This is the first interview in a series spotlighting coworkers who make Bell’s the brewery it is.
If you’ve ever sent us an e-mail or DM on social media, you’ve probably communicated with Luke. Overseeing customer service for the brewery, Luke has an answer for everything related to our beer and company. So, who is the person on the other side of the message? We sat down with Luke to ask him some different kinds of questions to get to know him a little bit better:
Hi, Luke; thanks for joining us today. How did you end up working for Bell’s?
I was going to school at Western (Michigan University) for marketing, searching for what truly inspires me. At the time, I was just getting into craft beer and the community and businesses that surrounded it. I knew I wanted to be in it. Like many other people, I Googled: “How can I make money in beer?” I started looking for internships, but there weren’t a lot locally. I was like, “Hey, I’m in Kalamazoo, Michigan, and there’s Bell’s here.” So, I kind of just strived to do everything I could to get in the door.
So the other night, I talked to a customer service rep about canceling a subscription. It was a fine interaction, but I think I can speak for most people: talking to customer support service isn’t how I’d like to spend my free time. What about customer service and interacting with folks that you love so much?
There are basically two paths that I really enjoy: One is handling the technology behind everything that’s powering the communications. It’s kinda like building a puzzle. On the flip side of the coin, it’s embracing the fans who’ve had good experiences and are genuinely reaching out to share them. There’s a lot to say about somebody sending a business a message just to say, “Hey: we like what you’re doing.” It reinforces those positive experiences.
It’s beer; it’s fun, and it’s some of the best in the world. The reasons I was drawn to working at Bell’s: We’re not selling staplers. Nothing wrong with selling staplers, but it’s great to have a product like beer that people have fun with. It’s also always incredibly gratifying to talk to someone who may have had a negative experience with our brand and turn it around into something positive and memorable that they’ll hopefully talk about with their friends. Maybe our interaction started with a problem, but now they are going to drink the beer even more because Bell’s made it right. That’s really fun.
Our beer is fun, for sure, but it’s also some of the best out there. What’s it like to be representing such iconic brands like Two Hearted and Oberon on a day to day basis?
From a company-wide perspective, I’ve always been driven by the quality of our beers: it’s fantastic, it’s world class, so how can the rest of the brewery meet those standards? Our beers set that benchmark. So I’ve thought about what that means for our customer service — like if Two Hearted is one of the top IPAs, what does top-tier customer service look like? What are the highest expectations our consumers have? Often times, people don’t expect a response when they reach out to a company, so when we call back, when we surprise and delight, when we not only provide a speedy response but also a robust answer, that’s the standard we word towards.
What experience have you had with a company as a customer that has impacted in the work you do at Bell’s?
For me, it was Chewy, the pet supplies company. At one point, they focused on investing heavily in their consumer experience online and, specifically, their interactions with customers, including everything from sending condolence cards to folks that lost their pets. They showed that they cared. It’s a great inspiration when a company invests in its customer service operations — people notice it, especially because it’s not often done.
Dogs and pets have a special place in our lives, as does beer. What role do beers like Two Hearted and Oberon play in our customers’ lives?
It’s a wide range: there are the super insanely excited fans that identify with Two Hearted like it’s their brother, who’ve been drinking it most of their lives, likely with their actual brother. People have legitimate milestones in their lives that are connected to our beer. Countless people have reached out and shared these stories. It’s really touching to see that something like a beer can bring people together.
We sat next to each other for the better part of our careers here, and I always loved hearing the stories you shared from fans about our beers. There was the woman who wanted to propose to her boyfriend, and we made a custom Two Hearted label for when she popped the question. You can’t make this stuff up.
No, yeah, totally. We did that, right? We’re always listening for opportunities to make people happy. Yes, selling beer is a product, but at the core, we’re humans. One story that sticks out most to me is a fan who was fighting cancer and had a rough stint with chemotherapy. Her husband reached out to let us know that he bought some Oberon for her to have when her treatment was finished. She ended up beating cancer and had our beer to celebrate. That’s really touching that we can be there for those moments.
It really is. So, Luke, what inspires you?
You know, that’s a layered question, for sure. Whether directly or indirectly, what inspires me is making people happy. That’s why my career has led to where I’m at right now. I genuinely enjoy having the opportunity day in and day out to make people happy or take somebody that’s not happy and turn it around and make them happy. I really am inspired by these people walking away excited about an interaction they have with us, and we can make them as happy as our beer makes us.
That’s a tall order because Two Hearted sure makes me pretty happy. Thanks, Luke, for taking the time to chat with us. This was a lot of fun.