Crisis Prevention: H&R Block Agents Take ‘Empathy Training’


When we say 95% of the crises to which we’ve responded over the last 30 years of doing business have been preventable, we’re serious. That’s why we found it so interesting to read about a strategy H&R Block used in advance of our most recent (and predictably controversial) tax season. From MarketWatch:

“…this year, agents also underwent “empathy training,” which included a “refund surprise training module” to coach their responses to clients shocked or upset by a lower tax refund or a surprise tax bill, the service told MarketWatch. For example, the new training included listening to a scenario where a client who received a $1,500 refund last year learned that she owed $575 this year because she didn’t adjust her withholdings under the new tax laws.

“Imagine how it would feel if you saw a really big tax bill; you’re not used to owing any money, and now you owe $1,500. And not a lot of people have that laying around,” said Susan Waldron, H&R Block’s director of communications. “An agent might say, ‘I know you are not accustomed to owing the IRS money. Let’s discuss the options that can help.’ A lot of people don’t realize that the IRS has payment plans, and we can help people get set up.”

I’m sure anyone who works in tax preparation would tell you these types of issues are common, which is why it makes perfect sense for H&R Block to prepare.

So, what does this have to do with those of you who aren’t in the tax biz? In crisis prevention we look at categories of predictable events. In the same way that you know a fire could start and thus, you have fire extinguishers, you know that specific

You know the types of issues that might impact your niche, your area, and your specific clientele, thus you should be prepared.

Erik Bernstein

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