Skip to main content Skip to Footer

LATEST THINKING


Next-level US taxpayer service

Seizing new opportunities can help revenue agencies advance the taxpayer experience.

Overview

Citizens want to interact with revenue agencies via digital channels, but they are not satisfied with the speed, ease of use, or range of services available today.

Now in its second year, Accenture’s Digital Taxpayers Research focuses on how revenue agencies are taking the taxpayer experience to the next level. Analysis of the United States results has identified opportunities for the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) to match the needs of digital-minded taxpayers, while expanding access to services, reducing operating costs, and realizing incremental gains in voluntary compliance.

In the United States, three key trends emerge from analyzing the views of taxpayers, clearly signaling the next steps on the IRS’s path to digital government:

  1. Taxpayers of all demographics desire a digital taxpayer experience that is personalized to their needs.

  2. Taxpayers desire an omni-channel customer service experience, where they are able to consistently and seamlessly move between traditional and digital channels.

  3. Taxpayers are accustomed to interacting with banks, tax preparers, and third-party software providers to manage their taxes. The opportunity exists for the IRS to further serve the taxpayer by expanding the scale of its customer service reach through the tax ecosystem.

Advances in digital technologies are creating many opportunities for revenue agencies to provide the simplicity, speed, and personalized experience that taxpayers are looking for.

Trend 1: Personalized Experience

Deliver a digital experience that is personalized to taxpayer needs.

Taxpayers of all ages are ready to shift from traditional to other, more cost-efficient channels.

Yet simply providing taxpayers with different channel options where they can access information is not enough.

To ensure sustained high adoption of digital channels, the IRS can develop a delivery model that ensures taxpayers have a personalized customer experience—providing a highly convenient service they can access at will via their preferred channels. Online and mobile services can also be used to better facilitate traditional channel delivery by providing more effective ways to schedule Taxpayer Assistance Center appointments and alert taxpayers when assistors are available through the display of phone and walk-in wait times.

Key Findings

  • Seventy-two percent of taxpayers want to go paper-free.

  • Sixty-eight percent of taxpayers would be willing to pilot new account services.

  • Fifty-nine percent of respondents want to receive personalized information updates, such as reminders on due dates and legislative changes.

Recommendations

  • Take a Service Design approach to gain a deeper understanding of taxpayers’ needs before designing and building services.

  • Promote high customer adoption of digital services by providing the right depth of information on the right channels, ensuring that the information presented is trustworthy and accurate, and providing ease of access and use.

  • Tailor content and systems for digital consumption—delivering relevant, simple, and helpful experiences for both the taxpayer and customer service agent.

  • Treat and care for customers as individuals to boost satisfaction with their experience and potentially boost taxpayer compliance.

  • Enhance search capabilities to make it easier for taxpayers to find what they are looking for.

"Service Design is accomplished through the use of specific Design Research methodologies that involve direct input from the taxpayer. Service Design empowers the agency to truly become taxpayer-centric by taking an outside-in perspective during the process of designing and building services."

Trend 2: Seamless Experience

Create a seamless omni-channel experience.

Enabled by technology, taxpayers expect to easily control and vary their routes within and across digital and traditional channels to suit their needs.

By integrating these channels and making it easy for taxpayers to switch between them, the IRS has an opportunity to meet the speed expectations and service preferences of multiple taxpayer segments. Staff skillsets can also be upgraded in line with rapid digital advances to offer taxpayers new services.

Key Findings

  • Ninety percent of citizens expect experiences and customer service to be “as good or better” than commercial.

  • Fifty-eight percent of taxpayers who have contacted the IRS via phone state a digital channel would be their first preference next time

  • Forty percent of taxpayers are interested in question wizards that could lead them through difficult tax issues.

  • Thirty-four percent of taxpayers are equally as interested in using a virtual agent as they are in having agent-assisted services over the phone help line.

Recommendations

  • Cultivate a seamless experience for the customer through consistent and integrated messaging on all channels and devices.

  • Create a master customer record that provides an institutional memory of the customer.

  • Infuse analytics into the culture of customer care.

  • Increase the use of automation and artificial intelligence through both online and phone virtual agents to enhance user search capabilities and answer simpler customer queries.

  • Designate a Customer Care Executive to oversee integrated services across multiple customer channels.

  • Expand workforce skills to enable customer service agents to become multi-skilled problem solvers.

  • Potentially reengineer contact center processes to provide agents with the agility to handle queries across multiple contact channels.

Trend 3: Use Tax Ecosystem

Take full advantage of the tax ecosystem to gain scale.

The tax ecosystem represents an opportunity to create an end-to-end experience across taxpayers, tax intermediaries (e.g., return preparers and third-party software providers), and information providers.

There are both human and technological resources the IRS can employ to create this seamless experience.

Key Findings

  • Sixty-seven percent of taxpayers would be interested in using third parties such as return preparers, banks, or investment companies for tax-related activities.

  • Eighty-four percent of taxpayers who frequently contact the IRS would be willing to allow the IRS to access their financial data.

  • Sixty-five percent of taxpayers want to collaborate with other stakeholders of the tax ecosystem.

  • Sixty-five percent would like an online forum where taxpayers can post questions and get advice from other taxpayers, return preparers, or the IRS itself.

Recommendations

  • Enhance customer service by providing third parties with access to account-level information.

  • Integrate tax services within third-party software applications.

  • Create a return preparer forum: Through the use of a “crowdsourcing” service, the IRS could answer most non-confidential taxpayer requests and reduce the number of contacts requiring agent assistance.

  • Consider a public-private partnership identity proofing approach, using an Out of Band Claimant Proofing Model.

"SIXTY-FIVE PERCENT OF TAXPAYERS WANT TO COLLABORATE WITH OTHER STAKEHOLDERS OF THE TAX ECOSYSTEM"

Conclusion

Knowing how to interact with taxpayers in the digital age, meeting taxpayer demands for new services, and integrating traditional and digital contact channels are all key to evolving taxpayer service. The IRS is undoubtedly on the right path—it must now expedite the delivery of new services to deliver the next level in customer care.

About the research

The Accenture Global Taxpayers Survey 2015 was conducted in June/July 2015 among 6,500 taxpayers aged 18+ who have contact with the national revenue agency in their country. The online survey was executed by Market Knowledge Online (MKO) in 12 countries: Australia, Denmark, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, New Zealand, Singapore, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States We surveyed 500 taxpayers in each country, apart from in the U.S. where the sample was 1,000. Respondents were surveyed in their local languages, with English used in Singapore. Respondents included employees, retirees, the self-employed, and small business owners.

Digital taxpayers: Taxpayers who had digital contact with their tax agency in the last 12 months. This could be only digital contact or a mix of digital and non-digital contact.

Non-digital taxpayers: Taxpayers who have only used non-digital channels to interact with their tax agency in the last 12 months.


Authors
Vanessa Godshalk

Vanessa Godshalk
Managing Director
Accenture Federal Services

Yellow Orange 
Keyatta Orlena

Keyatta Orlena
Managing Director
Accenture Federal Services

Yellow Orange 
Michael Kelly

Michael Kelly
Senior Manager
Accenture Digital

Yellow Orange 

Stay In The Know

Receive e-mails from Accenture featuring new content that matches your interests.

Visit the subscription center to make your selections and subscribe to New from Accenture.


SUGGESTED CONTENT