As the second-largest retail assisted tax prep brand in the country, Jackson Hewitt prepares millions of federal, state, and local income tax returns every year. Headquartered in Jersey City, New Jersey, Jackson Hewitt has been a trusted tax advisory for over 35 years and boasts nearly 6,000 locations across the United States.
In July of 2020, Jackson Hewitt implemented Podium to streamline its online review program. With Podium, Jackson Hewitt saw a 64% increase in the quantity of reviews year-over-year, increased their overall average star rating from 4.73 to 4.77, and saved certain franchise owners a combined 150 hours each tax season in reporting.
While Jackson Hewitt boasted very high customer experience scores, they struggled to get customers to share their experience online in reviews.
Manual review invites yielded meager results
Years before launching a manually-driven review collection program, Jackson Hewitt had less than one review per store location. But even after implementing a standardized process to collect reviews—asking each customer while their tax return was printed—Jackson Hewitt could only scale to 10 reviews per store.
Inconsistent review processes created internal silos
With the lack of reviews for each location, individual franchisees started building their own aids and assets to increase reviews. Different processes at each location created inconsistency and kept the corporate team out of the loop.
No scalable system for Google Reviews meant missing out on potential clients
Arul Sundaram, a Senior Director at Jackson Hewitt, started to see a few franchisees shift and focus solely on Google Reviews. As he spoke to franchise owners, he heard similar feedback, “What’s really driving clients for us this year are Google Reviews.”
Concerns around negative reviews
As franchise owners asked customers for reviews, concerns about negative reviews increased. Often the only customers that posted reviews were the few that had an atypical, negative experience. This left the franchisees nervous to actively solicit reviews.
Strict compliance regulations
As a regulated payer to service delivered through a retail footprint, it’s critical Jackson Hewitt follow both legal regulations and compliance. The team wasn’t clear on how they would get review data in and how they should communicate with customers. Sending text messages in place of a verbal review ask was enticing, but the team needed every aspect of the process to be approved through their legal team.
The Podium Solution
Realizing that their online reputation was key to attracting new clients, Jackson Hewitt set out to find a solution that would automate and bring consistency to asking for reviews. With Podium, they found what they were looking for—asking for reviews via text.
A Successful Beta Rollout of Podium Reviews
In July of 2020, Jackson Hewitt rolled out a beta program of Podium Reviews to 20 high-performing, corporate-owned locations. After the first three or four weeks, the positive feedback came rolling in. “We had stores running the program asking to continue for the rest of the season. We had managers saying they really liked it,” said Arul. “We compared the percentage of customers converting before Podium versus those that converted after and we saw a lift. It worked,” said Arul.
In January of 2021, the team scaled the new review program to 2,000 more Jackson Hewitt corporate stores and implemented a more automated program. Now, the Jackson Hewitt team sends a contact file with consenting customers directly to Podium. Podium scrubs the file sends out review invites via text message, and customers quickly complete their online reviews.
A Personalized Review Experience
To provide a personalized experience, while also maintaining a high standard for data security, the team couldn’t allow all 25,000 employees—many of which are seasonal—to log in to see reporting data or send personalized review requests from their own devices. With Podium’s help, Jackson Hewitt delivers QR codes to each office, automatically linking directly to the Google Business Profile page for each specific store. Clients scan the code, confirm their location, and leave a review.
Results and ROI
→ 64% increase in the quantity of reviews YOY and an increase in average star rating from 4.73 to a 4.77
Jackson Hewitt increased their total reviews to over 88,000. “Podium has helped us see that asking everybody helps. If a tax preparer forgets to ask the customer for a review, we have a solution for that,” said Arul. “And reviews are up 64% year-over-year!”
→ 15% review response rate for franchise locations
With Podium, franchisees saw an average review response rate of up to 15%. Corporate offices also saw higher response rates than ever before at 9%, triple the response compared to locations not in the program.
→ Increase in new Jackson Hewitt customers
Jackson Hewitt saw those offices that had more reviews had more new client growth than stores with fewer / no reviews. With higher reviews, rankings increase over time and new customers have the opportunity to read third-party feedback about their local store.
→ A scalable system for requesting and responding to reviews
After analyzing the review data, the team found that Thursday and Friday were the most common days for review completion. But most customers visited Jackson Hewitt on Mondays and Tuesdays. The lag proved the need for the follow-up reminder instead of relying solely on the in-person ask. “We knew not everyone was asking for a review—and we needed help following up. Implementing Podium solved both of those problems,” said Arul.
→ Increased visibility into reviews by location
With Podium, review data from each franchise and corporate location now routes to a single dashboard—improving visibility for Arul’s team. “It was really useful to see it all in one place. Getting that data at the office level was a huge win for us.”
→ Found a partner in innovation and solution development
One of the most valuable results Jackson Hewitt found after implementing Podium was the partnership with the Podium team. “It makes such a difference and it’s so useful to have a Podium team thinking about how to fit Podium into how Jackson Hewitt works,” said Arul.
→ Simplified and improved client experience
With Podium, the review ask is self-explanatory and easy. “For those people that might have gotten lost trying to post a review, those that might have never left a review, or those that didn’t know how to leave a review—Podium has simplified the entire process. It’s just a better experience for clients,” said Arul.
→ Increased resolved issues while changing negative reviews to positive reviews
As more and more reviews come in for each Jackson Hewitt location, the team has implemented a process to navigate and respond to negative reviews. “The office is now able to follow up with the client and resolve the issue. In the past, it was challenging to ask the customer to update their review—now it’s so much simpler,” said Arul.
→ Saved a combined 150 hours across 10 franchisees during tax season
Estimating a total of 15 saved hours during tax season for each of the 10 franchisees in their beta program, Jackson Hewitt saw a combined time savings of 150 hours or 6.25 days. Each franchise owner saves at least 4 hours each month in gathering review data. As they roll out Podium to all ~350 franchisees, estimated savings are high—5,250 hours/218 days worth of work—during their 15-week tax season.
For Jackson Hewitt, implementing Podium has done more than increase review counts, average star ratings, and saved time for Jackson Hewitt tax preparers. Podium has offered a partnership, an extension of the Jackson Hewitt team—automating processes that once were manual, adding consistency to messaging and communication that once was disjointed, and implementing a review process that’s scalable, security-focused, and customer friendly.
“We evaluated several other vendors—some who were priced lower—but we chose Podium because it was clear Podium paid attention to our business and would be a partner with us,” said Arul.
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