BLOG: A delightful customer support experience in Turbotax

As a service designer, my heart always flutters a bit when I am confronted with great examples of service design. This happened unexpectedly this tax season when I ran into a snag around a deduction I thought I could claim in Turbotax.

Contacting customer support

The whole process of reaching out to Intuit happened smoothly. I could request a call back from within the browser. I had high expectations, though this was my first year using Turbotax; friends kept telling me how easy and affordable it was, and I’d had a positive experience using QuickBooks Online as a small business owner in 2015 (*Note, I had been living abroad from 2006–2015, and was approaching tax day like a newly minted college graduate).

The expert gave me a call, and I explained my issue. She asked me if I would like to be walked through the process on screen. “Sure,” I replied, not at all sure what she meant. She asked me to log into Turbotax, to press a hotkey combo, and to read the generated code aloud to her via the telephone. I repeated the code aloud, and lo and behold…a video feed of my agent popped up on screen. I was flabbergasted. This was something similar to Kindle’s Mayday tool, but I had no idea it existed as a support feature in Turbotax. She then proceeded to lead me through my issue by pointing to where I should click on the screen and through explaining how to resolve the issue.

Shift+ENTER toggles a pop up in the web browser
After confirming my code with the expert, a video feed of her pops up on my screen. She can point to areas on my screen so I know where to click.

Somehow Intuit turned a moment of pain remediation into a moment of delight. The interaction caught me off guard and snapped me out of a frustrated state.

Why was this experience so delightful?

When talking about services, it’s not one gimmicky moment that creates enduring loyalty. It’s the accumulation of all interactions with that particular service. This moment was woven into a well designed experience from start to finish. It was the cherry on top:

  • A solid product offering — I already felt good using Turbotax. The step by step process made the tax filing process feel comprehensive, educational, and safe.
  • An easy and clear way to contact support — I could contact support directly from within the browser page, and I understood how long it would take to get a call back.
  • On the phone: “I’m talking to the right person” — I had the feeling that I was talking to someone who understood and could solve my problem right off the bat.
  • Troubleshooting together in the browser — the surprise of futuristic interactions, today — (see my related post on Eatsa, a futuristic fast food service available in a few US cities).
  • Resolution — ok, I couldn’t get that deduction in the end, but I feel educated for next year!

Ruminations on best practices

Speaking of best practices, why doesn’t the IRS copy the Dutch government and put Turbotax out of business? My experience with Dutch taxes has been as follows…I log into the website, download a tax preparation file, and double check/modify the auto populated entries. Voila, even easier!

This piece was originally published on Medium and on the blog of Sutherland Labs.

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