Intuit’s Brad Smith Shares Customer Experience Insights

I’m speaking tomorrow at the Net Promoter Conference in San Francisco. After my flight today, I was able to catch a couple of sessions. One of those was a speech by Brad Smith, Intuit’s CEO.

(For some more background, read my post: Net Promoter And Satisfaction Battle For King Of The Ring).

Intuit has been one of the most active users of the Net Promoter methodology (focusing on customers’ answer to a single question: Would you recommend Intuit to a friend?). It started when Intuit’s founder Scott Cook championed the deployment of the Net Promoter Score (NPS) across Intuit in 2003. I’ve had several meeting with Cook since then and can attest to his strong commitment to NPS. One of Smith’s initial statements was very telling:

Net Promoter is core to the company… it’s part of who I am as a leader.

Smith also said that 81% of sales are directly attributable to word of mouth. He then went through three lessons that Intuit has learned on it’s Net Promoter journey. Here are a few of his interesting comments on those lessons:

1) Leaders Must Chart The Course

  • He discussed “True North” as the direction towards customer experience that everyone in the company shares
  • One of the firm’s goals is to have an NPS at least 10 points more than the nearest alternative
  • They use customer feedback to rapidly change the Turbo Tax product; they changed more than 90% of the code during the tax season.

2) Delighting Customers Makes Employees Hearts Beat Faster

  • He said that employees need hear customer feedback; whether they’re complaints or applause. Without it, he said, was like giving a show day after day in an empty theater.
  • To empower employees to unleash ideas, 10% of employees time is “unstructured” and meant for finding ways to improve customer experience. They’ve created an online “Brainstorm” tool to facilitate idea sharing across the company. 

3) Innovation Fuels Customer Delight

  • He suggests that you need to question long-held beliefs; and gave several examples of ideas from Gen Y employees. One of those ideas was to put the live support community inside of Turbo Tax. It turns out that 40% of the questions customers had were being answered by other customers.
  • The company created Intuit Labs to facilitate innovation.
  • One great example was a problem with Intuit’s IVR (the menu of options customers hear when they call). Customers were getting incorrectly routed 40% of the time. Since it took 10 days to reprogram the IVR, they couldn’t try a lot of things in the normal way. So one engineer said let’s do this the old fashioned way; and they did. People answered the phone and spoke the menus. By trial and error, they found a menu structure that worked before reprograming the IVR.

The bottom line: Would you recommend this blog to your friends and colleagues? 🙂

Written by 

I am an experience management transformist, helping organizations improve business results by engaging the hearts and minds of their customers, employees, and partners. My "job" is Head of the Qualtrics XM Institute. The Institute is still being established, but our goal is to help organizations around the world thrive by mastering Experience Management (XM). As part of this focus, I examine strategy, culture, interaction design, customer service, branding and leadership practices. And, as many people know, I love to speak about these topics in almost any forum. Prior to joining Qualtrics, I was managing partner of Temkin Group (leading CX research, advisory, and training firm), co-founder and chair of the Customer Experience Professionals Association (, and a VP at Forrester Research. I'm a fanatical student of business, so this blog provides an outlet for sharing insights from my ongoing educational journey. Check out my LinkedIn profile:

4 thoughts on “Intuit’s Brad Smith Shares Customer Experience Insights”

  1. I work in the Innovation Lab (iLab) at Intuit. We built Intuit Labs so users would have a way to check out the cool stuff teams at Intuit are working on and share their feedback and ideas directly with the developers. We really want to know what you think!

  2. The apps on Intuit Labs come from teams across the company, not just the iLab, although we have some of our own work on the site as well. My current favorites are Expense Control and Cash Register Plus.

    Expense Control was built by one engineer using his unstructured time to develop a windows mobile app to help consumers and small businesses track their expenses. We’re getting great engagement and feedback from users which is the whole point of Intuit Labs

    Cash Register Plus is cool because it turns a regular PC into a cash register with extra functionality you’d find on more expensive POS systems with no additional hardware and it’s FREE software.

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