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How Customer Experience and Social Media Teams Work Together
Featuring an interview with Eli Weiss, Senior Director of Customer Experience & Retention at Jones Road Beauty.
“My order is delayed.”
“YOUR AIRLINE LOST MY LUGGAGE!”
“Is your website down?”
As we all know, social media has become a popular place for customers (and potential customers) to ask questions, report missing deliveries, give feedback, and just generally yell. As brands become more human online, customers expect their responses to also become more human. Yet, there really isn’t a clear playbook for how social media teams and customer experience teams should work together. Even when I think back to the companies that I’ve worked for, the ways social media and customer experience worked together looked vastly different across them all. Some ignored comments altogether. Others had community managers send commenters to customer experience using a standard response template. And some had customer experience team members responding to comments directly on social platforms.
As someone who is admittedly not an expert on what the *right* set up looks like, I asked Eli Weiss, Senior Director of Customer Experience & Retention at Jones Road Beauty, to talk me through how social media and customer experience work together on his team. We talk about why these roles shouldn’t be viewed as reactive, the various tools his team uses, if true community exists for a brand, and more.
Rachel Karten: First, can you tell me about your current job and any past social (or not!) jobs you've had?
Eli Weiss: I started my career as a generalist at a small Kickstarter brand, touching everything from CX to Ops and Growth. As the only native English speaker, I also handled all social media there.
Fast forward to a bit later on in my career when I landed a Director of Customer Experience OLIPOP—they CRUSHED Instagram but had no presence on Twitter. As a Twitter-obsessed person, I hopped in and led our Twitter strategy for most of my time there.
At both OLIPOP and my current job leading CX and Retention at Jones Road Beauty (JRB), the CX team leads community management and handles all social comments and DMs.
RK: Can you describe your customer experience philosophy in just a few sentences?
EW: While most brands preach putting the customer first and such, a quick look at the backend usually shows "customer-last" policies—cheap outsourced support and minimal-to-zero time spent listening to their customers.
My philosophy has always been that putting the customer first can dramatically change the trajectory of a business.
Product: the faster you listen to customer feedback, the quicker you can iterate and achieve the elusive "product-market fit."
Growth: leveraging customer insights helps you better understand your ideal customer to target, and the potential objections your ads should be resolving pre-purchase.
Word of Mouth: Memorable experiences break the script and drive your customers to tell others about how you made them feel.
Ask anyone about a memorable experience a brand delivered, and most will struggle to remember anything of note. The bar is extremely low.
Customer Service is reactive problem-solving. Customer Experience is proactively ensuring the brand is meeting expectations across the entire customer journey.
RK: How does your role at JRB interact with social media specifically? Are social media and community part of the customer experience team?
EW: At JRB, we have a standalone social team that lives in the marketing team and is responsible for curating and posting on all socials. However, all comments, replies, and DMs live in the CX house and get responded to by our CX team.
RK: Sounds like at JRB, CX, Community, and Social all work closely—why do you think that's important?
EW: As brands and teams grow, a bit of inconsistency in messaging and tone sometimes seeps in. It's really important to ensure you can keep all front-facing communication streamlined and consistent so that customers have the same experience with your brand, no matter the touchpoint.
While that starts with Social and CX, it also dips into the rest of your owned channels like email, SMS, and more.
Now, that by no means infers that every single word should be the same on social as email, and every response on social should be copy-paste. I strongly believe in different channels having unique tones, and I love the fact that every CX'er on our team has a slightly different tone.
RK: What tools do you use?
EW: We use Gorgias for customer experience and some comments on ads, but most of our community and moderation is done within the IG app 😆.
Editor’s Note: If responding in the app is too hardcore for you, I love using Sprout Social for community management. Not an ad, just a recommendation! - RK
RK: Something I see a lot is that when a brand is having a bad moment on the internet people tweet "sorry to ______'s social manager today"—do you have any advice for a social team who might be behind the keyboard on a day like that?
EW: Most folks that are great at social and community-building have high EQ and feel things deeply. We are always on the ball and on call.
It becomes hard to disassociate when customers are yelling at you about whatever someone on the other side of the office did.
Is it Shopify's Social Manager's fault if they are down today? Certainly not.
Will they take the brunt of the angry/frustrated customers? 1000% yes.
Detaching from the brand you so deeply care about and the persona you carry is a really tough act, but sometimes imperative to avoid burnout.
You can apologize and hold space for the others on your team, but it's by no means your weight to carry.
RK: I feel like community management, specifically, is such a vital role for brands that is often overlooked. If you were talking to a manager who didn't see the reason to hire someone for this role, what would you say to convince them?
EW: Community Management, much like CX, is viewed as a very reactive role.
"Customers are reaching out and commenting on our posts? Let's find someone to reply to them."
Brand leaders often fail to understand that the community team is the touchpoint that a huge chunk of potential (and current) customers engage with daily. It's what makes you "you," and it highly impacts the feelings folks will have about your brand.
RK: Speaking of community, talk to me about the FB group you recently launched? What's the goal of an initiative like that?
EW: When we launched the JRB Roadies community four months back, we had a singular vision: Create a space for Jones Road superfans to share their brutally honest thoughts and opinions so we can learn.
While thinking deeper into this, I had another idea in mind.
Imagine walking into a conference and seeing a Starbucks counter. Would you buy a coffee? Maybe.
Now, imagine every single person at the conference is holding one. Would you be more likely to buy a coffee?
Imagine we added a slew of superfans into this community and then slowly allowed in some newbies to mingle as well? The vision then expanded.
Sydney, our CX and Community lead, has built the most magical community of 8,000. I've never in my life seen the kind of engagement and kindness that I've seen in this group. It's truly next level.
But we are only just getting started...
RK: Do you think true community exists for a brand?
EW: A group of people liking a singular product is not a community, but a group of folks headed on a deeper and more meaningful mission together transcends that and falls higher on the hierarchy of needs. In the JRB case, it's a group of folks wanting to feel beautiful the way they are and not necessarily needing to cover up to feel perfect. That's a mission that a community can come together for, and a shared mission worth pursuing.
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