I had the great opportunity to attend CCH’s User Conference in Orlando, Fla., a few weeks ago as part of their Emerging Leader program. And boy, does CCH know how to put on a conference. Everything – the breakout sessions, the marquee keynotes, the fun evening events and the interactive conference app – was simply outstanding. 

The Emerging Leader program was designed to teach young professionals – those nominated by their firms and chosen by CCH – business strategy and acumen. It was a rare chance for staff, seniors and managers in their firms to receive training in those softer “success skills” that we so desperately need.

The first day we participated in a simulation. In teams of five, we developed and executed a firm strategy for four years. We made decisions about budget, pricing strategy, and service lines, all while trying to maintain employee morale. The simulation provided a fun and competitive way to test different business strategies and practice the decision-making of firm management. I can honestly say one of takeaways was a new appreciation for the work of management. The second day, we are able to choose from a extensive mix of technical and “soft” skill breakout sessions. 

The program, financed completely by CCH, wasn’t only for the benefit of the emerging leaders, though. On the final day, CCH used the opportunity to get the future of the profession’s feedback on CCH products and services and to crowdsource some new, innovative ideas. In this “innovation tournament,” our teams from the first day’s simulation were tasked with analyzing our “pain points” and thinking of new, innovative ways that CCH could help. Our only guidelines: Don’t come up with something CCH already does and don’t ask for teleportation.

Each team picked its top three ideas and presented them to the entire group, which included top CCH executives. We then “dot”-voted on our top three favorites. In the next round, we each had time to expand upon the top three ideas, adding our own insights and ideas. After another vote, we had a winning idea. The amazing part was, our winning new idea, which had seemed like a far-fetched fantasy of most tax preparers, was actually something CCH had recently started working toward! How cool and what an affirmation for CCH staff!

But what impressed me most about the conference, the emerging leader program, and CCH itself wasn’t the technology, although it was impressive. It was the people and the reason behind their products. CCH truly cares for their customers, and each high-tech product really is designed to facilitate “high touch.”

CCH US CEO Teresa Mackintosh said it well at the opening of the conference: “Client service in the future is a matter of combining high-tech and high-touch” – high-touch interaction between CCH and its customers and between its customers and their clients. Products that simplify and automate so that CPAs can spend more time on giving proactive advice. 

What are you doing that you could simplify or automate in order to free up time for value added proactive advice?

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