Transforming the customer experience through software, services and insights
Can you tell us about your background? SEAN MCDADE: My background consists of a lot of work in marketing science. I have a Ph.D. in marketing science from Temple. After that, I moved to Gallup and started to manage some higher-profile clients like Microsoft and Sun Microsystems in Southern California. Then, I went back to the East Coast to run a consulting division that the company was forming. I did that for a couple years and got the taste of running my own thing with P&L responsibilities, and accountability and, you know, upsides if we exceeded targets. I got that bug that maybe I can do this on my own, or do something on my own. It was very interesting at Gallup: I was still considered a researcher there, meaning somebody who did research for companies, but I was the only one at the organization that was invited to both the sales and the research meetings. So, I knew there was maybe something different there, that I was invited to the sales meetings. I knew I could sell a little bit, and I figured, “Why not?” I was 31 or 32. I thought it a good idea, and I went for it. The company has a famous “comeback story” that occurred early on. So what happened next? So, the Internet, there was a lot of email and things in the 90s, but at the end of the 90s and into the 2000s, there was a bust, but there was also a lot of opportunity in the Internet space. I saw that in the market in terms of what was going to happen in market research. The opportunity at that point was “How can we help companies answer big questions?” And the question I was trying to help answer was “How do you engage workforces? How do you create a more engaged and productive workforce? How can you do that and get the results back to the customer really, really quickly?” The way it used to happen was it would take weeks to get results back to customers and clients. It would be maybe months. My vision was that we were going to do this and we were going to get the results back to the customer in real time. So, as their employees were filling out these surveys on how engaged they were in the workplace, my client would be able to see what the results were just by logging into our portal—which now they call a SaaS platform, but back then it was just, okay, you would log in and see what your results were. It was a very simple idea. I was going to build on all my expertise in the area that I studied in both graduate school and at Gallup, and got more experienced, and then applied it to more of a digital kind of idea. And what happened was 9/11 happened. All employee engagement work went away, essentially. HR budgets were slashed. And then, of course, the recession kind of was continuing at that point. There was no money in that any more. So, I was sitting in a room, literally at 12th and Callowhill, which is outside of Center City—it’s called the Loft District now, but back then it was just called “out in left field,” like people would say, “You’re actually walking there everyday?” And look at me like I was crazy—but I would go there, and I had a couple of employees by that point, and it was either shut down the business or figure out another angle. I had done a lot of work around customer satisfaction, customer engagement, customer experience, both in graduate school and at Gallup, and I looked at our technology and I said, “You know what? We could apply this to customer satisfaction research, too.” We simply extended our product offering to include both customer and employee work. We were able to get a couple of clients right away and, really, the rest is history. At this point, PeopleMetrics is 100% focused on helping companies improve their customer experience—that’s really what we do. We do some employee work, but it’s not a big part of the business any more. ABOUT OFFIT KURMAN Offit Kurman is one of the fastest-growing, full-service law firms in the Mid-Atlantic region. With 120 attorneys offering a comprehensive range of services in virtually every legal category, the firm is well positioned to meet the needs of dynamic businesses and the people who own and operate them. Our eight offices serve individual and corporate clients in the Maryland, Delaware, New Jersey, and Northern Virginia markets, as well as the Washington DC, Baltimore, Philadelphia, and New York City metropolitan areas. At Offit Kurman, we are our clients’ most trusted legal advisors, professionals who help maximize and protect business value and personal wealth. In every interaction, we consistently maintain our clients’ confidence by remaining focused on furthering their objectives and achieving their goals in an efficient manner. Trust, knowledge, confidence—in a partner, that’s perfect.
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