Addressing the Peak Experience

As a Product Design Intern on the team of 3 (senior product designer. content designer), we defined a strategy to tackle peak tax season on TurboTax and the overwhelming demand from customers with a limited supply of available tax experts.



The high demand at the tax deadline for TurboTax Full Service requires a peak experience revamp for our customers and tax experts in order to increase customer satisfaction and retention.


Demand at the tax deadline peak for TurboTax Full Service in Canada has emphasized the importance of delivering the best possible experience for our customers and tax experts throughout the tax season.

Peak is defined as the period of time (April 15 - May 02 2022) where the spike in demand exceeds Tax Assistant/Expert availability, putting in jeopardy a customer’s ability to file on time.

Current state

1. Feb 2 - Apr 30, net promotor score of +40 pt
2. Feb 2 - May 31, net promotor score of +22pt
where the Global Benchmark (by SurveyMonkey) is +47pt

How might we reduce the PRS drop in TY21 to less than 5 points while maintaining a consistent quality experience with TurboTax during Peak based on data in SurveyMonkey? 

Key players

We consider the permutations of TPA and Expert availability during Peak and whether the tax return has historically been filed by the Canadian tax deadline of April 30 or not.

Project goals


Reduce the change in NPS from -18 pts in TY20 (2021) to -5 pts in TY21 (2022)


Inform customers about the high demand

Better set user expectations

Provide appropriate alternatives to the customers

Research Methods & Data Analysis


Analyzing historic survey data collected through SurveyMonkey.


Outside-in competitive research.


Discovery & ideation workshops with cross-functional partners.
Research Collection
Data Analysis


The surveys were created in 2021, prior to when I joined the team. The focus of our research was on analyzing the data collected and presenting it clearly.

Expert Pain Points

  • Lack of client responsiveness until “crunch” time
  • Pressure to meet filing goals
  • Take over incomplete files, rework required to complete
  • Overwhelming workload leads to fatigue-quality risk

Customer Pain Points

  • Long waiting period, “The wait time is unacceptable.”
  • Lack of communication, “My expert just disappeared ..”
    ”It takes so long with no explanation.”
  • Failure to file taxes on time, “Zero support. Filed my taxes late.”

The graph shows the total number of responses as 218 with a majority of the responses collected during the Peak period from April 5 2021 to May 3 2021. This further supports the assumption that survey results are extremely polarizing and may not accurately represent user sentiment.

Rationale for choice of research method, surveys

An inexpensive testing method of conducting research.

Offers a straightforward analysis and visualization of the data, SurveyMonkey also allows us to filter through all the data with key words.

Users can fill out the survey anonymously, leaving them more open to sharing truthfully.

Survey results can be extremely polarizing.

Higher measure of error in unmoderated testing as test-takers may aim to complete the survey as quickly as possible.

Variability in user understanding of questions that are more open-ended (variants on a scale of 1-10 may mean different things to different users)

Outside-In Competitive Research

Conducted competitive research with other companies that had tackled the peak experience problem in the past.

Companies like Amazon deal with peak during the holiday season, when customers make purchases on December 24 in hopes of a Christmas miracle or companies like AirCanada experience peak demand when all families plan their travels around the singular week every student is out of school.

This is all to say: Managing the peaks and valleys of demand isn't a new problem.

Key takeaways

Inform and educate customers about services

Manage expert capacity and workload

Advertising through various channels

Differential pricing based on customer and time segmentation

Discovery workshop

Research goals

1. Identify and prioritize problems collaboratively

2. Align cross-functional stakeholders on the problem space

Desired outcomes

A prioritized list of HMW (how might we ...) problem statements to kickstart future ideation and act as a set of guiding principles in the design phase.

At Intuit, we follow the Double Diamond Methodology and the discovery workshop helped with the first stage of discovering the problem. In this workshop, we had partners from design, product, marketing, and service delivery. Having the team of cross functional partners with different POVs helped create a holistic research environment and opportunity for discussion.

So, how might we ...


1. Set timing expectations upfront during onboarding (FUE)?
a. Explain the what, how, and why

2. Better communicate with customers during info gathering?
a. The impact of not providing info on time
b. The progress and timeline updates
c. Flag risks while keeping the customer comfortable


1. TPA - HMW enable TPAs to set timing expectation during welcome calls?
a. Provide ETA
b. Provide alternative next steps/options if customer is at risk of not filing on time

2. HMW help experts prioritize engagements?
a. Peak return prioritization criteria
b. Redirect customers to a better fit


Ideation workshop

Research goals

1. Ideate solutions to solve top problems collectively

2. Identify the impact on both product and service

3. Prioritize solutions

Desired outcomes

A prioritized list of potential solutions

What was the outcome?

10 major solutions were identified and prioritized based on customer impact, business impact, and feasibility. 5 of these solutions will be implemented in TY21.

The most interesting part of this internship role as a Service Design focused intern was how we worked with cross functional partners such as Product Marketing and the Service Delivery team. Having the opportunity to think of solutions in and out of product allowed me to design more comprehensively and identify the best user experience!

In-Product Changes

Sharing the process upfront

When a user lands on the page, we provides a step by step on the process and expected timelines, allowing users to know what to anticipate.

This transparency improves a user's trust with the product, and also helps users plan ahead to make sure they begin filing their taxes before the peak time period.

Inform customers about approaching deadlines and alternative solutions

Users are made aware of the tax deadline and timeline expectations through the use of a banner above the CTA.

Users are also prompted to see other TurboTax products, promoting transparency and funneling users to other alternatives.

Integrate progressive disclosure through visual indicators such as copy and colour

As the tax deadline approaches, the same banner from the first page changes colour to act as a warning and links out to a modal providing more detail on what this means for the customer.

Next steps

Data collection

Integrating passive insights tools to track the user interactions/behaviour in product.

For example:
1. How many users click the link in the modal?
2. Do users view other TurboTax products before continuing down Full Services despite potential delays?

Historical comparisons

Compare survey results from TY21 to TY20 to track the impact of efforts to customers during peak.

Post-experiment user interviews

Conduct user interviews with Experts as a retro on their TY21  experience to understand the impacts of the suggested initiatives and how to support future iterations.

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