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Software Helps TurboTax Address Tax Filers' Complaints

At online tax filing site TurboTax, new content management software is in place that's designed to prioritize customer problems and get them resolved faster.
Those brave souls who do their own taxes try to avoid any snags that make them wish they'd called an accountant instead. At online tax filing site TurboTax, new content management software is in place that's designed to prioritize customer problems and get them resolved faster.

Intuit gets some 10 million users of TurboTax during tax season. In November the company installed Clarabridge's Content Mining Platform, software that's letting it analyze and act on all customer feedback to TurboTax, rather than just the 1% sample it used in previous years.

Customers with questions, problems, and complaints can communicate with TurboTax customer service reps in one of three ways -- e-mail, online chat, and telephone -- and some of the content of these communications are passed on to Intuit product managers and software engineers so they can prioritize and fix problems. Up until this year, questions and complaints were categorized into 8,000 separate "buckets," or categories, and a small group of employees drew a 1% sample from those buckets. It was impossible to know where the biggest problems were: did 50 people have problems with a particular state tax code, or was it 10,000 people? When it came to setting priorities on what needed to be fixed first, employees had to rely on hunches, says TurboTax analytics manager Chris Jones.

This tax season, Clarabridge software is combing the various data sources containing customer communications content and determining which bucket to put content in based on words and phrases. The number of buckets, in the meantime, has been whittled down to about 400. As the Clarabridge software starts to fill in these buckets, it gets smarter about where content should go based on where it put previous content, Jones explains.

Once customer responses are appropriately categorized, business analysts use MicroStrategy's business intelligence software to draw conclusions: Is there a specific problem that arises more frequently with its Canadian call centers than its Indian call centers, for example?

It's not a full rollout: Intuit is still trying to figure out the best way to use the Clarabridge and MicroStrategy combo, and has limited it to some specific business cases this year. But optimism is high, Jones adds. "People are falling over in their chairs, saying, 'We've never gotten access to this data before. This is incredible; it's awesome.' "

The knowledge TurboTax is gaining from its customers may not take the pain out of tax time. But, ultimately, it should improve the experiences of those using TurboTax to file.

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