Wednesday, September 30, 2009

An Open Letter to the President of Intuit

September 30, 2009

Mr. Brad Smith

President

Intuit

PO Box 28867

Tucson, AZ 85726-8867

Dear Mr. Smith:

As a long-time user of QuickBooks and Quicken, I am writing to express my very real frustration with the off-shoring of QuickBooks technical support. I challenge you, sir, to call your own company’s Payroll Support phone number and try to solve a technical issue using your Philippines-based technical support representatives.

I spoke to one of these representatives today. I found the connection horrible, no doubt because VoIP isn’t immune to distance. I also found the representative’s accent extremely hard to understand. And I found that when I started to describe my problem, the representative was clearly trying to find the right page in her script to come up with a response to my statements. She otherwise appeared unfamiliar with the program.

I write a blog that can be found at www.zackcompany.blogstop.com. Quite a while ago, I wrote one titled “Why QuickBooks 2009 sucks. Let me count the ways....” As of today, I have fifty-nine comments, of which fifty-seven agree strongly with me and go into great detail of the problems others have suffered. Of the other two, one was Greg Wright, Director of Product Management for QuickBooks, and one was not on topic. Thus, other than your own employee, every person reading the blog agrees that the program sucks. More interestingly, since my blog is not about QuickBooks in general, the only way that users are likely to discover this particular entry is by searching on the phrase “QuickBooks sucks.” Sir, your customers are searching the web for this phrase. That should tell you a lot about the levels of customer dissatisfaction out there.

Beyond the basic issues of the program, though, are the headaches and hoops that people have to jump though to get technical support. US customers universally hate dealing with technical support located in other countries. I’m sure you personally hate having an issue with your computer or credit card and ending up on the phone with India or the Philippines. So why do you subject your customers to this hellish experience?

I personally believe that there is a strong issue with one of two things at Intuit, possibly both:

  1. Groupthink: As defined on Wikipedia: “Groupthink is a type of thought exhibited by group members who try to minimize conflict and reach consensus without critically testing, analyzing, and evaluating ideas. Individual creativity, uniqueness, and independent thinking are lost in the pursuit of group cohesiveness, as are the advantages of reasonable balance in choice and thought that might normally be obtained by making decisions as a group. During groupthink, members of the group avoid promoting viewpoints outside the comfort zone of consensus thinking. A variety of motives for this may exist such as a desire to avoid being seen as foolish, or a desire to avoid embarrassing or angering other members of the group. Groupthink may cause groups to make hasty, irrational decisions, where individual doubts are set aside, for fear of upsetting the group’s balance. The term is frequently used pejoratively, with hindsight.” I believe Groupthink is what resulted in the new online banking module that was so bad your company actually went back and reinstalled a means to use the old version. I strongly sense that employees are encouraged not to rock the boat by being a customer advocate, but simply to embrace the Intuit way. What you need is a team of customer advocates whose job it is to constantly question why the engineers are doing things that make the program more complicated for users, rather than less complicated.

  2. Institutionalized arrogance: I have long had the feeling that Intuit is not interested in the way that customers do business or even use the program. The company decides how the program “should” be used and then designs it in that manner, despite that customers may find it counter-productive, counter-intuitive, and annoying. The errors in designing the online banking module are a perfect example.

    Further arrogance can be found in the way that Intuit structures its Payroll Services, making it increasingly difficult and increasingly expensive for users, rather than simpler and less expensive. The pricing of products in the Intuit marketplace, such as checks and deposit slips, is not competitive with companies such as Costco Check Printing. Does Intuit honestly believe that its products are one hundred percent better and thus should be one hundred percent more expensive? I respectfully submit the products are not better and the Payroll Services have not been made easier and more effective, only more expensive. Intuit even had the arrogance to increase the price of Direct Deposit during the worst economy of our lifetimes. Way to support the customer base in a down economy!

I have, over the years, seen some improvements in the program. The ability to file tax forms electronically on both the federal and state levels is one of them. But otherwise, I feel I have seen few improvements. I have asked for years that the Job Description field be made part of the Memorized Transaction list or that the name field for that list be longer, or both. That change has never been made. I have asked for years that calculating items be created, so that you can use percentages of item X for item Y. That has never been added. I have urged QuickBooks to have true synchronization or coordination with Microsoft Outlook and with Stamps.com software (being able to tie Stamps.com shipments to QB customers or Vendors) and that has never happened. QuickBooks has never even been able to differentiate Customers and Vendors with the same name without the user customizing the names! Really, where is the innovation that would inspire customers to stay with and upgrade with QuickBooks? Thank God I’m a PC user. If I were a Mac user, this letter would be five times longer, given that lack of support, improvement, and innovation Intuit has provided the Mac community.

QuickBooks has, in essence, become nothing more than an American automobile model. It changes colors and shapes a little bit now and then. It adds a bell and whistle here and there, but is as likely to remove it in the next version. And like American automobile companies, Intuit will crash and burn if it doesn’t start listening to the customers and giving them what they want: a better program, that makes their lives easier, not harder, less expensive options for add-ons like payroll and supplies, and technical support that is located in the United States.

Thank you for your time in reading this letter. It would be greatly appreciated if I could receive confirmation that this letter was actually given to and read by you and not intercepted by administrative personnel tasked with keeping the “little people”/customers from bothering you.

Sincerely,
Andrew Zack

1 comment:

Laura Williams said...

You might find this interesting: Intuit recently acquired Mint, an excellent personal finance site ( http://blogs.zdnet.com/BTL/?p=24254 ). Hopefully they will take lessons from Mint's model, rather than converting Mint into a replica of their existing product.

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