Why H&R Block Invests So Much to Bring Human Touch to Taxes

It’s never been easier to take care of numerous tasks from behind a computer screen, but sometimes a traditional face-to-face interaction between customer and client is a key factor in driving more business. 

That high-touch connection was the topic at the final session of Adweek’s Commerceweek, with a conversation about the power of the storefront between Jill Cress, chief marketing and experience officer at H&R Block, and Jenny Rooney, chief experience officer at Adweek.

The tax preparation company has 10,000 locations open during tax season. At the start of the talk, Rooney spoke about H&R Block’s impressive footprint.

“In a time of such evolution, in the way people are shopping, buying and how brands are doing commerce, the storefront, the physical retail location at H&R Block, has withstood the test of time and is still such a core element of the experience that H&R Block is creating for its customers,” Rooney said.

Cress shared the reason behind the company’s decision to invest that much capital into having so many storefronts.

“10,000 retail locations is enormous,” Cress said. “Just to put that into perspective, Walmart has about 4,500 locations. So we are within 5 miles of every American. And, again, given the importance of that moment, for many Americans it is really intimidating and they want that experience of meeting a tax pro, looking them in the eye and feeling like they have done everything they can to maximize their return.”

H&R Block, Cress said, has the goal of creating a trusted and continued in-person relationship between tax pros and families. But being a company that heavily focuses on face-to-face interactions doesn’t mean that H&R Block undervalues or underutilizes new and powerful technology in online tax prep, including incorporating artificial intelligence into its experience to make the filing process faster.

All of that comes together to drive efficiency, Cress said.

But, at the core, the company—and its branding—is focused on creating a real-life relationship between customer and client.

“The brand is very much the experience they have with that human,” Cress said. “It is a brand that comes to life through the human expertise and care. Spending time out in the field, we have a loyal group of customers that come back every year, and it’s a very special relationship between the client and the tax pro.”

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