Would We Do Business With This Entity If There Was An Alternative?

IRS Cutomer Service

One of the most exasperating experiences in modern life is interacting with a government bureaucracy. It might be the State Division of Motor Vehicles, the local Social Security Office or the Veterans Administration—–all of them seem to have poor customer service stemming from the fact that we HAVE to do business with them. We have no alternatives and when a commercial entity has no competition, it doesn’t have to “earn” our business. It can continue to function, regardless of how indifferent or inept its customer interface becomes.

The U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) is the obvious poster child for this phenomenon. Consider this: In the most recent tax filing season, only 25% of people who called the IRS, actually got through to a human being. This usually took place after a lengthy period of time on hold. In addition, there was a definite possibility that the person answering the IRS telephone would have been unable to correctly answer the taxpayer’s question. This abysmal performance was turned in during the first filing year when the most sweeping tax law changes since 1986 had just taken place!!! Didn’t they anticipate there would be a lot of questions? 

Under Commissioner Charles Rettig’s modernization plan released in May, the IRS outlined its proposed plans for improvement. (Readers should try not to laugh). The plan includes a goal of offering “call back capability” on 95% of IRS phone lines by the year 2024. Nina Olson, U.S. Tax Payer Advocate points out that the words “world class customer or taxpayer service” are nowhere to be found in the entire modernization document. Would any private business enterprise survive by setting its customer service expectations so low???