized customer experience
To understand the buyer journey, ask yourself: when customers buy X, what do they buy next? To those that buy the Miracle Balm, the Jones Road Beauty team offers The Everything Brush instead of an eye cream which is slightly more expensive. The reason: they want to personalize the experience and show customers they care, instead of pushing product just for the sake of profit;
You have to stay close to your customer support team to collect and understand customer feedback. This way, you can understand the underlying motivations and desired outcomes;
Focus on resolving objections
Brands often spend too much time talking about benefits. According to Eli, benefits are shown in ads. Your job is to handle objections to get repeat purchases;
Go through negative reviews
Most brands invest time and energy in covering up negative reviews instead of putting themselves in customers’ shoes and using the feedback to improve the experience.
Analyze NPS scores:
Dedicate more time to analyzing your NPS score. This customer experience metric measures loyalty and is predictive of your business growth.
Understand return reasons
Don’t look at returns as headaches. Instead, analyze the data and look for common themes or patterns. Fixing frequent return reasons will lead to happy and loyal customers.
How to use feedback as leverage
The Jones Road Beauty CX and retention team puts customers at the heart of everything they do. How do they do it? They use feedback as their leverage. Here’s how you can do it too:
- Create a proactive post-purchase journey and educate customers before they get the product;
- Revisit flows and product emails and adjust them based on the feedback you’ve received;
- Create a customer-obsessed environment to fuel growth;
- Make product/service improvements based on customer behavior and preferences.
Maximize your customers’ LTV with retention marketing
Retention elevates customer experience, builds trust and loyalty, boosts customer satisfaction, and improves engagement. But to make the most out of it, you need to think holistically. While email and SMS are an important part of your marketing toolbox, you need to look for ways to supercharge your top customers.
Here’s where a mobile app comes in handy. With a seamless and convenient mobile experience, brands see more purchases and higher AOV. Data shows that clients' average order value is 20.9% higher in-app compared to online stores, and clients notice up to 56% higher conversion rate in-app compared to buying through a mobile website.
Besides having a significant impact on your bottom line, a mobile app can also help you drive community since the app can be a content hub for VIP customers, and you can use it to send push notifications for genuine engagement. Ready to make retention the lifeblood of your business? Let’s talk.