LMA Southwest chats with 2019 LMA Southwest Region Conference presenter Society 54, LLC Co-Founder Heather McCullough to discuss her presentation, "Delight or Simply Satisfy: Crafting an Extraordinary Client Experience"
What inspired you to speak on this topic?
Clients are at the center of all that we do and often we forget to include their voices, their perspectives, and their ideas into our day-to-day operations. According to Gartner, "[client] experience is the next battlefield" and it is an area where we can differentiate our firms from the competition. I am inspired by companies that know how to delight their customers and feel that professional services organizations are finally ready to embrace the full meaning of CX.
What are the top three things you hope the attendees took from your presentation?
I hope participants can remember that it’s important to start small with a group of willing participants. That it is crucial to know where you are starting from and gather any metrics that you can. Then measure it again in 6 months. 1 year. etc. I also want everyone to walk away remembering that mistakes will happen and services failures are inevitable – but it's the recovery that matters.
You started your presentation asking the room what are some of their best or worst client or customer experiences. What's yours and why?
As a customer of my regional cable company for almost two decades, I have never - and likely will never - sing their praises. The company continually advertises discounted rates, bundled packages, a plethora of upgrades and other enticing offerings that are only available to new subscribers. Instead, as a long-time customer, the only “gifts” I receive are the yearly increases to my bill. One year, my family wanted to add a particular channel to our package and called to make it happen. When speaking with the agent, she relayed to us that we weren't getting the very best rate for all of the services that we were using and offered to move us to a new and improved bundled package. Not only would this add the channel that we wanted, but it also provided us with significant monthly savings. We eagerly agreed to the new terms and set up a time for the technician to come to our house. On the day that the technician was to arrive, we waited. And waited. And waited some more. When we called the cable company to find out when this person would arrive, we were told that this new service had been cancelled because we were existing customers and thus not eligible. Wait, what?! Not only had we not received a notice that we were waiting around for nothing and that our ever-increasing bill would continue to increase, but also that the reason for the cancellation was because we were long-standing, loyal customers of the company. I have for years used this story as an example of what attorneys should NOT do with their long-standing, loyal clients. I call it “The Time Warner Cable Treatment."
As marketers, our clients are our attorneys. Providing great service and an experience starts with us. How did you learn how to provide extraordinary client experience? Is there a company out there we should be watching that's doing it right?
I think that watching those on the receiving end of extraordinary experience has made me incredibly curious about this topic and how to apply it to everything that I do - and in turn, to help my clients discover how to apply it in their firms. There are so many great stories out there about companies that have gone to great lengths to make the customer experience stand out and at the heart of each is that the organizations empowered their employees to take action, and then they listened. These companies take great pride in hearing what their customers are saying - their struggles and their delights - and then acting on that information. Some great examples that will just make you feel good can be found here - https://www.helpscout.com/10-customer-service-stories/
What is one thing you didn't share during your presentation that everyone should know about this topic?
I shared this during my presentation but feel that it should be repeated again and again - Client Experience and Client Service are NOT the same. Client service is providing the client exactly what they ask for, while the client experience is how our clients feel about working and interacting with us at each and every touch point along their journey with our firm.
Finally, what's next for you?
Well, at Society 54, we are building a team of individuals who work to put our clients' needs first. A team who knows that no two people and no two firms are alike and who want our clients’ most unique and remarkable skills to be cultivated and displayed. I am thrilled to be a part of this dynamic and engaging company and look forward to seeing how we can continue the CX conversation.
Society 54 Co-Founder Heather McCullough is two parts wit and one part tenacity, with heaping doses of creativity and intellect on the side. For more than 15 years, she has brought game-changing results to professional services firms across the Southeast. As the director of business and practice development at one of the most well-respected law firms in the Carolinas, Heather oversaw all aspects of firm branding and business development, including communications, client relations, events and business development – – all while keeping a keen eye on budgets and ROI. In the consulting realm, Heather never says no to a challenge. She knows that hollow rebranding and marketing can fall flat, and operates as a tireless advocate for her clients to ensure that efforts are anything but hollow. She is well known in the legal marketing industry and her wheels never stop turning when it comes to generating profit, rapport and direction for her clients.