Scott Cook, the founder of Intuit, started the Follow Me Home practice early in the company’s history. Basically, he would hang out at the local Staples store, wait for someone to buy Quicken, and then ask to follow the customer home to watch them install and use the product. This was one of the keys to Cook’s success as a budding entrepreneur, because it allowed him to build a product that truly made a difference in people’s financial lives.
Over the years, Intuit has kept up the tradition of Follow Me Home. I usually sponsor and attend at least 20 per year. During these site visits, I spend about an hour observing a customer working in QuickBooks. I also check out their facility and how work gets done in the office. I ask questions and talk with the customer about how QuickBooks fits into the business. Interestingly, I often find that the person being interviewed gets as much out of the experience as I do: It prompts them to think about why they do business in the way that they do and to come up with ideas for improvements.
By the end of my visits, I have a good sense of the challenges faced by a particular business — and what Intuit can do to improve QuickBooks. As an added bonus, Follow Me Home allows me to get to know some amazing entrepreneurs who are truly changing the world.