Several weeks ago, I posted an article about an experience Cassie and I had while filing our taxes with H&R Block. To their credit, H&R found my post and has since followed up with us.
How H&R Followed Up
One of the company’s district managers found my article. I am unsure how he found it (whether it was from a search or a referral from a colleague). Nonetheless, he took the initiative to comment on my post and then followed up with me via email. I was impressed with his initiative. He definitely showed the type of passion that great leaders possess.
We exchanged several emails over the last week and he worked very hard to help us out. Here’s the most important thing that he did – he listened. He read my post, asked a few questions and then he acted. That’s it. In reality, this is all I was hoping for (more on this in a minute). Not only did he do this, but he did so on his own accord. He is a district manager from another part of the country. That’s what I would call great customers service!
Cassie received a call today that I ended up taking. It was from the local district manager. She politely explained that she had been alerted about my post and had read it. She shared how she had followed up with the location and original representative that had helped us. As we finished up our conversation, she offered to send us a gift certificate to thank us for the feedback and to keep us as customer next year.
Overall, the H&R Block team handled out situation quite well. Cassie and I were very pleased.
What I learned from this situation
1. Make it easy for your customers to contact you. When the original situation occurred, Cassie and I stirred on it for a few days. We were pretty uneasy about the whole thing. Finally, Cassie encouraged me to post a blog about it. My initial response was not to. So I went to the H&R site looking for a directory or customer service email address. Here’s what you’ll find on their site.
When I first went to their customer service page, there is no email address to be found. I tend to spend a ton of time online and emailing is one of the easiest ways to manage all of the information that is coming in. So I decided to try the “headquarters” link instead.
Again, there was a phone number to call; however, I was hoping to find an email address. Having not found one, I waited for a couple more days. I dropped into the H&R site a couple more times prior to writing my original article. I discovered that they are out on facebook, YouTube and Twitter, but I was hoping for a simple, old school email address so I could just write someone. No such luck. So I wrote about the experience on my blog.
This is something that just about any small business person can learn from. No matter where you located, whether in the real or online world, you have give you customers easy ways to reach you. To H&R’s credit, they provide most of the tools you should have (just not the one I was looking for). They also have a talented guy on their team that took the initiative to contact me.
2. Just listen; we’re not here to hurt you. I realize that I am a marketer. I know how we are perceived, but at the end of the day, we are consumers just like everyone else. When I write about the businesses I interact with, I do so as a way to share what I have learned and hopefully use it as an opportunity to help small businesses get better at what they do. I write from the perspective of a marketer and customer. More often than not, I look for the good examples; however, there are the times when the negative examples jump out at you.
Bloggers are similar to marketers in that people seem to think we are somewhat shady. Try being a marketer who enjoys blogging! Oh, the looks you get when people find out what you do.
The thing that businesses must realize is that customers are taking charge and are no longer passively waiting to talk about their experiences. The Web has broken down many old barriers and, like it or not, they are talking. It might happen in person, on blogs, on facebook, on twitter, or any other of the dozens and dozens of Internet platforms that exist today (maybe it’s time for me to start using FourSquare). They love the companies they do business with. At the same time, they are going to hold you to the promises you make.
3. Can’t buy my love. I appreciate the fact that H&R when the extra mile and offered to send us a gift certificate to use next year. At the same time, that really wasn’t what I was after. Cassie and I have not decided if we will return next year. That remains to be seen. The original district manager that contacted me had it right. He listened and validated our concerns.
There are a whole bunch of businesses out there that can learn from what he did. More often than not, both large and small companies throw money or products at customers to fix problems. This is nice, but it is far from necessary. I am reminded of an interaction that I had with Zappos back in November. Zappos has built in mechanisms to make sure they can help out their customers and they do so in ways that costs them almost nothing.
Thanks again to the team at H&R for their follow up. We really appreciate the lengths they went to in order to make things right. They are an example of a company that is working hard to build the types of online listening posts that allow them to keep tabs on what is being said about them. Perhaps we will see you next tax season.