TIGTA Seal graphic

Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration

Press Release

September 14, 2016
TIGTA - 2016-22
Contact: Karen Kraushaar, Director of Communications
(202) 622-6500

The IRS Has Used Contact Analytics Software to Improve Taxpayer Service, But Not All Front-Line Employees Know the Process to Submit Issues

WASHINGTON — The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) uses a customer service analysis software program to improve service to taxpayers, but some IRS employees are not aware of the process available to them to elevate customer service issues to their management.

This is a finding in an audit report that the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) published today.

In October 2009, the IRS began using a software tool called Contact Analytics to analyze recorded telephone calls from taxpayers in an effort to identify opportunities to improve customer service and reduce the cost 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.

From October 2011 through December 2014, the IRS rolled out its Hear Me Process to front-line employees, allowing them to identify and raise emerging taxpayer service issues. The IRS can then use the Contact Analytics software tool to research the issue and improve the taxpayer experience by providing alternative and more cost-effective services.

TIGTA initiated its review to determine whether Contact Analytics is improving the quality and efficiency of taxpayer service. TIGTA identified that the use of Contact Analytics is in fact assisting the IRS in identifying customer service issues and concerns, which improves services to taxpayers.

However, not all front-line employees are aware of the Hear Me Process or how to use it. TIGTA’s 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. Also, TIGTA found that the IRS needs to improve its processes to request, receive, and retain assessments of the value of Contact Analytics research results.

Of the 103 research requests that the Contact Analytics Center of Excellence (CACoE) received during Fiscal Year 2015, TIGTA reviewed 74 that IRS customer service employees completed. TIGTA identified 30 (41 percent) for which the CACoE could not provide documentation to show that a response was in fact requested from the IRS office submitting the research request, or that the CACoE made a follow-up request when a response was not received.

“Business results and feedback are essential elements in documenting the value of Contact Analytics and measuring its effectiveness,” said J. Russell George, the Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration. “The IRS can identify emerging issues that can improve the taxpayer experience by providing alternative and more cost-effective services,” he added.

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

Read the report.


Note: The difference between the date TIGTA issues an audit report to the Internal Revenue Service and the date TIGTA publicly releases the report is due to TIGTA's internal review process to ensure that public release is in compliance with Federal confidentiality laws.