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Intuit Named to Fast Company’s Top 10 Companies in Design List for 2017
How an Army of Employees and a Man Named Abraham Led to Honor
The road to Intuit’s award for innovative design may have begun on the streets of San Diego.
That’s where an army of TurboTax employees fanned out a little over three years ago to speak first-hand with folks on their turf – practically walking in their shoes to learn more about their lives and gain greater insights into how to make it easier to prepare taxes.
That was just the first step in an ongoing effort to make TurboTax even more user friendly and delightful to use – an effort recognized this week with Intuit being named No. 4 on Fast Company’s list of the Top 10 Most Innovative Companies in Design for 2017. This award represents the focus and commitment Intuit has as a customer-centric, design-driven, technology company, and that the collective efforts of designers and the product management and engineering partners, that make drop dead simple, beautiful products for some 40 million customers.
The Fast Company list is based on reporters’ surveys of thousands of enterprises across the globe to identify the most notable innovations of the year and trace the impact of those initiatives on business, industry, and the larger culture.
“This honor from Fast Company recognizes our years-long efforts to build great design into an already beloved product,” said Kurt Walecki, Intuit’s vice president of design who headed up the program. “Great design and product creation starts with getting to know your customers, up close and personal, on a face-to-face basis. You learn what they love, the problems they have, and gain insights into how Intuit can solve these problems well and help make their lives better.”
Getting to know customers is nothing new for Intuit. Since its founding 34 years ago, the company has conducted “follow me home” visits with thousands of people. Since Intuit’s inception, the company has developed numerous tools and methods to understand people and customers better in all contexts and objectively.
The TurboTax street campaign introduced employees to Abraham, a 26-year-old man working three jobs and trying to save enough money to move out of his parents’ house and get married. Despite living paycheck-to-paycheck, he had no problem spending several hundred dollars a year to have someone prepare his taxes.
“Abraham became our model customer – our True North, if you will,” said Walecki. “He reminded us that life is what’s important – not taxes. So our products should be focused on life events. We’ve always been good about design thinking. This led us to think more about design doing, thinking first about customers and how they think and respond while using our products, rather than the business.”
That brought end-to-end changes in the TurboTax product – everything from the look and feel of the product to the wording and number of questions being asked. The product went from one-size-fits-all to a more personalized approach, eliminating questions that weren’t relevant.
Language itself became friendlier, taking a cue from online games and encouraging taxpayers when they completed a task, with phrases such as “Great job,” or showing empathy when asking for information about the death of a family member.
The efforts have paid off. Over the past two tax seasons, the number of TurboTax Online customers has increased 27 percent, while the product’s share of online tax preparation grew approximately five points to help increase the total TurboTax share of DIY tax prep to 66 percent. The do-it-yourself category is growing by 11 percent, with TurboTax earning high customer satisfaction ratings, as measured by Net Promoter Scores.
“The 'customer-first' approach applies to all Intuit products,” Walecki said. “For TurboTax, it means continuing to seek and listen to the Abrahams of the world and give them a product that meets their unique needs. Our ultimate goal is to have customers use our products and believe that it was designed specifically for them. That’s what innovative design is all about.”
Intuit Inc. creates business and financial management solutions that simplify the business of life for small businesses, consumers and accounting professionals.
Its flagship products and services include QuickBooks® and TurboTax®, which make it easier to manage small businesses and tax preparation and filing. Mint.com provides a fresh, easy and intelligent way for people to manage their money, while Intuit's ProConnect brand portfolio includes ProConnect Tax Online, ProSeries® and Lacerte®, the company's leading tax preparation offerings for professional accountants.
Founded in 1983, Intuit had revenue of $4.7 billion in its fiscal year 2016. The company has approximately 7,900 employees with major offices in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, India and other locations. More information can be found at www.intuit.com.
About Fast Company
Fast Company is the world’s leading progressive business media brand, with a unique editorial focus on innovation in technology, ethical economics, leadership, and design. Headquartered in New York City, Fast Company is published by Mansueto Ventures LLC, one of the U.S.’s leading media companies.