Intuit’s QuickBooks has been held up as an example of data standardization and a robust developer platform. And Quickbooks is most certainly THE de facto standard for small business accounting software. But, in recent years, newer entrants like Freshbooks and Kashoo (among others) have been stealing market share, feature by feature, with a better user experience. Accounting is no fun, but it’s actually a pleasure to send invoices and process payroll with these new platforms.

The mighty Intuit appears interested to buck this trend with its latest product update, the new QuickBooks Online. They are not bringing the update to market with a traditional playbook touting how many reports the product has or how many banks it can connect to. Instead, they are focused on Why Design Matters, and how the new look of the app will “create a harmonious user experience,” implying that users should care more about the design than about QuickBooks’ storied permissions levels and sales receipt processing. It may indeed be marketing fluff, but they’re putting their design money where their UX mouth is in a follow-up post on their blog.

To hush a user that posted something along the lines of ”but I want this feature because it’s best for me,” customer services reps are replying with data. It’s a UX researcher’s dream:

statistically the recurring page is 34th in the list of most used pages, COA is 15th

Blammo. Stop complaining. We did our research and built our product around real user usage and needs.

In that initial reply to the customer, the responding customer service agent (who is so fluent in UX language as to make you think he’s actually a product owner) also mentions that the new QuickBooks finally supports tabbed browsing. The original inquirer pushes back again, “I assume that if you open some links/functions in a new tab/window, that other open windows will not be updated with a transaction performed in a different tab/window without a manual refresh. Is that so?”

Ever-focused on the user, the agent replies:

We actually worked hard to implement that feature, so it is there. Where it applies is mainly on Customers, Vendors, and other transaction list pages.

And still the user was not satisfied, demanding perfect refreshes of every function: “So if I keep the home page [open]….I should see the bank balance shown on the home page change automatically?”

Ever cool, the UX master replies:

I will pass that use case on to our banking team though and see if we can get that working.

Use case!? They’re talking to a customer here! The CSR didn’t take it quite as far as saying he would force rank that user story in their backlog and make sure it’s tracked in GreenHopper, but they sure are training their users that direct feedback is important and will be incorporated into future versions of the software.

Smart move, Intuit. Every time a customer service agent says use case twin unicorns is born in the forest.