With special CEO funding, I was invited to join and lead the design of Intuit's innovative Live Community program. This custom Social Q&A Platform included high-traffic portals and in-product widgets.
Our program was so effective that in 2016, Intuit made us the official Self Help & Search Platform, powering TurboTax, QuickBooks and more.
Intuit's self-help portals are accessed by over 150 million people. Google a tax question, and this site often delivers the top result. But this doesn't mean you got the answer you needed.
Work on this problem led to the development of features including widgets, topics, region-selection, agent-tools, enhancements of contributor-experiences, personalization, search, answer pages, question-posting, and contact-us.
In Agile/Scrum it can be difficult to see how iterative changes affect the end-to-end experience. So I began by implementing an annual E2E Intercept Study to identify and measure changes to the system, and to learn about how our customers sought answers to their questions.
Early on we observed a say-do gap in our studies. Customers would say they wouldn't trust community answers, but we observed them happily using them when they were found. We also recognized that testing users with simulated questions didn't accurately depict what they would do when stakes were high. This told us that reflective or opinion-based research wasn't reliable. So for realism, we switched to using a new virtual-intercept tool called Ethnio. This let us pop screeners and intercept users while they were in the process of seeking an answer to a real question. We regularly brought our development team and partners into our usability labs to observe.
The findings from these studies were captured and reported, but also tracked in a UX Backlog that we used to help prioritize work. I brought the designers of our consuming products (TurboTax and QuickBooks) together on a quarterly basis to review and prioritize our backlog.
I became a certified Intuit Innovation Catalyst, and applied our proprietary Design Thinking methods to solve problems in a customer-backed way. The methods were heavily inspired by LEAN Startup, and involved Rapid Experimentation of Behavior-Change Hypothesis. I enjoyed using these methods to validate concepts even before the design phase.
Cross-functional workshops and the use of customer-driven frameworks and experiments were part of our regular process and helped us redefine our Contact-Us experience, and even inspired us to replatform with new technology.
I later formed a "Customer Success Design Team" that brought numerous disciplines together including content design and support. This mission team was able to cross-share and mobilize to tackle shared problems.
In my early years on the program, I struggled with how to best frame our Personas' journey through our system. I knew that a typical Service Blueprint wasn't ideal because they rely on a "golden path." This is typical for linear systems like onboarding or checkout, but not with nonlinear systems like self-help, where there are many problems, paths, user-types, and support-tools available.
A breakthrough came when I started observing common patterns during our user intercept studies. I was surprised to see how many people would fail to find an answer, and simply give up rather than escalate to an agent. This "not worth it" experience was a wakeup call and helped me recognize in time that there were six common outcomes, with well-worn paths: Nailed-it, Supported, Heroic-Intervention, Not-worth-it, Tried-and-failed, and Unsupported.
The next problem was how to connect these common E2E patterns with our existing Personas. The answer was in applying the Personas as swim lanes and articulating their mindset and tools that they would leverage at each step in the journey.
Success Paths shed visibility on previously undiscovered opportunity areas, such as how to help customers actually apply the answers to their problems, including linking them directly to the relevant part of the product, walking-them through a solution, or watching a video tutorial.
They also helped us think about how to deliver good outcomes no matter where the user's at in their journey.
Research insights inspired us to develop innovative Personalized self-help solutions that blur the lines between self-help and product use.
Rapid experiments and mid-fi prototypes helped express concepts like a first-time-use for novice contributors, that smartly matches demand with supply. In 2016 we achieved significant contributor growth by implementing a get an answer, give an answer call to action within TurboTax.
Our microservices and embedded widgets power the in-product help experiences of products like TurboTax and QuickBooks. And enable innovation in areas like Chatbots. Design provocations helped us have conversations with our business partners about opportunities like social-innovation and federated search.
During my tenure the program posted strong year-over-year metrics in answer-rate, helpfulness-rate, and growth. Most importantly, Intuit made us the official platform to power self-help for all of its brands.
Intuit continues to accelerate growth in the platform. Customer Success is a key differentiator for Intuit, and the Self Help and Search Platform plays a strategic role.
The future will see further consolidation and standardization of these tools, plus growth in community integration, as well as a more seamless experience between product-usage, and product-support.