THE Canada Revenue Agency announced on Wednesday that in order to better serve Canadians it is implementing a three-point action plan to ensure the Auditor General of Canada’s recommendations on its call centres are adopted: focusing on modernizing technology, improving agent training, and updating service standards.
The CRA said that this action plan, supported by investments in service from Budget 2016, is already delivering results. This tax‑filing season, 74% of calls made to the CRA’s Individual Tax Enquiries lines were answered (45% by an agent, and 29% by automated service) compared to 37% for the 2015 tax-filing season (30% by an agent, and 7% by automated service).
While this represents a sign of improvement, the CRA said it will continue working to further meet the evolving expectations of Canadians. In addition, Budget 2018 invested $206 million over five years starting in 2018-19 and $33.6 million per year ongoing for the CRA to enhance service excellence.
Diane Lebouthillier, Minister of National Revenue, said:“The Canada Revenue Agency understands how important its call centre service is to Canadians. Each year, the vast majority of Canadians must interact with the Agency in one way or another. Although most interactions are now online, our call centres remain a crucial way for our clients to reach us. Our government has chosen to invest in the Agency’s services and our investments are starting to pay off. My priority remains that the Agency treat Canadians as important clients and not just taxpayers.”
- With previous investments from Budget 2016, the CRA has already taken a number of steps to improve its telephone service and accessibility, including hiring more agents. Last year the CRA had an average of 2,673 employees in its call centres compared with fewer than 2,300 in 2014-2015. Budget 2018 made further investments of $78.3 million over 5 years starting in 2018-2019 and $17.4 million per year ongoing to support these efforts and continue the progress being made to improve client services.
- The CRA’s training program was redesigned in early 2017 to better prepare newly hired agents, and to assess their readiness to leave the training environment and respond to calls. More than 700 call centre agents have now been trained using this approach.
- To strengthen the accuracy of responses provided by call centre agents, the CRA created a new quality assurance team. This new team will review and assess the quality and accuracy of the information provided to callers and identify opportunities for continuous improvement.
- The CRA’s interactive voice response system was enhanced in February 2018 to add a new feature that allows callers to confirm their account balance and last payment details without needing to speak to an agent.
- More callers can now wait in queue, which has reduced the number of call attempts needed to reach an agent from an average of 3.3 in 2015-2016 to an average of 2.1 for 2017-2018.
- File my Return, the CRA’s new service that lets eligible Canadians file returns over the phone, has been used to file nearly 50,000 returns this tax-filing season.
- To date this tax-filing season, over 27 million returns have been filed, nearly 90% of them electronically.
- The CRA is working closely with Shared Services Canada and other partners to transition to a new telephony platform. This platform will connect callers with agents more efficiently while informing them of current wait times.