2007 Winner: Outstanding Commercial Achievement in Alberta Science and Technology (>25M)
Accounting Software Firm, Leader In Market Penetration And Consumer Satisfaction
In 1993, a couple of students working out of a basement in Edmonton founded WinTax, a company whose software allowed people to fill out their own tax forms on their home computers. 14 years later, the company is still headquartered in Edmonton but it employs some 400 people throughout its offices in Calgary, Toronto and Ottawa.
Now known as Intuit Canada, the accounting software firm is a leader in market penetration, customer service and, most importantly, employee satisfaction. Intuit Canada’s executives are most proud of their community involvement and the level of engagement shown by the company’s employees, both in terms of charitable activities and workplace satisfaction.
Excellent Community Involvement
It’s a tribute to the staff and the Intuit culture that the company contributed a record-setting 87% volunteer-participation level and an astounding 7,082 total volunteer hours over the last 12 months. Intuit supports such endeavours through corporate grants to the each staff member’s favourite charities. Recent efforts have focused on the three-year-old Batting Against Breast Cancer softball tournament and the Edmonton-area house Intuit built through Habitat for Humanity.
The above tells us that in presenting Intuit with the Outstanding Commercial Achievement in Alberta Science and Technology Award, ASTech pays tribute to an organisation that subscribes to the Alberta ethos of working hard and giving back to the community that supports your business.
But is that enough to garner an ASTech Award? Can we believe Chief Technology Officer Cameron Peters when he says, “Intuit Canada sees itself as a company that provides great solutions to small businesses. We want to be able to help companies. We’re looking at the problems they face and trying to find elegant solutions so they can focus on their businesses.” In a word: Yes. Consider the following:
Making Accounting Accessible
Intuit’s QuickBooks program is the best-selling accounting program in Canada.
The Quicken, QuickTax, and QuickBooks packages are tops among consumers. Remarkably, ProFile and QuickBooks are just as highly regarded by accountants and bookkeepers, meaning that Intuit’s quality and expertise have allowed it to penetrate the entire market—both professional and consumer—a truly remarkable feat.
Their online and telephone customer service is so good that the average customer waits only 90 seconds to speak to a customer service agent and 90% of the calls are handled in fewer than five minutes. The overall quality of the experience has led a staggering 85% of users to give Intuit a satisfaction rating of 8 or higher on a scale of 1 to 10.
Senior executives understand that innovation cannot be generated solely by passively waiting for customer suggestions and questions. To that end, Intuit Canada actively seeks information in a number of industry-leading ways. These include town hall meetings where employees gather information publicly from consumers, as well as “Follow Me Homes,” possibly one of the company’s greatest innovations: the same engineers and product managers who develop the product go out and watch the customers using the software in their own environment. Most successful software firms are good at the technology aspect while tending to neglect the human element. That’s the strength of the “Follow Me Home” program. It forces technologists out of their comfort zone and into real world applications, giving them a more comprehensive knowledge of their own products and how they are used. This, in turn, allows Intuit to respond directly to marketplace needs.
Connecting with Consumers
Intuit Canada, through its QuickTax EasyStep Interview, has actually made it pretty painless (we won’t go so far as to say enjoyable) to file our income tax. Because it allows individuals to automate the customisation process of filling out and submitting their returns, QuickTax and its seamless integration with Revenue Canada’s NETFILE has greatly eased the annual burden of wading through dense forms and making complex calculations only to end up owing the government large sums of money. Any company that has that kind of impact on our lives deserves all the accolades it receives.
Obviously, Intuit Canada is a worthy ASTech Award Recipient. Put simply, in Intuit Canada, Alberta has a home-grown world high-tech leader (they’ve recently penetrated the UK market). We can boast of being home to a company known as much for its humanitarian, fair-minded support of employees and community as it is for its commitment to excellence, the technological brilliance of its products, and the satisfaction of its customers. Our province has a well-deserved global reputation for performance in matters related to extracting oil in a challenging environment. Companies like Intuit Canada are allowing us to build recognition in other sectors as well, adding to Alberta’s status as an economic powerhouse whose success is due more to a pioneering spirit and love of science, technology, and innovation than the coincidence of sitting atop vast reserves of black gold.