“Why isn’t Intuit dead yet?” That was the headline of a recent Forbes article, which questioned why Intuit had survived for more than 30 years in an era when incumbents cannot keep up with the pace of technological change.

Indeed, Intuit is not only surviving, but is thriving, with its stock price continually hitting new highs. The company, which was recently named one of the world’s most innovative companies by Fast Company in 2017, is successful because it continuously reinvents itself by relentlessly focusing on the customer.

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There are three ways that Intuit has created a culture of customer obsession that you can replicate in your own organization:

1. Enable Everyone To Feel The Customer Pain (Viscerally)

Every single one of Intuit’s eight thousand employees has visited at least two of its customers’ homes or offices in the past year to observe them in their natural environment. Intuit calls these observations “follow-me-homes,” a research technique which emphasizes seeing what customers do vs. what they might self-report in a survey or do in a lab situation.

While at other companies it is typically the job of the researchers or marketers to observe customers, at Intuit it is part of everyone’s job because it creates a deep level of empathy that’s impossible to replicate. Employees are motivated to solve real-life problems when they’ve watched real people struggle first-hand.

2. Teach Employees To Convert Customer Insights Into Action

Intuit teaches employees an innovation framework called Design for Delight. This common language and set of tools is taught to all employees—even lawyers and HR—as a way to create awesome and delightful products for Intuit’s wide range of users.

The core principles of Design for Delight are:

  • Deep customer empathy – In order to “design for delight,” you must know your customer. But it goes beyond just knowing who your customers are. It means seeing the world through their eyes. What are their problems? What do they need? You must experience what the customer experiences. By doing so, you are one step closer to designing for delight.
  • Go broad to narrow – Once you have figured out your customer and their needs, you need to start figuring out solutions to their challenges. This is when you quickly start coming up with many different ideas. Remember, your first idea might not always be your best. Just because something has always been done a certain way, doesn’t mean that it can’t be improved upon. Come up with different options first, then start narrowing down and choosing what idea will really solve the problem in a delightful way.
  • Rapid experiments with customers – The purpose of experimentation is to learn, and not to prove that your idea was right. Rapid prototyping is key. Get the idea out there and test it with your customers. You might think your idea is great, but you’re not just building the product for yourself. See how it works in real life.

3. Measure “Customer Benefit”

To keep teams focused on delivering delightful experiences, Intuit measures the customer benefit, defined as the improvement in the customer’s life in what matters most when choosing this product. Intuit tracks customer benefit metrics for every product and reviews them on a regular basis alongside business metrics.

To learn more about how you can apply these principles in your own company, join us for the next PulseLocal event, where I’ll have the pleasure to present on customer obsession.

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