We use QuickBooks for our accounting with an annual subscription that includes payroll. The subscription provides us with the latest version of QuickBooks every
year. We had not upgraded our software since 2008, so we decided to
install QuickBooks 2010. Installing the software was pretty simple. The
registration process, however, was one of the worst user experiences (UX) that I
have encountered. It amazes me how big companies like Intuit keep coming
up with creative ways to make their software worse.
This was such a terrible registration experience, that I tweeted about it. I received
a few "I totally agree" mentions. I was curious to see if Intuit was keeping an
eye on Twitter. They did not disappoint as someone from Intuit sent me a tweet asking
what was bad about my experience. So, I decided to write a blog post about it. I
have a preconceived notion that any registration process should never take more
than 1-2 minutes. That was definitely not the case with QuickBooks Pro 2010. Since
UX design is part of what I do, I decided to provide a few suggestions for
You need to register your software
After installing QuickBooks Pro 2010, I was greeted with the usual "You need to
register" message. I clicked on register and was presented with a new registration page.
This page actually figured out my registered userid (email) and pre-populated
the login box with it. This made me think this was going to be a fast and painless
reigstration. I entered my password and was presented a page that displayed
my company information, and some additional questions. At this point, I figure
they want to collect some information about my company, most likely to send me marketing
emails for other products based on my answers. I completed
the form and clicked next. This is where the registration process went wrong.
Call a QuickBooks representative?
After clicking next, the new page indicated that I needed to call a sales representative
to get my "activation key". I got a sinking feeling in my stomach. My first thought
is, why? QuickBooks just told me who I was and showed my business information. They
clearly know who I am at this point. So, I call the number. The response was fast
(which is good) and the representative came on the line and asked me for my serial
and product numbers. After providing the information the representative said he
is generating an activation key and it will take a few minutes to generate the key.
Okay, time out, being a computer programmer I know that it does not take several
minutes to generate a simple activation key unless you are looking for the next
As we waited for the key to be "generated", the representative proceeded to re-ask
me every question I had just answered on the second page of the registration process.
After repeating my answers to the questions he told me "we are still waiting on
the key (sure you are) and I would like to take this opportunity to tell you
about some of our other offerings". Ah, the up sell part of the program. The first
question was about payroll. However, I am already using QuickBooks for payroll processing
and he seemed disappointed in that. Next, "Do you accept credit cards?" I said no,
I currently have five active clients. "How do those clients pay you?" With a check,
was my answer. "How many checks do you receive a month?" Five. So the representative
continued with "We have a great check processing program..." and proceeded to tell
me all about it. He then concluded with, "you probably don't need that if you only
process 5 checks". No kidding. After getting all of the possible up sells out of
the way, the key (finally) was generated, I was able to enter it and complete this
ridiculously long registration process. This took about 10 minutes to complete,
which is 8 minutes longer than it should.
History will repeat itself
After I entered the "activation key" and registered QuickBooks 2010, I asked the
representative if this key was good for a re-install. Being a software developer
I sometimes clear my computer and reinstall the operating system. He said, "No,
you will have to call again and get a new activation code." Now that is awesome,
I can hardly wait.
How to make it better?
Being a software developer, I am a solution provider. I cannot stand it when people
only complain and never offer solutions. So with that, I have decided to offer some
suggestions to Intuit for improving the process, in case the twitter guy from Intuit
actually reads this. I understand Intuit is wanting you to call to finalize the
registration process for the opportunity to up sell. While, I don't agree with this,
I will keep this as part of the process. Here are some improvements.
Skip the "it is going to take a several minutes to generate your activation key"
bullshit. I have to believe most people know that is not true, so its condescending.
It is really bad taste to play tricks on your customers in order to keep them on
the line. If it really takes that long to generate a key, you need to hire new programmers.
The representative should see what has been entered on the second page of the registration
process and NOT re-ask all the same questions. This is very annoying to the customer.
The up sell page the representative sees should have some intelligence built in
for guiding the representative through what up-sells are relevant. For instance,
if I indicated we have about 5 clients, you can probably skip the check processing
Make the "activation key" reusable. If I reinstall windows and then QuickBooks Pro
2010, I should not have to repeat the phone call.
Ultimately it would be nice if I could simply register QuickBooks Pro with my serial
number, product code, QuickBooks user id and password. But that is a business decision
on Intuit’s part.
If these changes were in place I would have never tweeted about the QuickBooks registration
process being terrible. If anyone on the QuickBooks team reads this, you can take
these suggestions or leave them. However, if you keep things the way they are, you
will continue to leave customers with an unpleasant user experience.
If your development team determines that it is too hard to implement the changes
suggested above, let me know, my very talented development team is available and
would love to help. Sorry, I could not pass an opportunity to sell.