With more and more companies being created entirely online, customer experience has never been more important. Luke Alley, VP of Marketing at Avalaunch Media, sits down and talks with Joe about how Avalaunch Media has been able to stand out by building relationships, changing the culture, and transitioning to remote working with visuals. Luke provides his thoughts about the future of CX and why individual transactions may not be the answer.
Luke attended BYU Idaho for undergrad before pursuing a Master’s degree from the University of Utah. A self-proclaimed “busy body,” Luke usually has something he’s working on the side. Most recently teaching for a year at BYU in their digital marketing department.
After attending school in Idaho, Luke worked his way into a small agency before becoming the very first employee of Utah’s Avalaunch Media in 2012. Avalaunch is a full-service digital agency whose steady growth has led them to now having over 50 employees, working mainly with mid to large size companies outside of Utah.
Building Relationships in an Age of Distraction
Having a very relationship-centric mindset is a core to how Luke approaches his professional and personal life, so he lucked in when that philosophy was equally important to Avalaunch.
He references a book he’s recently gained a lot of insight from titled Brand Orbits. The “Orbits” in questions is an acronym meaning “Ongoing Relationships Beyond Individual Transactions” representing a mentality shift from “what’s in it for me as a business” to creating a framework that encourages meaningful relationships. Luke says many brands are attempting to evolve into more of this strategy.
This is the distinguishing factor between companies that just have audiences and those that can foster community.
The Key to Customer Retention
At the risk of sounding cliche, Luke insists it all goes back to people.
He says at Avalaunch they go out of their way to hire a specific type of person and practice what they preach in terms of forming a certain type of relationship.
Of course, a company needs the core framework to be there when interacting with customers, but after that their main focus is going to be how interacting with the business’s product and the people who work there makes them feel. Customers can tell when a company doesn’t truly care. If you’re truly invested, the consumer can sense that, and it pays dividends. That’s why Luke is all about soft skills and focusing on the human side.
Humanizing the Corporate Experience
Visuals go a long way in terms of communication and relationship building in the digital age, especially in the time of predominantly remote-work.
From every type of social media, to screen recorders and video meeting software like Zight (formerly CloudApp) and Zoom, there are seemingly endless ways to enhance the traditionally text-based interaction. Effective use of visuals can make all the difference when trying to build a meaningful experience for a potential client.
Non-verbals and body language can give so much insight into how a conversation is going, something I’m sure we all miss in our newly-remote lives. Luke encourages his team at Avalaunch to utilize visuals as much as possible and to try to keep the video turned on during Zoom calls, even if it’s a little uncomfortable at first.
Going the Extra Mile
When asked about the future of customer experience, Luke mentions the tried and true classic example of Chick-fil-a, which has become essentially the gold standard of customer service for all industries.
It’s important to note that this overall impression of having a fantastic relationship with customers is achieved in the small details, and is something that any business can replicate with some effort. This doesn’t take significant time, effort, or resources, and yet many businesses don’t take advantage of it. Making a person feel like they matter, saying their name, creating a comfortable and friendly environment- all little things that can make a world of difference and keep customers coming back for more.
Customer Experience Predictions
Luke believes that the accessibility of technology will lead to more and more average, mid-tier businesses (moderately-priced hotels, for example) doing the little things to put the “cherry on top” for the customer, to where it’ll become the norm.
By utilizing software, companies will be able to produce more personal and customized feeling experiences from customers from start to finish, even if it’s as simple as the concierge already knowing your name when you pull up to the hotel. Top-tier businesses are already doing this, but widespread use will lead to a trickle-down making it the industry standard.