NICK ALECK

SENIOR USER EXPERIENCE DESIGNER | PHOTOGRAPHER

Over ten years of experience designing usability solutions for brands like Blue Cross Blue Shield, Groupon, Allstate, DePaul University, Sony,  Vitamin Water, Atlantic Records and Northwestern University

Master of Science degree from DePaul University's Human-Computer Interaction program

 

Aleck Plumbing Digital Marketing Strategy

When Aleck Plumbing premiered its Facebook page back in 2009, many were confused as to how a plumbing company could find a use for the social network. This was the same year that the company unveiled its online appointment scheduling system and its Twitter account.

It was my suggestion that led to the creation of these approaches and actually proved to help the company stay afloat during a time when home remodeling and new construction went through a devastating lull. Aleck Plumbing has always strived on being the neighborhood plumber. This meant sponsoring little league teams, placing advertisements on local restaurants’ placemats, having an advertisement in the bulletins for places of worship and donating to local charity events. With social media, I realized that our customers were also in a new neighborhood, a digital one that the users controlled and one that cost very little to connect with them. Once the idea of creating these digital spaces was presented, my next approach was deciding which should come first. Since the bread and butter of the company was its service department, I spoke with the service dispatcher to find out how people were making appointments. She said that she noticed a lot more were either calling while driving or making a discreet call on the fly while at work. This helped to justify that the online scheduling system was going to be the first to be developed from the to-do list.

Although it was simple PHP form, it was a way to create a new form of communication between the company and its customers. Now, they could simply think about the leaky faucet in the bathroom, login to our website and make the appointment right away. Previously, this would have required the customer to write down the phone number and remember to call at some point. This created an immediate action to have the service taken care of right away – without having to whisper on the phone at the office.

Next up was creating the media that would help to brand the Facebook and Twitter accounts. Using the guidelines on both sites, I used Photoshop and Illustrator to create different headers, logos and incorporated photography into the designs to quench the media thirst of social network patrons. Our initial presence on each of these networks involved posting images of the signature fleet of navy blue Aleck Plumbing service trucks – a calling card that still leads to a significant amount of business. The image of the clean, detailed and organized trucks have helped to legitimize the brand and showcase what customers can expect when they have a service call. We also featured introductions to the technicians on the different crews to help customers get more familiar with the men who make late night service calls the night before Thanksgiving dinner to clear the kitchen sink clog. 

By using these digital spaces we were actually able to create an even stronger neighborhood presence with our customers by posting periodically for a brief appearance in their feeds. Our truck may not be driving by, but the clean crisp imagery and graphics were showing up and helping to connect the customers with their reliable neighborhood plumber. Since these premiered, we have now extended our reach to service oriented sites like Angie’s List and the Better Business Bureau. Public reviews from our customers are largely housed on these other sites as well and have proven to put the customer more in control of the options they have for service technicians.