Kudos to Turbo Tax (and My Tax Tips from the Trenches)
Benjamin Franklin said that the only two sure things in life are death and taxes. It is also certain that for most people, preparing taxes are complicated.
As I wrote in a previous blog, customer empathy (http://wp.me/p25Cue-B) is key in attracting and retaining clients. My most recent experience with TurboTax (http://turbotax.intuit.com) demonstrates such impressive customer empathy that I am compelled to share it. (Wouldn’t you like your customers to do that as well?)
Most of us dread doing taxes amid the looming Fear of Audit that pervades the complicated process. Many hire professionals to avoid the hassle. But by the time I collect and organize the documents, the work is already half done.
Enter TurboTax. To benefit the most from this tax preparation software, you should become intimately acquainted with how your circumstances affect your taxes. Thanks to a helpful representative from the Internal Revenue Service, I qualified for an additional deduction and a credit. Confusing wording in TurboTax’s “interview” questions, however, made entering this information impossible.
God was smiling on me when Sharon W. answered my call. Past TurboTax customer service reps were unable to help me with this question so I tried calling again. Empathetic and understanding, Sharon W. did not give up until she could help. After reaffirmingmy qualifications, she patiently walked me through the “interview questions” to satisfy the software. She was empathetic and understanding of my situation. With her help, I saved $500.
Together, we shared the rush of triumphant excitement as I hit the “file” button.
I had two other problems and she was about to get off work. I had finally found someone very helpful and I did not want to be thrown into to the general call center. So she offered to call me the next day.
And she kept her word! On the second call, she helped save me additional $800! Together, we shared the rush of triumphant excitement as I hit the “file” button.
Producing easy-to-understand tax content to a consumer audience is not easy, and TurboTax generally does this well. Providing such a consistent level of excellent customer service is not easy either. TurboTax would do well to use Sharon W as a model. I hope she someday sees this post. And no, this is not a paid endorsement.
And while I am not a tax expert, here are a few tips from the trenches:
1) Know what is deductible. It’s painful to discover deductions you missed. I know. I amended my 2010 taxes.
2) Keep good records. Keep track of every possible deduction. Since I pay for my own health insurance, I spend enough on medical expenses to get a tax deduction. I also faithfully track all my family’s medical expenses, including mileage for doctor visits, parking, co-payments and deductibles.
3) Develop spreadsheets for next year’s deductions by specific tax questions. My spreadsheets for business and medical expenses are broken down by exact information the tax forms ask. My spreadsheet features business categories that include telephone bills, supplies, hardware, marketing and training.
4) Do not procrastinate. I generally don’t, but this year I had so much client work I didn’t realize until March I was missing a 1099 form. Track expenses as they come so you don’t forget anything.
5) Begin doing taxes after collecting all the paperwork necessary. TurboTax is, however, is great about picking up where you left off.
6) Be persistent and insistent on receiving true customer service.