Sunday, February 8, 2015


It is tax season and if that is not enough to raise your anxiety level, an internal Revenue Canada study one in four callers to the agency's call centers received bad information!

The finding was uncovered through a freedom of information request that backs up the previous surveys by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business which determined that call-center employees were providing wrong or incomplete answers 19 per cent of the time.

So 25% or more of the answers regarding tax preparation provided by Revenue Canada are wrong. How many people and businesses have been forced through exhausting audits because Revenue Canada provided the wrong information?

According to a CBC story "some accounting firms routinely ask the same tax question of different call-centre workers, and use the most common response, rather than take a chance with a single inquiry that may result in bad advice."

Revenue Canada says it is improving training and "working now to establish a “calibration framework to ensure … consistency,”

Sure, problems are going to happen. As Alexander Pope said, ‘to err is human to forgive is divine’

You strive for a 100% accuracy rate. People make mistakes but a failure rate of at least 25% is unacceptable. How could the Customer Service Representatives be so poorly trained as to not be able to provide correct answers about the Canadian Tax System. 

Having worked as a CSR in the public and private sector, I do not understand this alarming revelation. People are trained, manuals, briefings and assessments are carried out on a weekly basis. If this was a private company, such a revelation would put your company's reputation at his risk and your base of customers would be reduced. 

The Revenue Canada line is an expert line. One should not have any doubts about the information provided. 

It makes me wonder if this is a training issue, poor information provided to the CSR or could it be that management is obsessed with the amount of time it takes to complete a call to the point that the calls per hour statistic trumps all?

I really do not have the answer, but I do know a number of current and former Revenue Canada CSRs who say promotions and job security are based on how quickly you can turn a call around. If that is the case than management might want to recalibrate the timescales to reflect the complicated nature of the matters being discussed to insure the right outcome not the fastest!

Could this be an an example of private sector tools being incorporated into public sector operations? That does not always work out.

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