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TurboTax Free Efile tackles Twitter, becoming a service all-star

5 min read

Brands & Campaigns

This Q-and-A is with Chelsea Marti, the PR & Social Media Manager for TurboTax Free Efile. Marti is focused on building engaging and informative product blogs by executing social content strategies that drive SEO and PR results, and continually leverages social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter to help acquire and engage customers.

How did your team make the case to corporate leadership for using these social-media vehicles? Why do you think you were able to get so much support?

Close customer communication has been part of Intuit‘s DNA since it was founded.  Our founder, Scott Cook, started the company by asking customers for permission to conduct a “follow me home” — that is, to watch them actually use our products in their own environments to learn directly from them on how we could improve. The very idea of using social media to get close to customers is already ingrained across our leadership. Over the past couple of years, the TurboTax social team has really been diving in to social media in a variety of ways: to get product recommendations and feedback, to engage with our customers where they already are, and to provide customers with valuable information that will help them along their tax-filing journey.

Our founder’s mantra of staying close to the customer, combined with small social-media successes along the way, really set the stage for a cross-functional adoption of @TeamTurboTax at the leadership level. Couple this with the fact that leaders in our support organization have been keeping close tabs on the new ways to use social-media channels to help customers, and we were actually really lucky to propose an idea like @TeamTurboTax this year. Buy-in was not difficult because our leadership has been aware of the quickly evolving social landscape for a few years now.

What data did you use to develop TurboTax’s social-media strategy? Why did Twitter become such a focus?

For the past couple of years, the TurboTax social team has been on Twitter, addressing customer needs and suggestions between the corporate communications and marketing teams. Additionally, we conduct surveys at TurboTax to better understand what social channels our customers are active on. As an example, we know that about 50% of TurboTax customers are on Facebook. This year, we found that 7% of our roughly 20 million customers are on Twitter, as well.

The team behind our original Twitter presence noticed an influx in incoming customer queries year over year, and — between the growth of Twitter and this increase in customer conversation about our brand — recognized an opportunity to help customers on a larger scale. Our customers use Twitter to express dissatisfaction, celebration or simply talk about how they need help. We’re committed to talking to our customers where they’re comfortable doing so, and we had a hunch that they’d like to talk to us on Twitter about taxes.

@TeamTurboTax was a big production with a lot of moving parts; could you explain a bit more about how it worked and why it was successful?

With @TeamTurboTax, it was essential to partner closely with leaders across TurboTax from the very beginning. @TeamTurboTax would not succeed unless everyone was on board and excited to do their part. Luckily for us, we’ve already had some teams at TurboTax pull off large-scale user-driven social projects before, such as our Live Community, which is centered around pulling together the combined knowledge of tax experts and consumers seeking and contributing to tax questions and answers.

From the get-go, we brought those teams together and took plenty of time to understand what worked and what did not, and what might be applicable to the @TeamTurboTax project. We worked on strategy first and foremost, and in partnership with Dachis Group, built out a response model that would quickly get customers in touch with the right expert. The hub and spokes model helped @TeamTurboTax quickly get customers the help they needed. Our social-communications team acts as the hub for @TeamTurboTax, monitoring chatter and assigning tweets, and our subject-matter experts, like tax experts, act as our spokes, helping customers one-on-one.

What were the benefits and challenges of working with such a large cross-functional team?

The customer benefit of our large team was apparent right away, since we delivered an average response time of only 4 minutes all tax season. TurboTax was able to help so many more customers on Twitter in a more efficient manner than ever before. We’ve got a pretty tech- and social-savvy workforce, so the passion around this project from team members across our organization contributed to a constantly improving and morphing process for the @TeamTurboTax team all season long.

One challenge we faced at the beginning of the tax season was that we did occasionally step on each other’s toes. As time went on, we quickly got better at using the right tools to solve that problem, and customers generally appreciated too much help as opposed to none at all.

What recommendation(s) would you give to a service organization looking to develop a corporate social-media strategy?

Any service organization looking to help customers in social channels should first look inward at what has already been done with social media or communities across their functional groups, and try to partner closely together with those stakeholders from the get-go. There are good things every function, whether it’s customer service or marketing, can glean from participating in a social customer service initiative. I would also encourage service organizations to spend more time listening and thinking about process than they might initially consider doing. It’s important to know what your customers are saying in what channels, and to what extent. For example, why help customers on Twitter if your product literally is not talked about there? Consider other channels and spend time knowing where your customers will be helped best.