Case Study

H&R Block Provides a Frictionless Customer Support Experience with Lithium

H&R Block is the world’s largest tax services provider, having prepared more than 650 million tax returns since 1955. In fiscal 2015, H&R Block prepared 24.2 million tax returns around the world—1 in every 7 U.S. tax returns and over $50 billion in tax refunds, credits, and other government benefits. All of this is done with the dedicated help and knowledge of over 80,000 highly trained tax professionals nationwide. Since embarking on its online community initiative in 2013, H&R Block has built an active and thriving community that serves both their associates and clients while increasing efficiency and cutting costs.

  • Goal

    Develop an active and thriving associate community that allows associates nationwide to share knowledge, best practices, and feedback.

  • Solution

    Launch a Lithium-powered community to make self-service behavior the default behavior for clients and associates. Build a strong network of members and associates with extensive tax knowledge.

“Our clients needed a different way to access help—regardless of the time of day, complexity of the question, or how long the wait time was for phone or chat support. We delivered.”

Tell us about your overarching community goals.

By early 2014, we had the idea that community would not only help our clients, but could help our 80,000 associates across the country as well. After conducting a successful pilot within the client community, we built a second dedicated Lithium community—DNA Communities—in June 2015. Together, the goals for H&R Block community initiative echo the values and visions of H&R Block:

  • Develop an active and thriving associate community that allows associates nationwide to share knowledge, best practices, and feedback. We believe in our people.
  • Strive to provide a frictionless client experience regardless of time of day, type of question, or product used. We take care of all clients.
  • Augment existing client support options with an efficient, cost effective solution that contributes to the financial success of H&R Block as a whole. We deliver for our shareholders.

What are the key strategies you have used to help meet these goals?

In order to build an active, sustainable, and cost effective community for both H&R Block clients and associates, we identified the following as necessary focus areas:

  • Make self-service behavior the default behavior for clients and associates. In order to change the behavior of both clients and associates, we made subtle modifications to the environments they were already familiar with. In the client community, this meant changes that encouraged searching and browsing instead of posting and leaving. Changes included re-locating the search bar in a prominent location, multiple modules for timely content and shifting the forum boards further down the page. In the associate community, we mimicked the existing intranet down to every detail associates were familiar with. We also developed a customized single sign on (SSO) portal that automatically recognized associates by employee ID and assigned permissions based on job codes. It is an entirely frictionless experience—and far easier than searching for the right contact in e-mail.
  • Build a strong network of members and associates with extensive tax knowledge. In order to effectively manage the volume of posts that occur during the tax season, we recognized and supported early “super users” in the community and continue to employ strategies to identify potential new super users to help us support a growing member base. Super users, who are largely H&R Block associates and geographically dispersed, contribute to the community when they have excess capacity, answering member questions at all hours of the day and creating economic efficiencies, supporting all of our primary goals.

What are some of the metrics yielded from your community thus far?

As of April 19th, The Community had provided approximately $2.7 million in services with 1,742 solutions and over 262,000 successful searches (87% successful search rate since improvements). The DNA Community, specifically, has proven to be a major success in just 8 months since launch. DNA Communities has provided over $1.64 million in services with 2,487 solutions and over 152,000 successful searches.

Everything we have accomplished has been with two dedicated community team employees, less than a dozen very dedicated and passionate super users, and over 150 employees whose jobs have been made easier by leading community efforts in their existing roles. The value of services provided by the community is far more than the cost of providing these services.

Our top six active super users have voluntarily provided the client community 807 solutions that have been viewed over 1.2 million times. On average, our top super user—a retired tax professional—provides an estimated $45,000 in services per year. In total, the community initiative at H&R Block has provided well over an estimated $4.3 million in services in the course of four tax seasons. We look forward to many more years of successful community building and helping millions of clients, potential clients, and associates.