H&R Block and the Case of the Courtesy Call

I admit it.

I filed my taxes with H&R Block this year. I know, I know. Evil faceless corporations, plumbers on the side, all that stuff. Usually I do my own taxes, but they were particularly complicated this year and I needed some help in a pinch. I don't even like H&R Block. (Only in part because I blame them for ending Ken Jenning's Jeopardy win streak.) But they were there, they were easy, they saved me a lot of time and gave me some peace of mind.

Three days later I get a phone call. "Hi, this is Nancy from H&R Block. You filed your taxes with us last week, and I was just calling to say thank you."

So much for faceless corporations. When did corporate America become so courteous?

There has been some buzz building around personalized customer followup via email. The results are almost exclusively positive. Sending a personal message touches on the heartstrings of your customers. Particularly when it comes from someone as high up as the CEO.

Apparently the traditional, brick and mortar world has caught on to this practice. Did the CEO of H&R Block call me? No. Likely it was the local shop's customer service associate, or an administrative assistant, or something of the sort. It wasn't the person that worked with me on my taxes, though that would have been a better approach I think. Regardless, it's nice to know they spend 30 seconds just to touch bases. Am I more likely to file with them again next year? Hard to say. This does raise my opinion of them even if only a little bit.

The cost to H&R Block is fairly trivial. Even if they repeat this same phone call to millions of customers it won't be a huge hit on them. The phone call literally lasted 16 seconds. When your average customer spends $200 on your product you can afford to spare a few extra seconds for a call or an email.

Heck, I say sweeten the deal. My local insurance agent loves to do this and has kept me as a loyal customer for years now. Give the customer a small thank you gift. Something like a $5 Dunkin Donuts gift card. Again, the cost is fairly marginal compared to what I'm paying H&R Block. What's $5 to me? Not much, but buying me coffee for a couple of days is a nice little perk that I'll probably remember when it's time to file again next year.

Don't overdo it.

This trend is gaining momentum right now, and eventually consumers might catch on. They will get sick of all the emails they receive from "The CEO." Don't bombard them, don't spam them, and be sure to keep it personal. Keeping it personal means that if you send an email from the CEO, and the customer replies, the CEO better be ready to email again. It's too late at that point to pass it down to customer service.

Always ask if they have any questions. H&R Block didn't. I imagine many of their customers have followup questions. The same goes for your customers. Engage them, get them talking, and you'll have a great chance to show the personality of your business to them. This helps get rid of the faceless corporation image, which is what you want.