TREASURY INSPECTOR GENERAL FOR TAX ADMINISTRATION

Office of Audit

Highlights

CONTACT ANALYTICS HAS BEEN USED TO IMPROVE TAXPAYER SERVICE, BUT NOT ALL FRONT-LINE EMPLOYEES
ARE AWARE OF THE PROCESS TO SUBMIT CUSTOMER SERVICE ISSUES

Final Report issued on August 26, 2016

Highlights of Reference Number:  2016-40-076 to the Internal Revenue Service Commissioner for the Wage and Investment Division.

 

IMPACT ON TAXPAYERS

In October 2009, the IRS began using a software tool called Contact Analytics to analyze recorded telephone calls from taxpayers to identify opportunities to improve customer service as well as reduce the costs of providing taxpayer service.  The use of Contact Analytics can result in the IRS sending an alert to its customer service employees or providing information to taxpayers via its public website.

WHY TIGTA DID THE AUDIT

From October 2011 through December 2014, the IRS rolled out its Hear Me Process to front‑line employees.  The Hear Me Process allows front-line employees to identify emerging taxpayer service issues.  Contact Analytics can then be used to research the issue to improve the taxpayer experience by providing alternative and more cost-effective services.  This audit was initiated to determine whether Contact Analytics is used to improve taxpayer service and provide services more efficiently.

WHAT TIGTA FOUND

Our review identified that the use of Contact Analytics is assisting the IRS in identifying customer service issues and concerns.  In turn, the results from the research performed by the Contact Analytics Center of Excellence (CACoE) are being used to improve services to taxpayers.  However, not all front-line employees are aware of the Hear Me Process or how to use it.  Our interviews with 24 customer service representatives identified that 17 (71 percent) did not have sufficient knowledge of the Hear Me Process, including how to submit a taxpayer service issue.

In addition, processes to request, receive, and retain assessments of the value of Contact Analytic research results need to be improved.  Our review of 74 completed research requests of the 103 the CACoE received during Fiscal Year 2015 identified 30 (41 percent) for which the CACoE could not provide documentation to show that a response was in fact requested from the functional area submitting the research request or that a follow‑up request was made by the CACoE when a response was not received.  

Also, our review of 32 judgmentally selected requests from the 103 research requests the CACoE received during Fiscal Year 2015 identified that 17 (53 percent) were not assigned the required identification number.  Finally, TIGTA reviewed all 10 research requests that IRS executives directly submitted to the CACoE and identified that five (50 percent) did not have the required title or description of the search request, both of which are needed for identification and tracking.

WHAT TIGTA RECOMMENDED

TIGTA recommended that the IRS: 1) ensure that all front-line employees are aware of the Hear Me Process and receive training on how to use the process; 2) require business functional areas to provide an assessment of research results, including the usefulness of data provided, and actions taken based on data provided as a means to continue to measure and improve the effectiveness of Contact Analytics; 3) revise CACoE procedures to require analysts to upload and associate assessments of research results with the initial request for future reference on the CACoE SharePoint site; and 4) ensure that the CACoE follows requirements to assign search request identification numbers, titles, and descriptions for Customer Early Warning System and executive search requests.

The IRS agreed with all of our recommendations.  The IRS plans to develop training and revise procedures related to obtaining and maintaining feedback on the value of Contact Analytics research.

READ THE FULL REPORT

To view the report, including the scope, methodology, and full IRS response, go to:

http://www.treasury.gov/tigta/auditreports/2016reports/201640076fr.pdf.

 

Phone Number   /  202-622-6500

E-mail Address  /  TIGTACommunications@tigta.treas.gov

Website             /  https://www.treasury.gov/tigta