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Posted On September 19, 2016
Poor IRS customer service: What is the IRS doing to improve it?

Poor IRS customer service: What is the IRS doing to improve it?

The IRS’s ability to offer acceptable customer service has slipped badly in recent years. Wait times for phone service, for example, have become so long that thousands of taxpayers have hung up before they could reach someone to help them.

The main reason for the slippage is clear enough: cuts by Congress to the IRS’s budget.

But what is the IRS doing to try to respond and make better use of its remaining resources for customer service? In this post, we will consider that question.

The Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) recently released a report on how the IRS is doing at fielding phone calls.

TIGTA noted that the IRS has begun to use a software program to record calls and analyze them to find ways to improve customer service. The IRS also introduced a new initiative to enable frontline employees to do a better job of identifying customer service concerns. This initiative is called the Hear Me Process.

TIGTA found that the software program, called Content Analytics, has been useful in helping the IRS flag problems in service delivery to taxpayers. But the Hear Me Process has not been widely implemented. Many customer service representatives at the IRS, TIGTA’s research showed, lack sufficient awareness of the Hear Me Process to use it effectively.

In short, the IRS cannot blame all of its customer service problems on budget cuts by Congress. TIGTA’s report shows there are ways the IRS can use its existing resources more effectively to do a better job of helping taxpayers comply with the law.