Intuit expanded userbase with AI assistants and virtual human experts

Enterprise

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When it comes to filing taxes, some people prefer to handle it all by themselves. Other people prefer to let the experts take care of everything. For the people somewhere in the middle, Intuit has a service called TurboTax Live, which utilizes AI to match customers with experts who will help guide them through the process.

“There’s really room for the idea of ‘do it with me’ and … you need some help and you want some guidance,’” Marianna Tessel, Intuit chief technology officer, said during a session at VentureBeat’s Transform 2021 summit.

There is more to the service beyond matching customers to experts based on scheduling. Intuit also factors in hundreds of attributes to find the right expert to address each customer’s unique needs. This application of AI allows the service to match customers with the best expert on hand within minutes via chat or video call.

The result? Intuit’s user base has increased by 70% over the past year. Customer service wait times decreased by 15%. Additionally, Intuit anticipates its user base increasing by another 90% this year.

Growth through AI

In response to a question from VentureBeat CEO Matt Marshall on how much of their success can be attributed to AI, Tessel acknowledged that while there was “no question” that there was a boost from people working remotely due to the pandemic, Intuit believes that most of the growth has happened because of the high quality and intrinsic convenience of their service, bolstered by AI.

Intuit invests into AI in three distinct fields:

  1. Knowledge engineering, which helps codify tax compliance rules into code so computers can help customers understand what information is needed and what the next step is.
  2. Machine learning, used extensively to help matchmake customers with experts and to help personalize products based on customer data.
  3. Natural language processing, so AI that can listen to the spoken words of customers and read written words, such as information on a tax document.

Tessel says that using all these fields in combination is how their AI can read a tax document, identify what type of document it is, and figure out what to do with the information on it.

When asked about lessons learned, Tessel emphasized the positive impact of engineering hygiene, asking the right questions when the numbers don’t look great and conducting root cause analyses. She also emphasized that while the migration to the cloud was difficult, not having to worry about managing infrastructure was a big boost for the company.

For Intuit, AI “is a machine and human collaboration, a lot more than we expected,” Tessel said.

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