Intuit just announced their 1st quarter earnings and performance for Fiscal Year 2015 and among all the numbers was the fact that "outside of the US, QuickBooks Online subscribers were up more than 170 percent..." One place that kind of growth is being realized is in Australia, thanks in part to the tremendous efforts of the Intuit Australia team in their use of social media as a platform for reaching out to bookkeepers and accountants.
Intuit Australia is making its' mark by moving and shaking bookkeepers, accountants and users in what appears to be the single largest social network presence on the planet (my rough estimate, I might be a little biased). At the VIP Summit held in conjunction with QuickBooks Connect I personally congratulated Brad Paterson, Intuit's Vice President and Managing Director of their Asia-Pacific operation, as well as the entire Intuit Aussie team for their social networking achievements, and highlighted their efforts as an example for the rest of the expanding International Intuit ecosystem.
Recently I had the opportunity to discuss some of the phenomenal growth and social media campaign with Brad. My first question stemmed from my own awareness that everyone I have met from "Down Under" (and I have a lot of new found Aussie friends) who use QuickBooks Online is absolutely head-over-heals with it, so I ask Brad, "Aussie users of QBO seem even more enthused about the product than their US counterparts, to what do you attribute this?"
Brad: "Australia is very progressive when it comes to technology adoption, and people who start using QuickBooks Online tend to hit on a lot of the benefits right away. For example, mobile adoption by SMB’s in Australia is arguably higher than anywhere in the world. Likewise, QuickBooks Online usage via a mobile device is most prominent in Australia. Our mobile app is consistently ranked very high and higher than the competition. People know they can connect with us, give us feedback (good or bad) and we’ll respond. We see feedback is a gift and hope everyday it’s someone’s birthday! That tends to get people sharing more frequently via social. We’re fortunate that they’re having a good experience with QuickBooks Online."
I was interested in knowing with a limited size operation, just how many people on Team Australia were responsible for all the social media that seems so prolific, so I asked, "How many personnel do you have involved on a daily basis in the social network campaign within the Intuit Australia offices?"
Brad: "All of them! The entire Australia operation is highly engaged whether its on Twitter, LinkedIN, Facebook, blogging or even Instagram. There’s someone with “social” in their job title, but it’s actually part of everyone’s job, and as you have noticed, you’ll see most of our employees sharing news, connecting with ProAdvisors and customers, chatting with their peers in our other offices and generally flying the Intuit flag – see #intuitlife. It’s an integral part of who we are as a company and culture."
Obviously I am focusing this article on the extent to which social media has driven Intuit's success thus far in Austrialia, so I asked Brad, "To what extent do you attribute the social network campaign Intuit is using in Australia for the growth in QuickBooks Online-AU?"
Brad: "Social is a significant part of our marketing mix. Australia is ahead of the curve in terms of Financial Management Software adoption with ~80% of the market and 8% in the cloud. QuickBooks Online is the world’s most widely used cloud accounting offering and we have a great story to tell, but have only recently started to tell it in Australia. Having only really started our operations in Australia 12 months ago, social media has given us a way to take our story directly to the people we want to reach: those progressive bookkeepers, accountants and small business owners who didn’t know about us. When people become aware of us, they tend to give us a try with the majority preferring Quickbooks Online.
Social is a two-way communication channel, and we get immediate feedback on our product, marketing and people, so you’ll see our approach continues to evolve as we figure out what’s right for the market."
One of the most vocal representatives of this social networking blast is a young lady by the name of Jodi Price (better known as QBOGirl) who is a Senior Service and Support Specialist at Intuit's Melbourne, Australia office. Recently Jodi was awarded with the Intuit APAC Star Award as the Customer Champion of the Quarter for Fiscal Year 2014 4th Quarter (Shown above). Jodi describes herself as "mum to my 6 year old boy, and a lover of everything Intuit." (by the way, "mum" is Australian for 'mom', don't you just love that?) When I asked Brad specifically about Jodi's recent award, his response was, "Jodi is a star. Jodi was recognized for consistently delighting our customers, but I’d note she is a textbook example of an Intuit Australia employee: she’s a digital native who knows social is a fantastic channel for connecting with people and telling them about Intuit and our offerings. She spends a lot of time with our small business, bookkeeper and accountant clients, hears the questions they have, is passionate about their success and uses Twitter and LinkedIn to get the answers to as many people as possible."
Jodi and all her colleagues are outstanding examples of a team dedicated to a mission, but beyond that they are a team that cares about the country in which they live and the people with whom they interact. In the picture shown here, members of the team are participating in a “We Care and Give Back” day where they helped a local charity set up for a fundraising fair. If you watch the social media from this group you are constantly seeing their involvement in group activities of one sort or another, sometimes charities, sometimes new work efforts as in the "Start-up Weekend Australia" event just launched, and more often than not office after-hours comradery.
I had a suspicion that this degree of 'interaction' between the team members had a lot to do with their success so I ask Brad, "The Aussie team, from a social network perspective, seems more like what we in the US might call a “Frat House’ (Fraternity environment), they are continually having group activities that seem to foster the ‘team’ relationship, is this just part of the Aussie-nature, or is it part of your Intuit-AU plan?"
Brad: "The best businesses are built on a strong culture, and we’ve got an awesome one. The team here works so well together because they like spending time with each other, and that often carries on into the evenings and weekends, often driven by our We Care and Give Back initiatives, such as the City2Surf charity run or Wesley Mission help day. There is definitely an Aussie element to it, but I also think our relative youth as a part of Intuit give us the ability to see with fresh eyes how amazing this company truly is. We get this feedback from our partners and new employees, who consistently note how social has given them a window into our culture and reinforced their decision to partner with us.
It’s a great team with fun people under the amazing leadership of Nicolette Maury. The team remains humble and genuinely gets a kick out of helping people succeed and yes social media is a major medium they leverage and love. We’re unashamedly customer–focused, and that’s what’s helping us accelerate our growth in Australia."
You can get some idea of this comradery in this video. How fun would it be to have that kind of work environment in your office?
Intuitive Accountant would like to congratulate Intuit Australia and QBOGirl Jodi Price for taking social awareness of QuickBooks Online to a whole new level and promoting it into the stratosphere while 'delivering awesome' in the process.
Special thanks to Brad Paterson, Intuit's Vice President and Managing Director of their Asia-Pacific operation and Nicolette Maury, Managing Director for Intuit Australia, for their kind assistance in the preparation of this article.