TurboTax Software Inside Edition

January 21, 2010

TurboTax vice president, Bob Meighan, gave me a few minutes of his time recently to talk about the Turbo Tax product and what goes on behind the scenes to make the tax preparation software as smart as it is.

Bob’s the vice president of consumer advocacy for TurboTax and has worked at Intuit since 1991 so there have been many tax returns prepared and filed by the software during his long tenure there.

I’m afraid I chatted his ear off about the tax software so I’m not going to publish all the questions and answers at once. I’ll roll them out over a few days to keep the topics short and digestable. My first set of questions for Bob had to do with his role in the product and how it impacts people that buy and use Turbo Tax. I’ll be be paraphrasing his answers rather than quoting him verbatim since I was scribbling notes as he answered my questions and didn’t capture it word for word.

1) What does the Vice President for Consumer Advocacy do at TurboTax?

Bob’s major role is keeping in touch with what the customer needs and what questions they have about TurboTax. He spends a lot of his time involved with customer service and handling any customer issues that come up.

Once Bob investigates customer questions or concerns he works with the TurboTax development team to pass along the details of the issue so it can be addressed. As a result of this process Intuit is consistently updating the product throughout tax season based on tax laws and customer feedback.

Bob also helps handle media relations for TurboTax since he has such an extensive knowledge of the product and also has a background as a CPA. It seems Bob is a good fit for this role, he knew the answer to every TurboTax question I asked him, right off the top of his head.

2) What tax questions are TurboTax users struggling with this year?

Bob gets a lot of feedback from the TurboTax Live Community, an online resource center where customers can ask questions, answer other’s questions, and offer product feedback. He really thinks Live Community adds a lot to the value of the software since it lets him and his team capture customer questions and then track additional feedback and the resolution of the inquiries.

One of the most common questions that comes up every year has to do with the ability to claim someone as a dependent. This year the New Homebuyer’s tax credit has been creating a lot of questions and confusion and to some extent the Energy tax credits as well.

Obviously, the benefit to end users is that once the development team updates Turbo Tax to address the questions from Live Community, the rest of the customer base benefits as well. Users like you and I don’t have to understand all the intricacies of the tax credits, the software gathers the information it needs during the interview process and determines the tax credit eligibility for you.

3) Can customers interact with TurboTax using Twitter?

Although Bob just created a Twitter account at the end of last year Ashley Kirkendall and Chelsea Marti have been active on the site, representing TurboTax, for a while.

Bob’s seen Twitter be a good early indicator of problems and questions from customers. It also gives people a chance to talk with someone if they feel like they want more personal attention with a question.

After talking with Bob I made a list of the various people from Intuit that work on the TurboTax product:

For the next segment of the interview I’ll cover some more of the things we talked about, such as:

  • Benefits of tax prep software over manually preparing your taxes
  • People’s first experience using TurboTax
  • How people like to get their tax refunds
  • When other people get around to filing their taxes

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Ben Edwards, the founder of Money Smart Life, saved up enough to buy a Nintendo back when he was 12 years old. When he used the money to buy shares of Wal-Mart stock instead, he knew he wasn't like the other kids... His addiction to personal finance has paid off for his family and now he's helping you to afford the life that you want. Check him out on the web at Google Plus, Twitter and Facebook.

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