Jacopo D’Alessandris of E-Alternative Solutions: “Let your customers and vendors know how important this is for you”

Let your customers and vendors know how important this is for you. Many times, a poor customer experience can happen in a store that you don’t control, but it ultimately results in a negative connotation for your brand. It is important to work proactively with your retailers and vendors to make sure that the voice […]

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Let your customers and vendors know how important this is for you. Many times, a poor customer experience can happen in a store that you don’t control, but it ultimately results in a negative connotation for your brand. It is important to work proactively with your retailers and vendors to make sure that the voice of the consumer is heard across the value chain.

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 Jacopo D’Alessandris.

Jacopo D’Alessandris is the President and CEO of E-Alternative Solutions (EAS), an independent, family-owned business with a focus on innovative, research-tested, compliant consumer products. In his current role, Jacopo directs all functions of the enterprise, including strategic development, sales, marketing, and corporate citizenship.

Since joining EAS in 2016, D’Alessandris has grown the company from a single brand to a brand incubator, specializing in highly regulated, emerging industries with a focus on alternative options for the adult consumer. Under his stewardship, EAS cultivates deeply collaborative relationships with retail partners, advocates conscientious marketing, and ensures that business strategies are underpinned by data and research.

Prior to joining EAS, D’Alessandris served as a consumer goods executive with Philips and L’Oréal, where for twenty years he held various marketing, sales and general manager positions across Europe, Latin America and North America. Most recently, as the Head of Marketing for Philips in North America, he led the Norelco, Sonicare and Avent brands, among others.

A native of Milan, Italy, Jacopo speaks four languages and holds a Master of Science in Management from the Stanford Graduate School of Business (MSx Sloan Fellowship). He lives in New York City with his wife and two children.

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 am an enthusiastic marketer at heart: from my early days in my home country Italy, to my most recent years in the U.S., I have always been obsessed with making sure that the consumer products I develop and sell would WOW consumers and provide a noteworthy experience worth sharing with friends and family. Whether it’s the new smell of a Fructis shampoo, or how the latest Norelco razor protects from in-grown hair, or the extra long-lasting battery of our Leap e-vapor system… no matter what product I have been working on, the goal has always been to overdeliver on what is important for the consumers using it.

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?

My first job was a L’Oréal sales rep for haircare salons in the south of Italy. There, every salon owner has an espresso machine, and they all want you to sit and have coffee with them as you do your sales pitch. After a few 7–8 espresso days I quickly realized that I had to switch to decaf coffee if I wanted to sleep at night!

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?

My wife and I met while working together at L’Oréal and have similar careers. She knows me better than anyone else and we talk a lot about work. She helps me bring perspective and compassion to any issue I am facing.

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?

Have you ever heard about consumers being like “dogs” or “cats?” If you are or have been a dog or cat owner, I am sure you’ll appreciate the reference. When I grew up, consumers were like dogs: as a brand if you insisted (by spending a lot of money in TV and other mass advertising) they would end up coming to you and buying your product. Today, social media has empowered consumers to a point where they are the ones who end up choosing whether or not they want to try your product. The consumer purchasing decision is much more complex than before and made of many different aspects, most of them influenced by their own experiences and their friends and families. Like a cat, they are ultimately the decision makers of whether they want to try your product or not, no matter how much you insist. You can spend millions of dollars in advertising, but if there has been a poor customer experience in the past or a set of bad reviews on a website, no matter how much you insist, they won’t be convinced.

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?

All companies say that they put consumers at the heart of everything they do, but it is easier said than done. In my experience, poor customer experience originates from a cultural breakdown in how the company values are perceived across the entire organization. Senior management might say something, but that positive value does not trickle down to the personnel in the stores or answering the phone.

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?

Competition is always good; it keeps you sharp and focused and prevents you from taking anything for granted. However, there’s a catch: positive customer experience takes time to build, it’s a long-term investment that does not pay out immediately. If competitive pressure pushes prices and margins too low, that could ultimately result in long-term negative consumer experience.

Can you share with us a story from your experience about a customer who was “Wowed” by the experience you provided?

We received a letter from a consumer a few months ago. It is a 12 page (!) letter outlining her experience using our Leap product, how our talented customer service team helped her out, and comments and suggestions on how to make this great product even better. In 25 years of work experience I have never read anything more constructive and thought out, totally unsolicited.

Did that Wow! experience have any long term ripple effects? Can you share the story?

Everyone in the organization has read this letter, and we are using it to provide us with specific insights on what’s important for our users as we are working on new product development platforms.

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.

Culture starts at the top: you cannot ask your organization to be consumer centric if you do not spend time doing it as well. Share positive (or negative) consumer stories, praise customer service individuals that go above and beyond, read website reviews and listen in on customer service calls.

Let your customers and vendors know how important this is for you. Many times, a poor customer experience can happen in a store that you don’t control, but it ultimately results in a negative connotation for your brand. It is important to work proactively with your retailers and vendors to make sure that the voice of the consumer is heard across the value chain.

Reward those who go above and beyond, even if they are not part of your organization. At the height of the pandemic, we decided to launch a program called “Essential Retail Community Champions”, and have awarded hundreds of gift cards to the essential retail workers that kept their communities going during the pandemic and did it with a smile on their faces!

Be transparent and multiply the options for consumers and customers to provide feedback. I am shocked to see that some large institutions do not have a simple feedback loop, such as chat function or a simple 1–800 number for customers to call. Sometimes people just want to feel they are being heard and want to help you succeed. Negative or positive, feedback is always good.

Educate your shareholders about the long-term power of customer experience: use board meetings and other shareholder meetings to present how you are learning from negative experiences and building on positive ones. It will help educate your leadership to stay focused on the long term and avoid short term shortcuts that can damage positive word of mouth.

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?

When we moved to our new offices a few months ago, we took the initiative to add a “kudos wall,” a space where we could post all the positive notes and “thank yous”, from customers and consumers. A simple yet powerful reminder of why we are working so hard: to delight our consumers and customers. Located in a high-traffic area where all of us go by when coming in and out of the office, it fuels us with positive energy, reminding us about what ultimately EAS is all about: a company created by passionate individuals that will last for generations.

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. 🙂

Too much of what we do is driven by ego, but I think the best decisions that are more positive for our communities are the selfless ones, driven by absence of ego. Like the #metoo movement, I could see myself launching a #notaboutme hashtag movement to praise anonymous initiatives that focus on the greater good rather than the individual one.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Twitter: @jdalessandris


This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!

Thank you!

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