Originally from Arvada, CO, located just outside of Denver, Lane came to South Florida in 1996 to take a job as a studio engineer in radio. He met his wife here, and realized that he’d have to get out of radio if he wanted to be able to support a family. So he ended up in technical support at Verio, where he spent almost 10 years managing support teams where the customer experience was the #1 priority.
“I was lucky to join Verio at a time when there was a lot of customer focus,” Lane said. “I sort of grew up [professionally] in that environment, where we put the customer first and the priority was to make a difference.”
Lane and his wife have four kids; needless to say, they don’t have a lot of free time. In fact, he reluctantly admitted the last movie he saw was Despicable Me with the whole family at the drive-in. [Who knew there were drive-ins anymore?] And though he loves to scuba dive, he thinks it’s been at least 12 years since last strapping on a tank.
He says he sometimes misses the “chilly” Colorado winters, but all his in-laws are here in Florida, so he’s accepted his fate. When asked what he likes most about Florida, he simply replied: “December.”
Hmmm. Good thing Lane has a great job in an air-conditioned office.
LL: What appealed to you about Applied Innovations?
LV: The big thing that drew me to AI was the culture of the organization. It’s a company that truly wants to do the best thing for the customer. To provide a superior experience. And what has impressed me from the start is simply the knowledge of the team overall. There are a lot of really bright people here.
LL: What are the most interesting opportunities in this new position?
LV: Basically, I’m looking deeply into improving or implementing various back end systems that will enable us to provide a better support experience for our customers. I have a pretty aggressive 90 day plan, perhaps more ambitious than is realistic. I’m focused on defining policies and procedures that will elevate our service and support standards to exceed customer expectations. I’m looking at all the systems we use, from ticketing to the phone system, to how to make the most useful, most comprehensive information available to customers.
LL: Jess Coburn, founder and CEO of Applied Innovations, refers to you as his “Top Dog Customer Advocate.” Can you talk a little bit about that?
LV: Absolutely! It means my #1 priority is to look at everything Applied Innovations does from the perspective of the customer. My job is to make things run smoothly for the customer at all times, and to build on our past success in customer retention, problem resolution and overall satisfaction. So everything I do is designed to support our goal of Total Customer Satisfaction.
LL: What were some of your personal takeaways from the recent Applied Innovations Customer Survey?
LV: I think the overall response was amazing, and I was particularly interested in reading the individual comments that so many customers took the time to articulate. 86% of respondents rated our Tech Support a 4 or 5 out of 5, which is pretty astonishing. 74% are “totally satisfied” with their plan and with Applied Innovations and 75% say they’d recommend AppliedI to others. But while I think most hosting companies would be satisfied with those numbers, we know that means we have room to improve. My job is to increase those numbers across the board, and I know we can do it.
LL: Do you have a saying you’re known for? A slogan or Mantra, if you will?
LV: I think the team is already familiar with something I say whenever we run into a problem: “It is what it is.” I guess it’s an updated version of “No use in crying over spilled milk.” I mean don’t dwell on the problem; just look at what you can do to fix it. To make a difference. To make things better.
LL: What’s your favorite guilty pleasure?
LV: Once in a while I actually have a couple of hours to kick back and catch up on some of my favorite prime time TV. Things like Burn Notice, Psych, Warehouse 13, True Blood. But I’m a little disappointed with True Blood this season so far. I was a huge Lost fan.
LL: How do you rank your “Geek Factor”?
LV: Aw, I guess I’m a geek at heart. I really enjoy programming. I’m fascinated by electrical engineering and have studied electronics for years. But funny thing, when a previous employer got everyone in the department an iPhone, I really resisted. I had a nice Windows-based smart phone at the time that was great and just didn’t buy into the whole Apple thing. But after about 3 weeks, I was hooked. I even bought an iPad right away when it came out. I don’t really surf the web on it much, but I have it loaded with all kinds of books and techy geek stuff. And when the iPhone 4G was released, I picked up an older 3G model for my wife. She was totally against it, but after 3 days she’s a convert. Now my two older kids want iPhones, too.
LL: So let me wrap with a truly inspired question to reveal the essence of Lane Vance: What did you want to be when you grew up?
LV: [laughs] What else? An astronaut.
Sounds like big thinking, confidence and optimism come to Lane naturally. And the consensus among customers and staff is that he’s a natural fit and a terrific addition to the Applied Innovations team.