Luke Alley, VP of Marketing at Avalaunch Media talking CX

May 13, 2020
To listen to the full episode, click here

Joe: (00:00)
Welcome to the DNA and Experience podcast from CloudApp, where we discuss how and why creating an experience is so important and the psychology behind what makes an experience. So great. Thanks for joining us. Hey, I am excited today to have Luke with avalanche media with me today. Luke is a VP of marketing over there. Uh, we've been connected to a long time on, Uh, I stole someone from avalanche that Luke worked with, uh, and she's on my team now also based in Utah. Um, and I think is the first Utah guest I've had, which is a lot of fun, uh, hopefully of many more in the future, but Luke has some greats, uh, Background in marketing and working with lots of different companies And consulting and also leading an avalanche. So I thought he'd be a good guest to have on today. Luke, if you wouldn't mind kind of telling us a little bit about yourself, uh, going through some of your background and then we can kind of roll into a customer experience.


Luke: (01:09)
Sure. Yeah. Well, it's good to be on Joe and, uh, and, uh, it's a small world in the youth agency and digital space. So even though you wanted to stole someone,  it happens. Um, well Maile's there. Hi Maile. Hopefully we miss her. She was awesome. It was awesome, but no, yeah, my background, so I'm vice president of strategy here at avalanche. Um, I was the first employee here back in 2012. Um, I came from a small little agency up in Idaho. Uh, that's where I went to school and, um, came down here to Utah to the, to the big city and kind of took a, a chance here with, uh, Babylon. We were dreamed systems media at the time. And, uh, I just, I knew the guys here gave me Matt sill, Tila, Andy Milky, or, um, Jason Kallen. Those were the, the, uh, founders and owners. And, uh, just took a shot at a, what I thought would be a right move. And it's panned out we're, we're about 50 strong right now and, um, just a steady, steady growth here. Uh, we're a full service digital agency, um, and we help actually more clients outside of Utah than, than in Utah. We kind of worked with more medium, large, large sized businesses. Um, so yeah, that's what I'm doing now. Went to school at BYU, Idaho for my undergrad. Um, I got my masters at university of Utah. Um, I'm kind of a busy body. I it's hard for me to sit still. So I'm like always doing something on the side. I just taught at BYU for a year and their, their digital marketing department. Um, I I've, I've taught some other online places, spoke at a lot of places. Um, just kind of like being out there and like, like helping as much as I can, um, got four kids that keep me busy teaching at BYU to try to try to get some more in my life and spend some time with my family and wife. And, um, it's been a nice, nice couple months actually. I was working out this morning. I haven't been able to work out the morning reliable and start to show a little bit and I'm kind of getting a little bit more balanced, but, um, yeah, that's a, that's a little about me.

Joe: (03:19)
Awesome. I, I, yeah, I've resisted teaching to this point. Uh, I've had some opportunities at Utah and BYU and yeah, I've been actually a couple of them were like, I'm going to be out of town once when I was at Adobe, it's like, I'm going to be gone to San Jose like three of the eight weeks. Is that right?

Luke: (03:39)
That's probably not going to work. It's the feeling. And that's a big shout out to the avalanche that they allow me to do stuff like that and arrange my schedule for that. But, uh, you know, it's a good change of pace from, you know, the, the corporate life and kind of, uh, agency in particular you're busy and all to do. And, and, uh, it's, it's fulfilling in a lot of ways, but kind of teaching students kind of passing stuff on is it's fulfilling in different ways too. And that was, it was hard, but, uh, yeah, Joe, you're, you're gonna love it once you do it. You'll love it.

Joe: (04:14)
Yeah. I, uh, definitely I go speak quite a bit and mentor a lot of MBAs and other people. Um, so that's, that's, I can only imagine. I think it'll be fun

Luke: (04:24)
Exactly.

Joe: (04:26)
You know, we live in a world full of distractions, you're in agency life, which there's a, you know, Adobe used like hundreds of agencies, maybe even thousands. Um, how have you been able to kind of set yourself apart? How can you stand out with providing a good customer experience and other things that avalanche?

Luke: (04:47)
Yeah. Yeah. So we've, uh, the, the, the best way I'd describe it is we've tried to focus on relationships. Um, I've done that in my own life and personally, and then, uh, it's kind of a philosophy of that avalanche follows too. Um, there's a, there's a book actually that I just read. I have it right here. It's I don't think it's even published. You can't find this on Amazon. It's called brand orbits. Like this I'm not getting paid for this or anything, but, uh, I had mentioned this in the, in the last year and brand orbit stands for, um, relationships or orbit stand for ongoing relationships beyond individual transactions. Okay. Ongoing relationships beyond individual transactions, the idea being, you kind of shift your mentality from, Hey, what's in it for me as a business. Um, how am I making money? Um, what, like, yes, I'll provide you something, but you need to provide me something first. That's kind of the, like, you know, I don't know, typical, I guess, corporate like, um, idea, but there's a lot of brands that are shifting to that, that philosophy of, of you just try to try to create a relationship. Um, and there's, there's a, is there, there's kind of a framework of doing that and, and different principles that, that he talks about, but the main idea is just that relationship and, um, that can show in the type of marketing that you do. It goes from like a push strategy to a pole, right. Rather than try to get out in front of them, which is expensive. Um, you kind of pull them in and people start talking about you, right. Um, you, you, you go from transactions to relationships. Like I talked about, um, you go from creating an audience, which we hear about all the time in marketing to creating more of a community.
Um, and so we try to, we've tried to do that here, here, and my agency, again, like I said, personally, I tried to do that too. We're actually doing an event next week. It's a free event. It's, um, we partner with Google because of our relationship there and we do it twice a year. Um, and we'll go skiing. We take our clients and kind of friends skiing, um, on Thursday. And then on Friday we put on a full blown conference and we've got some fantastic speakers. We've got Adam Durfee from BYU. Um, we have, Oh, shoot. I probably shouldn't have started going down the list.

Joe: (07:06)
No, you're not going to forget your had someone or whatever

Luke: (07:11)
He does a lot of customer experience, uh, um, consulting too. Um, we have the CEO of freshly picked. Um, she just spoke at Silicon Silicon slopes. Um, uh, we have, uh, Adam Reeder who is professor of rock. So anyway, point being, it's a free conference and we invite our clients here, we invite, uh, the community, our friends, um, and it's just something we try to kind of give back. Um, and in the end it benefits avalanche too, because because of that framework that I talked about, the brand orbits. And so we do that in different ways too. We do it internally with our own people, try to build them up, try to, uh, educate. We do a lot of learning opportunities and networking opportunities. Um, we're involved in Utah DMC. Um, our director of, uh, PPC just spoke there. Um, and that's something that, uh, our, our company encourages. It's just like, let's get out. Let's if you want to speak somewhere, like we'll support, you, we'll help pay for it. Um, we'll give you design resources to create a nice slideshow. Um, and so, so yeah, there's a lot of, uh, learning opportunities that we try to do within and without avalanche to just build that relationship.

Joe: (08:22)
That's really cool with, with the kind of building relationships from a, let's say from like acquisition through customers you've had for a decade. What do you feel is kind of the DNA of, of a good customer ?And relationships and kind of building that up, uh, what are kind of like additional things that you try and focus on, um, to make sure that they stay as a customer for a long time?

Luke: (08:50)
Yeah. Yeah. Um, it starts with the people here at, again, going back to the relationships, we try to hire a certain type of person and kind of preach a certain, certain, uh, um, relationship type. Uh, and I would say like the core of that is just caring. Um, it sounds like really funny. Um, it sounds simple, like it's a principle, like there should be something more profound about it, but when you care about the people on the other side, um, it, it really changes the type of work that you do. And it goes from like, okay, I have to check these boxes to, I get to check these boxes. Right. And we still, um, process is a really important part of, uh, of that customer relationship. You have to have that type of framework, but people can sense on the other end, how you're feeling and if you're truly invested in it and if you care, um, and so that, it's like a, it's a soft skill, but it's a, it's an important skill to, to help the team create that relationship, to have that good, a good customer experience. And so, yeah, that's probably, that's probably how I describe it. It's just, uh, it's caring. It's, it's the human side of it. It's, you know, it's more than that. Uh, on the other end, it's not just a business, but it's people, right. And these people have, have jobs they want to do, they have goals, they need to meet, they have stresses, they lose sleep at night. Um, just like we lose sleep at night. And so how do we support them? How do we, how do we kind of see past just the, Hey, this is a, like a paid relationship to no, let's like help each other out. How do we, how do we go above and beyond and so on? Yeah. That's one thing we've done actually is, is rather than call our clients and say, Hey, this is X company, but it's like, no, this is Karen. Um, and, and she is a person and she is, you know, there's more to it than just like a name there of a company and a little thing. It's one of many things that we do, but it kind of helps see past that, Hey, this is just another client that we're working on, but no, it's actually a person on the other end. That's awesome. Yeah. So it's, it's really brought up kind of like a top down, no cultural thing where avalanche is really trying to preach at the top customer experience and that funnels down into the design team and the PPC team, the social team and whoever other resources you're providing to customers.

Joe: (11:09)
Cool. How do you think, you know, we live in a world Of zoom and, uh, social media and, uh, tools like cloud app that can help you? How do those things help enhance the experience of just like a text face interaction?

Luke: (11:20)
Yeah, we use it so much. And I've been thinking about this the last couple of weeks is as we've been prepping the talk and noticing how much we try to go from text, or even just a phone call to something visual I'm. One of, one thing we'll do frequently is actually just do a screen recording of a, of a tool or, um, you know, maybe going through a Google ads account or going through Google analytics or something else, but we just basically walk through and we say, Hey, we need to show what we're talking about and let us walk you through it rather than maybe do a screenshot, which we do screenshots too, but even just a screen recording can take some principle you're talking about. And, um, that can be hard to explain. And maybe you're like doing multiple phone calls and just say, Hey, let us just grab this for you real quick. Um, so we do that very, very frequently. I mentioned screenshots, we're taking screenshots constantly. Um, I had to add another shortcut to my, uh, to my Mac where I, uh, I have, uh, not, not rabid screenshot and save it, but just grab a screenshot so I can paste it because I just do that so much. Um, and so, so yeah, it enhances that because you, you can take paragraphs to try to explain something or jump on multiple phone calls, but if you can just, uh, show them what you're talking about, it, it takes it to another level. Um, another thing that's probably worth mentioning is a video for us is really important. Like we're talking about re like we're talking right now. I can see your face. I can see your, you know, your, your reactions, you're nodding. You're kind of like saying, Hey, yeah, I'm listening to you, right. We, we make a big emphasis to do that with our clients also. Um, and so we use zoom right now, a man. And when we do our record, when we do our calls with them, it's always a zoom recording, and we try to have our camera on as much as possible. It's been a shift actually for the team. I think sometimes you feel a little uncomfortable in front of the screen, but, um, it's very different than a phone call where you can't see their face and you can't kind of see that nonverbal communication. Um, and it's one of those things to help create a relationship that's stronger. Right. It, uh, it just, it's something like, I can see Joe here and like, you know, I see wearing, I see like his hair, like, he's looking good. It's like to like, Hey, I'm trying to present themselves professionally. And so kind of, it goes both ways, but it's a, it seems like a little thing maybe to some people, but the being able to see each other face to face, even when you're not faced, I shouldn't say face to face, see each other, like on a screen when you're not face to face. It really makes a difference in how, how that interaction happens.

Joe: (14:16)
Yeah. There's such a value with, with like the real time, like at Adobe, I was part of, kind of the shift, uh, to, um, those odd audio phone calls where everyone kind of logs in, and it's just on the phone to like the 50 using blue jeans, uh, as kind of like video was the standard. And then, you know, I obviously I loved screen recording so much to connect with like my global distributed team that I was working with a screen recording that cloud app provided that I decided to join the company. Um, so, you know, there's so much value in like the async and synchronous communication and kind of finding ways to combine those two, um,

Luke: (14:59)
Exactly your point. Totally. Yep. Totally agree.

Joe: (15:03)
Um, I kind of want to shift a teeny bit for more personal for you. What is kind of a recent experience you had with a company that It made you more loyal or made you want to communicate something on a podcast about them?

Luke: (15:22)
Yeah. I, I would say this, this company is at the top of a lot of people's customer experience. If you're listening in, they do fast food. Um, and everyone talks about them for the experience that you get there. I shipped Fila, um, and I, I have kids at the beginning. And so the kids love the food there. It's just, it's good food, you know, it's, it's a comfort course. I need to eat a little bit less of it, but yeah, we were there on Saturday. Actually, we went up to the off-road expo up in, uh, in Sandy at the, the, uh, the event center there came back, grabbed some food. I went through the drive there. I was with my family and it was kind of chaos. It's like, who wants what? And like what Apple juice, or do you want chocolate milk? Or, you know, we don't mention the French fries to the kids are like, French fries is an option. Right. You only get brewed. And, um, you know, they have Apple sauce, they have like macaroni, some better sites. Um, and they asked my name at the drive through when they were, can I get a name for the order? I kind of forgot about it. And like the chaos that they'd asked for that, but I pulled up to the, to the window and they said, Hey, Luke, is this your right order? Or like, they kind of confirmed it. And I was like I said, my name, it was a little thing. Um, but it really caught guard probably because I compared it to other experiences at restaurants. And I can't think of any other, even like a fancy sit down restaurant or where I'm paying, like we're paying way more. Um, but especially not like McDonald's or other places, it's just not that experience there. And I was like, wow, like a person cares about me, but I mean, it really, like, it was part of a process. The person that asked I acted in the computer, I'm sure they do it to every person coming down the window, but it really felt different. Um, it felt like they cared. Um, I think back to like one of my first, uh, like business books was a, um, seven habits of highly effective, I think the seven habits, how to think and in it, how maybe it's not that one it's it's by Dale Carnegie, um, or how to win friends and influence people. He talks about everybody's favorite word in the world. Everyone has a favorite world. It's the same favorite word. It's the same thing. And it's our name when someone can say, Hey, Joe, like awesome to see you. Like, thank you for your order, dah, dah, dah. And just hearing your own name. It like kind of gives you a shot of, uh, of endorphins and just makes you feel good. And so, um, yeah, Chick-fil-A is onto something. There is a really small thing, but, but it just, you know, as I was thinking about it, I was like, yeah, that's like, it was, it was small, but it actually made a difference. It stuck out in my mind.

Joe: (18:16)
Yeah. It's kind of like that personalization in a, in the analog world versus digital world that kind of breaks up the noise. Like you said, it's like, you know, I had a chance to stay at some like nice hotels on Adobe's dime a couple of times, um, that I probably wouldn't be able to just on my own. And I remember, I can't remember which one, so I'm not going to call it out, but I, you know, pulled up in my rental car and I had my luggage and they said, you know, checking in what, what's your name? And I gave him my name. And then I walked into the lobby and the person that front desk was, was saying, mr. Martin, like, as I was walking up, you know, so they like did some MacGyver, like CIA move. We're like talking to their microphone, like mr. Martins coming in the lobby right now, You know? So there's like, just that little, little touch was really cool. Cool. And, um, you know, is, is something that you, it doesn't take a lot of effort, but provides a lot of value.

Luke: (19:23)
And that's what I was just going to say. It feels like those things don't require a significant amount of, of work support to happen. Right. We kind of know how they did it, right. You, the person at the front, like Ashley's name and then they radioed in or whatever. But, but it's, it's funny that more companies almost don't take advantage of it because it is it's, it's like the cherry on top, but that cherry on top really, um, it takes it from here to here with, with not a proportionate amount of effort.

Joe: (19:53)
Luke has been a great conversation today. I wanted to ask you one kind of final parting thing, look into your crystal ball at you're in your office there in avalanche. What do you think is the future of experienced business? Where do you think we're kind of moving with customer experience? Uh, you know, what, what is your bold prediction?

Luke: (20:14)
Um, I see there being a lot more, um, maybe software or ways to enable these experiences that we talked about. Right? So hotels, for example, I'll just take that example. I could need more hotels having something like that, right. Where from the beginning you asked your name and there's some sort of way to enable this type of experience that people don't really, I would say the average consumer doesn't know what's going on behind the scenes, but it happens like magic to them. And maybe it's the house cleaners are writing note. That's mr. Martin, thank you for your, your run of the mill type hotels. We'll start doing that. And I could see that going from like the top tier of businesses, starting to trickle down to more and more businesses as it becomes facilitated a more easily through these types of technologies. Um, and, and I just see it starting to permeate business more, uh, just because I think it's a, it's a distinguishing factor. Um, where, where, yeah, more, I think more businesses have to adopt it there. They're going to realize it's not just the product. It's not just what we deliver itself, but it's the experience that goes along with it. I, it seems like there's kind of a trend just going towards it. More people are talking about customer experience and how important that is. And so, you know, those companies that are, that are adapting it sooner will have an advantage. And I think more and more companies will see that is one of those distinguishing factors, ongoing Beyond individual transactions.  Good?

Joe: (21:51)
Thank you, Luke for your thoughts on customer experience, and cool stuff going on over to avalanche. Thanks for your time today.



Luke: (22:02)
And let's do it again . All right. Sounds good. Thank you, Joe.

Joe: (22:09)
Thanks for joining the DNA of an experience podcast. We hope you learned something that will help improve your collaboration and enhance the experience you create for your customer. Join the collaboration 2.0 movement today by getting cloud app, the instant business communication tool use to create instantly shareable videos, screenshots, and GiFs. Perfect for both internal and external communication. Get started for free@wwwdotgetcloudapp.com. Thank you. We look forward to seeing you next time.