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"Making Tax Easier for Kiwis" - Case study from Inland Revenue

Inland Revenue is making tax simpler, more open and more certain for customers and businesses. We've made great strides towards making it easier to file a tax return and claim a refund, receive the right entitlements, pay GST and find information online or talk with us in person.

Customers Moving to Digital

We are helping our customers to do more online and save time by improving our online services, making it easier to register, and promoting our online services in new ways.

Customers are embracing new digital opportunities with the number of people moving to online services increasing dramatically - last year 67% of returns and almost 83% of payments were done online.

This year we improved our website and 'myIR' online services, and made it easier to register and find information. People can now activate their new 'myIR' account instantly via text. We introduced more online documents to provide access to statements, notices and letters electronically.

Completing tax and social policy obligations online also helps customers to get it right the first time. This year 80% of tax refunds from Personal Tax Summaries were received by customers within one day.

The number of self-help service contacts has increased by nearly two million since last year; this means that when customers do need to call us they don't have to wait long and we are available to help them with their more complex queries.

Customers expect to be able to interact with us using all their digital devices. In January 2015, we launched our new free mobile application ‘myIR' on Apple products. This enables small to medium enterprises to manage their GST through their smartphone.

We are continually improving our website and YouTube information to make sure customers are able to find the information they need when they need it. One of the improvements this year was to add transcripts of our introductory videos written in Korean and traditional and simplified Chinese to reflect the changing needs of our customers. These are in addition to the existing information in English, Māori and New Zealand Sign Language.

Our work to make tax easier to understand on our website was recognised in December 2014 when ird.govt.nz won the ESET NetGuide best Government website award for the eighth time in nine years.

Better Call Handling

Going digital gives customers increased certainty. But if they need to call us we're answering more calls and answering them faster: 75% of our 3.24 million calls received last year were answered in less than two minutes. Reducing the time it takes for us to answer customers' telephone calls improves their experience and satisfaction. This is why we aim to answer calls as quickly as possible.

We introduced Voice ID in November 2011 as a way to recognise people and remove the need for us to ask questions to confirm that we are talking to the right people. This saves the customer time and enables us to answer calls faster. People register with Voice ID once then use the system each time they call. At the end of June 2015, 1.5 million people were registered for Voice ID. Inland Revenue has one of the world's highest rates of enrolment for voice recognition services.

Building on our experience from previous years, we have planned better to manage our peak times, taking a customer-centric approach rather than a service-level centric approach. For example, this year we better understood the key reasons customers contact us and focused on capacity to anticipate and minimise repeat contacts for these services.

We managed our calls more effectively by directing calls to staff with the best skills to help and by offering our customers call back options, including the opportunity to book a time for us to call them back when they are free. We have also reduced the number of phone calls that are related to follow-up contact by improving how quickly we get back to people.

Our technology and service delivery teams worked closely together to ensure there was increased support for our systems so they were available during our busiest times.

Targeted Marketing and Communications

Proactive, targeted marketing and communication to customers helped to direct customers to the right channel to file and pay on time and manage peak demand times more effectively.

One example was this year's peak season "The tax refund workout" marketing campaign which aimed to get people who think they may be due a tax refund to check and confirm through 'myIR'. The campaign used a combination of online advertising, direct marketing activity and communications to reach customers before they needed to call us.

All of these activities contribute to Better Public Services, making it simpler and more seamless for New Zealanders to deal with Government. There is more to come with planned improvements to many aspects of New Zealand's tax system in the coming years that will make it simpler and reduce compliance cost for Kiwis.

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