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Lithy category: Social ROI Titan
H&R Block is the world’s largest tax services provider, having prepared more than 650 million tax returns since 1955. There are approximately 12,000 company-owned and franchise retail locations in all 50 states, Puerto Rico and other U.S. territories, and on U.S. military bases around the world.
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.
Our 2015 Community goals
When H&R Block embarked on its community initiative in 2013, the client community – The Community – was founded with the intention of providing clients a welcoming space to talk about the implications of taxes year round. What happens if I buy a house or get married? How does having a baby or adopting affect my taxes?
The Community was never intended to replace or impact H&R Block’s client services, but as it grew and matured it evolved from a community of practice to a highly effective and widely utilized client self-service knowledgebase. 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.
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:
Our focus areas and tactics to meet our 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 from the internal intranet. We also developed a customized 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 to 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 three of our primary goals.
We built an active and thriving associate community.
As of April 19th (official close to the filing season), DNA Communities 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.
We provide a frictionless client experience.
After two subtle revisions to the community interface and an abundance of pre-season efforts, we have observed dramatic positive changes to The Community. We have more page views than ever before and an impressive increase in successful searches and super user involvement. Community sentiment continues to trend more positive with every tax season.
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).
We provide an efficient and cost-effective support solution.
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.
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