Sasan Goodarzi, CEO of Intuit, recently spoke at HubSpot’s annual Inbound conference and shared his company’s lessons learned from the pandemic. Intuit and IDI are in the same HCM space and have partnered on solutions for mutual clients, so I was excited to attend — and I was not disappointed. Sasan delivered timely lessons from the “forced social experiment” of 2020, which any company can apply.
Here are four of Intuit’s and IDI’s lessons learned for living and working during the pandemic and beyond.
1) Practice Customer Obsession
The pandemic has created disruption in every area of life — business and personal. Small businesses and individuals are hurting. Their pocketbooks are thinner, they may be laid-off, and their social support networks are more fragile.
It’s more important than ever to emphasize customer empathy. At Intuit, “customer obsession” is the phrase of the day. The organization is doubling down on its concern for the wellbeing of its customers. At IDI, the idea of customer obsession has been replacing the ideas of customer retention and customer delight for the past year or so, and we are seeing the positive effects on our client base.
One way both Intuit and IDI practice customer obsession is through voice of the customer (VOC) research. VOC research provides a 360-degree view of the customer. The idea is to go beyond customer surveys and dig into every channel available: social listening, product usage, customer service data — every channel that can help form a complete understanding of your customers and their pain points. Intuit posts insights on a VOC Slack channel so that employees can share what they’re discovering.
At IDI, our Marketing and Account Management Department holds a weekly VOC virtual stand-up meeting — a 15-minute call dedicated to sharing what we’re hearing and seeing about our customers. We want to look at the full picture so we can keep our finger on the pulse of our clients’ and partners’ needs and top concerns.
2) Set Prosperity Goals
For many companies, 2020 has been a year of caution and attempting to mitigate losses by waiting out the pandemic. Intuit sees things differently. For them, it’s time to “swing for the fences” and set bold prosperity goals.
Intuit believes everyone should have the opportunity to prosper, and that’s more important now than ever. Sasan said that his company is setting aspirational goals to help customers double their household savings, and to increase the success rate of small businesses on their platform by ten percent, within six years.
IDI has continued to invest in recruiting and training during the pandemic so that our team can be sufficiently staffed and prepared to help clients through these challenging times. For many clients, the pandemic has afforded them the time and drive to increase the efficiency and accuracy of their HCM processes by implementing new systems or solutions.
Bold companies step up in difficult times to lead the way forward, and every organization has the opportunity to be a part of that.
3) Become a Reputation Leader
According to Sasan, it’s important to have aspirational goals for your company as well — particularly a reputation goal. Considering everything happening in the world right now, it’s important to show customers and employees that you take a stand on the issues that are important to them. What will your company be known for in the midst of the pandemic?
For example, how will you proactively support justice issues and social issues, beyond mere messaging and well-timed hashtagging? What does inclusion look like as it is lived out in your organization?
Intuit has been named one of the best workplaces for women, and they blog very transparently about pay equality within their own company.
Sasan encourages companies to be constructively dissatisfied with themselves. Intuit continuously challenges itself and strives not to get too comfortable with its successes and achievements. He is always asking, What else can we do to get to the next level of doing good in the world?
For IDI, that means actively investing in gender and racial inclusion. Historically, we have maintained about a 50/50 ratio of women to men. We’re just over 50 percent on women leaders and managers, as well.
Similarly, IDI has always been dedicated to racial equality. We recognize that it’s not enough to be non-racist, and we’re committed to being anti-racist. When recruiting, we do our part to promote understanding and provide opportunity as we intentionally strive to make IDI a diverse and inclusive place for people to work and thrive.
More than that, we don’t want to just be part of a moment in history. We want to help drive a movement in history. Starting in 2020, for every employee bonus, IDI is donating an equal portion to Black Girls Code.
4) Plan for the Future of Work
As employees are working remotely, Sasan says that now is the time to think about beloningship — how to make employees feel like they belong, and feel connected in this new world.
This year has been a kind of forced experiment that teaches us what’s possible in a virtual world. We’ve had a taste of what the future of work could look like after the pandemic, and that allows companies to be more forward-thinking.
One of the great advantages about this time is the ability to work from practically anywhere — and it’s okay to do that. We now have permission to increase our work-life balance. You can be available to family and friends when you’re needed, not just by “working from home,” but because you can work from anywhere — and, often, at any time.
Intuit and IDI have both created a team to think strategically about how to marry the best aspects of an in-person workplace with the advantages of working from anywhere. We’ve been guided by the following priorities.
It’s important to listen to all employees during this time period — particularly as we look at the question of coming back to the office and working remotely. What does it look like to work away from the office? Many extroverts can’t wait to get back into the office. Others have kids learning online, at home. Some people have health conditions that make them more vulnerable in returning to the office. Everyone’s voice matters.
While exploring how to get the best of all worlds in this hybrid-virtual world of the future, don’t claim to have all the answers. Be open to learning from outside voices, and be willing to share best practices with other organizations. We’re all in this together.
Take the time to figure out what this new future-of-work world looks like. Don’t make any rash decisions. Consider how every decision may impact other stakeholders downstream. For example, something might be working for the company internally, but does it also have a positive effect on customers?
Train your people
Training will be more important than ever. Having a really good online onboarding program and continuing education program at your company will be more important than ever in a virtual work world. You will also need to think about how to train managers and leaders to lead in a virtual world. How do you hold people accountable? How do you get their best work? How do they feel supported enough and have enough resources to be able to do it? You won’t be able to pop into your direct report’s office anymore. So how do you “pop in” in a virtual world.
IDI has written several articles about adapting to the pandemic and planning for the post-pandemic world:
- 5 Best Practices for Onboarding Remote Employees
- Prepare Your Organization Now for Post-coronavirus Worklife
- Your Remote Employees Need a Healthy Office Culture Too!
- How to Build a Strong Remote Team from a Company That's Been There
People, Connection, Caring
Sasan’s biggest takeaway from the pandemic is that the most important things are people, connection, and caring. That’s the fabric of a company. And we at IDI couldn’t agree more. Like many of us, I was hardly ever home before the pandemic. I was constantly on the run. But during the pandemic, the family has had a chance to eat dinner at the table together, play board games together, and enjoy quality time with one another. And during work time, we’re sitting on the porch together with our laptops, doing our work side-by-side.
There’s been a lot of pain and struggle during this pandemic. But it has also taught us some valuable lessons — about life and business. We have the chance to make our organizations more human, more purposeful, and more life-giving.
What will your company look like when it emerges from the pandemic?