Ted Callahan, Accountant Leader at Intuit, appeared on the Scaling New Heights Main Stage last week to answer questions directly from accountants and bookkeepers. Some of the questions were provided to Ted prior to the main stage, allowing him to research those where he didn't have direct knowledge. However, the questions were not edited and Ted did not refuse to answer any of the questions submitted to him within the time restriction of the main stage session. Here are some of the questions and answers.
Question: With the launch of QuickBooks Live and price increases for ProAdvisors, it seems that Intuit is no longer loyal to its partners. What is Intuit’s plan to mend these broken fences?
Ted first heard this sentiment when he accepted the position of Accountant Leader from one of Intuit's internal leaders who told him, "Your first job is to restore trust with ProAdvisors."
Over the past year, Ted has spent a lot of time on Zoom, trying to get to know as many accountants individually and in groups as possible. He has listened to identify trends, and one trend that he has heard is that ProAdvisors do not feel that Intuit is loyal to them.
He added, "We've made some mistakes. We have to own those."
Intuit, as part of owning their mistakes, has acted on feedback from ProAdvisors. For example, Intuit has removed QuickBooks Live as an option on the Billing and Subscription page. In addition, Ted monitors statistics on how new users engage with ProAdvisors, including one that shows that 90% of new QuickBooks users choose ProAdvisor when, as part of their sign-up process, they are offered the choice of using QuickBooks Live or finding a ProAdvisor.
Question: Advanced Certified ProAdvisors need advanced support from Intuit Tech Support. When can we expect to get what we used to get?
Intuit is making transformational changes in customer support, beginning with ProAdvisor support before improving support for other QuickBooks customers.
Some ProAdvisors have already seen the changes that Intuit discussed in early October. Key changes are:
- Identifying the type of support that is needed, including the improved "Call me back" feature which lets the support team know who you are and the type of issue you are having
- Routing each support case to the appropriate support team
- Training dedicated support teams for QBO, QBD and Payroll to ensure you are connected with an agent who has the expertise to answer questions specific to the product you are using
- Returning ProAdvisor support to the United States
Timeline for support improvement rollouts are as follows
- Dedicated payroll support team - already rolled out
- 100% US-based support
- Platinum and Elite ProAdvisors - already rolled out
- Gold ProAdvisors - will roll out in December
- Silver ProAdvisors - will roll out early 2022
Question: What’s the future for QuickBooks Desktop?
Based on his conversations with the Desktop team, which he does not lead, Ted reaffirmed Intuit's commitment to providing Desktop for as long as people want to continue using Desktop, saying, "The future of Desktop is bright and focused."
- Allow the Desktop team to focus on only one Desktop product, allowing them to develop and roll out premium features that will provide time- and money-saving opportunities
- Offer automated backup and data recovery
- Provide unlimited support
Question: What is new with technology innovation at Intuit in terms of automation, machine learning, or AI in QuickBooks products?
Ted answered with an outside-in perspective. Before joining Intuit, Ted worked in venture capital and was in the position to examine companies that were promising to do amazing things with machine learning. Looking at the future of technology, Ted recognized that since you have to have access to a very large data set to do anything unique with machine learning, he was interested in organizations that have data AND actually want to do good things with that data.
The focus on "doing good" comes from Ted's experience in the non-profit world prior to business school. Once he got to know the Intuit team, he was blown away both during the initial meetings (and over the four years he has been with Intuit), because Intuit is the most mission-driven organization he has worked with since he was in non-profits.
Although Ted was unable to provide information around specific technology innovations at Intuit based on automation, machine learning, or AI, he highlighted the extreme care that Intuit uses in managing data. Intuit maintains and trains on data stewardship principles.
Question: Can you tell us about the accountant’s role in QBO product development?
Intuit is focused on designing customer experiences based on accountant and bookkeeper input and the input of small businesses. According to Ted, every product team observes users actually working in the product and then determines how to improve the product or even completely change the way the software can be used.
Intuit also has an accountant council in which accountants sign NDAs, view the entire product roadmap on top priorities and provide input. To maximize the knowledge and expertise of the accountant council members, Ted, since taking on the role of Accountant Leader, has begun embedding the council members into the monthly product review experience to provide ongoing feedback throughout the year.
Question: Why can't QBO fetch banks statements for some of the banks my clients use? And why do bank feeds get disconnected so often?
QBO is limited in its ability to fetch bank statements because of those banks that do not provide that information to Intuit. Intuit has an entire team that actively and robustly works to gain access to data for bank feeds and to improve existing bank feeds so they don't get disconnected so frequently.
Question: Can you explain the order in which QBO is updated. Some of my clients still don't have the ability to attach bank statements in the reconciliation window and that was released two years ago.
This specific feature, the ability to attach bank statements in the reconciliation window, has only been rolled out in Advanced and Plus right now.
Question: Why is QBO Advanced so expensive? It makes it difficult for small businesses to make the switch from Desktop or lower Online versions. Is QBO Advanced expected to become more affordable any time soon?
Ted said that he does not foresee pricing decreases for QBO Advanced citing Intuit's internal perspective. The QuickBooks Advanced product is trying to do two jobs. First, it serves as the premier QuickBooks product and is there for their clients who want a premium product with advanced features. Second, Intuit has a vision to disrupt the mid-market space that currently is filled with software that may cost 10x the price and is additionally hard to use.
Joe then asked Ted for his final thoughts.
Ted answered, "My first commitment to you is as a human. My commitment to you is that I am going to honor your humanity. I'm going to take all of (what I've heard from you) to our team so they understand the totality of your perspective... so we can provide you with the tools you need in the ways that you want to work so you look like heroes to your clients... so we are not setting you up to fail... we're not surprising you with product features they got first that you didn't know about. We are honoring our commitment to you. You are fundamental to the success of QuickBooks and we are together going to make the right changes."