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Cody: Welcome to the Ashore podcast! This week, Ashore’s customer success manager, Kaylie Meek, joins Abby Nash to discuss the challenges that creatives face with approvers. And you might be surprised, and probably even relieved, to discover that we all generally struggle with the same issues. No matter what kind of creative you are, there’s a good chance you struggle to get high-quality feedback or/and that you struggle to get any kind of feedback at all.
If you have ever created an account on Ashore, there’s a good chance that you’ve spoken with Kaylie at least once. She’s an inspiring person to me who thinks deeply about virtually everything she’s paying attention to and, in her role, she understands the creative mind better than anyone I know.
You’re really gonna enjoy this podcast, I can’t say it enough. I’m out this week, but this was a very insightful discussion, and I know you’ll benefit from these two brilliant thinkers. If you have any questions or would like to learn more about Ashore, reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Enjoy the show! Talk soon.
Kaylie: We are live. I don’t know how much clearer I can get than a thumbs up. We are live.
Abby: Yeah, but this isn’t like a radio show – you just say it!
Have you ever had a startup idea?
Kaylie: Hmm…Startup idea?
Abby: This is Cody’s favorite part, so we have to honor it.
Kaylie: I don’t know, I’m not that business-minded. I always wanted to open, like, a midnight art store. ‘Cause art supplies are one of those things you run out of 12 o’clock at night and no one’s open.
Abby: Yeah! So I have a startup idea, and I never do, so I wanted to share it. Okay, so this is because we have to move houses and stuff. I don’t drive, so I walk to work. And we have to move out of this neighborhood this summer into a different neighborhood somewhere in the city. I’m going to have to get a ride to work, every day. It’s gonna suck – mostly for the people giving me a ride, honestly, I’ll be fine. I just sit in a car.
But there are people like me in the world who don’t drive and it’s hard for them to get to work and they don’t live in a city where transportation is easy to get. So what I’m thinking for my startup idea is some sort of company that links people who need remote work, like customer service or support, things like that, sales, marketing, content-writing and then people with disabilities. It’s a great marriage of these two people. You know, people who have a hard time leaving the house and people who need employees who can work remotely. Or you know, from anywhere.
Kaylie: Yeah, I think that’s a solid idea. Especially because, you know, there’s a lot of services for at-home work, and you can find it, but if you had an app you could kind of consolidate it into one area. Because, to my knowledge (and I have looked at that sort of stuff before), there’s not really the “one ring to rule them all” – the one website that’s gonna be the definitive end-all-be-all like Google is the end-all-be-all for search engines. Sorry Bing users.
Abby: It’s like the way everybody goes on Indeed to find work now, like, an app that is specifically for posting jobs that can be worked remotely. I don’t know, it could be contract work or you want a more permanent position filled. That’s my startup idea and I’m really excited about it. Now I’m not gonna have one for another six months, but, you know.
I guess we should get to the point of why I’m talking to you anyways!
So you, for Ashore, are the customer success manager, right?
Kaylie: Yes, it is customer success. So what I do is like sales, but sales itself is a lot of different things, because I’m the first point of contact for a lot of our customers. And sales involves a little bit of marketing in that sort of way. These people are already interested but a lot of them haven’t made that final decision. So you’re still doing that sort of coaxing, “here’s what we have to offer, here’s why you should pick us over anyone else you’re looking at”. And a lot of that is that relationship building. And then I’m also just basic customer service, I’m here to answer your questions, because, you know, I’m building that relationship.
Abby: So everybody that becomes a user on Ashore hears from Kaylie, the customer success manager.
Kaylie: Ideally, at some point, yeah. I mean, if I’ve missed you, please let me know!
So mostly what I do in sales is I take that marketing stuff and then I just rephrase it in a conversation with someone. You and I both work together to develop like, what questions I keep gettings asked, what features should we highlight, and all of those come from me talking to people and having their questions and hearing what they like most of all. So it’s that sort of constant communication between me speaking with customers and you trying to find new customers.
Abby: That’s true. I definitely ask you a lot of questions whenever I’m preparing my marketing material because you’re on the front lines, you talk to people. So I can assume that someone is really interested in this feature or that somebody.. You know, we have a lot of compan-er, we have a lot of customers who are printers but…
Kaylie: You would think we have a lot of print company customers – and we do! We really do. But we also have a lot of people who do apparel design, and newsletters, and like, pretty much every company that exists has some sort of marketing company they have to create. Marketing materials, fliers, etc. So they have a proofing process. I’m assuming, you know, that Google doesn’t just have a marketing department and they just make stuff and put it out there without any sort of checks from anyone.
Abby: No that’s true! Sales and marketing have to speak to each other; if they don’t then… I mean, I’m sure there’s examples that I cannot think of where the marketing has not matched up with the demand, like, the user demand and it’s like, famously awful.
Kaylie: Febreeze, they did a lot of research into how to make Febreeze a thing. Like, a lot. Because, I mean, what does Febreeze do? It makes a room smell nice. And no one…When they first invented Febreeze they could not figure out how to make anyone buy it and Febreeze almost tanked. And what they had to do was they talked to a lot of different people to try and figure out how they used Febreeze. At the beginning, marketing was like “oh yeah, spray Febreeze and then clean the room!” or whatever. And in the end they settled on the idea that people would buy Febreeze if Febreeze itself was the reward after you cleaned. So they came up with the marketing that rather than it be like, one of the first things that you do.
Abby: It should be the last thing.
Kaylie: Yeah, you would clean the house and then you would have Febreeze. But they had to do a lot of different research because their initial marketing idea was not working and they were not selling anything.
Abby: It’s like how Listerine, whenever it first when on the market, it was there to treat bad breath. Everyone was like, “I don’t have bad breath!” Like they didn’t think it was a problem! And so Listerine invented the word “halimatosis” to like, to describe having chronic bad breath, to freak everyone out.
So that’s not, that’s not what we’re doing here. We’re not like…
Kaylie: To be frank, the problem, your proofing process, came first. And we are here to answer that. We are not actually…I’m going to be clear, you had a problem and we are trying to fix that.
Abby: We did not invent a problem and then convince you that you had it. There’s no brainwashing happening here.
Kaylie: And also, you know, Ashore was started by people who were going through that process themselves, of having to send out those proofs and then follow up and follow up and follow up. Or try and find that one email where Ted said that he did not like the blue on this flier, but what color did he like?
Ashore is supposed to be the answer to those things – Ashore was created by the people who were experiencing those issues. Little bit different than Febreeze.
Abby: And “halimatosis”.
Abby: Halitosis? Have I been saying it wrong?
Kaylie: There’s no ‘m’ in halitosis.
Abby: Halitosis? Okay, if you hadn’t corrected me, would anybody have known? Probably, actually.
Maybe Cody will edit it out. He probably won’t but, you know. Can we just edit all of that out? Edit it out!
You’ve never really offered solutions like at Ashore, but when you were working for the Beto campaign, like, when you’re helping a politician, you know, trying to sell a politician, he’s like a solution to problems is he not?
Kaylie: I mean, yeah, that’s what a politician is. But, in general, my work at the Beto campaign was, I mean, it was at the beginning talking to voters. But, there’s the difference there of, if you don’t want to work with us, we’re done with the conversation.
Abby: Oh that’s true.
Kaylie: The goal during that campaign was not to convince people. It was to find people who were on the fence or already leaning that way. The goal wasn’t to find the most hardcore opponent and then try and convince them to vote for Beto.
Abby: So it was more inbound sales than outbound sales is what you’re saying. You’re not trying to turn Republicans into Democrats, you were trying to find Democrats who hadn’t voted in a couple of years.
Kaylie: Yeah, and also, I mean, the campaign philosophy in that way was that we weren’t even trying to find Republicans versus Democrats. ‘Cause we actually had access – I mean, if this is news to you, whether or not you voted? That’s public record. And you can actually find the voting records. And what we did, the campaign as a whole had all of the voting records of Texas and we were calling everyone.
Abby: So anybody who had ever voted in the state of Texas got a phone call.
Kaylie: I think within the last five years. People who had voted in the last five years. We weren’t calling people from 20 years ago.
Abby: That’s good, they could be dead, you know. And that’s a whole other conversation about voter fraud.
So you know like, trying to sell to voters is not maybe as similar as trying to sell to a business.
Kaylie: Yeah, and especially, like, a lot of the contact that I did was trying to convince people to donate their time. And you have a different philosophy, which is, “everyone wants to help and you’re just giving them the opportunity”. And at Ashore it’s “okay, we can make your process better”. Maybe you don’t have a problem, maybe you do. Maybe you just don’t realize you have a problem. But we can make what you’re already doing better.
Abby: I kinda wanted to end the podcast on giving you, like, an open FAQ chance. Like, what…Ashore needs an FAQ.
Kaylie: Yes, that is something we are going to be putting out in the future, is that FAQ.
Abby: So I wanted to just give you the chance to like, answer the most-asked questions about Ashore, as the person who gets asked all of the questions about Ashore.
Kaylie: Yeah, and that’s one of those things – it’s a new question each time the user asks it.
Workflows – the default option on a workflow is that the proof is gonna go out in workflow order. This means that when you input all of your approvers, they’re going to be put into a lineup. Person 1, Person 2, Person 3. So our default option is “Send in Workflow Order”, it’s gonna go to Person 1, if they approve it’s gonna go to Person 2.
However, we also have an option in the upper left corner to send proofs to everyone at once. So that means Persons 1-10, or however many people you have in your workflow, they’re all going to receive the proof at once. And a lot of people are busily making their workflow so they don’t notice the options at the top and they forget to toggle and then they’re like “Person 1’s the only one who got the proof!” Because the workflow was in workflow order.
Abby: So they’re like “only one person got my proof and I sent it to so many people!” Yeah, that’s true.
So the “Not Approved with Changes”, that’s the thing that I struggle to explain when I have to explain it.
Kaylie: Well, one, it’s “Approved with Changes”. So, our default is it’s either approved or it’s not approved, and we do have the option when sending the proof to toggle “Approved with Changes”. And that’s mostly just how your business works. A lot of customers sometimes feel like, “oh it’s just this one tiny change”. It’s mostly, “I love it, but I just need this date to be different.” So in that case they could use “Approved with Changes” as “I really like this, overall, but there’s a couple little ones.” They don’t want to make that negative choice of “Not Approved”, because they like it mostly. But again, a lot of that is just based on what the workflow at whoever’s company is. To be fair, not everyone wants that. Some people want that steady decision of “okay, we do have fixes to make, it’s not approved”.
Abby: So now I know what that means. Any other questions, now that your memory’s been jogged?
Kaylie: Oh, email verification. You have to completely verify your email – on the Profile page, we have a little button that says “Verify your email”. You have to click the button and then you have to respond to the email that Postmark sends you. Because if you don’t do that you’re leaving the process in limbo, and at that point, you can’t send any emails.
Abby: Oh. I feel like I’ve heard you say something about Postmark before, like, if you’re having an issue, it’s like, they need to verify their email.
Kaylie: Yeah, sometimes one of our issues with our email servers are that some companies have – and I’m not a technological person, so forgive me this one – from my understanding, as explained by our tech experts at Ashore, some peoples’ email servers at certain companies, they filter out or they don’t accept certain emails. So we have often have to go into our email servers and grab some sort of text, it’s like a DNS thing, and then we provide it to whatever client is having this issue and then they input it into their email server. And it’s like opening a door and they get emails now.
It’s a key to the door!
Abby: This is like me trying to explain to my grandmother how to text. And like, you just do it. You don’t think about the technical aspects of it. You just touch the little message app and then you start typing. And she’s like “what?”.
Kaylie: No, I understand, I know that feel too. It’s one of those things like, we’re growing up with a lot of technology and we’re learning a lot of technology and certain people – older people, my apologies – did not have that…their brain didn’t have to acclimate to that stuff. So things that we take for granted.
Abby: I mean, I think it’s fascinating that we are the…our generation, you know, 20s to like 40 or whatever, didn’t have technology and then we saw it evolve in front of our eyes. Like, whenever you were like four you didn’t have a computer in the house, but by the time you were ten everyone had a computer in the house.
Kaylie: I definitely had a computer in the house at four.
Abby: Well I guess I did, too, but it….
Kaylie: We definitely had computers, they just made god-awful dial-up noises.
Abby: I don’t think we had the internet on our computer but we would run those…
Kaylie: I played video games on the computer at four.
Abby: We had those little CD ROMs and you could put them in and run a program. You remember floppy disks? Wow. Way to make myself look old. Remember VCRs? Remember how you had to rewind the tape before you sent it back to the tape store?
Kaylie: You mean Blockbuster?
Abby: That’s what it’s called! The “tape store”…
Kaylie: The tape store. VHS, Abby.
Abby: Whatever, you know what I’m talking about. The olden days, whenever you had to carve into a rock the movie you wanted to see and then throw it at a caveman. And then that caveman, after he woke up from being knocked out, he would pick up the rock and be like, “nope, that tape’s still checked out” and then you had to go back home to your hut.
Kaylie: I don’t know why that makes me think of, is it ancient Sumer where they have all those tablets complaining about that one dude, that one grain merchant, that one grain merchant and they didn’t like his prices and there are so many, so many complaints. They’re written in stone.
Abby: Imagine being dedicated enough to you complaints that you write them in stone. It’s like Capterra, but in a cave. Caveterra!
Kaylie: That’s a good startup idea. My complaints certainly won’t survive the apocalypse, because they’re stored in a computer, let’s make sure they do – Caveterra.
Abby: Okay I think we should end, right?
Kaylie: I believe we should end.
Abby: So Kaylie, before we go, as the customer success manager, Ashore users, or future users, or like, literally anybody who wants to talk to you, how do they talk to you?
Abby: No, I mean….
Kaylie: The manner in which I prefer to be spoken to is with politeness. However, if you’re on the Ashore page, on the Ashore website, you can always hit in the bottom right corner we have a little message box, so you can always chat me there – or Cody, usually me. You can also shoot me an email at email@example.com.
Abby: And you’ll answer promptly and politely.
Kaylie: As long as you were prompt and polite in sending it!
Abby: Otherwise you’re going to be “respectfully”.
Kaylie: I will be very “respectfully”.
Abby: I love whenever people end their emails like that. So I guess, respectfully, we’re done.
Kaylie: Respectfully, I guess we are.