Yes, the date sits in the mind of income earners in the United States – April 15th. Well, this year, due to weekends and the federally recognized Holiday Emancipation Day, it falls on April 18th. Three extra days to go over the numbers, double-check the calculations, and sign the form under penalty of perjury.
That entire line just above your signature says: “Under penalties of perjury, I declare that I have examined this return and accompanying schedules and statements, and to the best of my knowledge and belief, they are true, correct, and complete. Declaration of preparer (other than taxpayer) is based on all information of which preparer has any knowledge”.
That’s a mouthful and can be very intimidating, particularly coming from an organization that has the word “Service” in their name. Although most of us would acknowledge that the Internal Revenue Service has never really had much focus on customer services and customer experience.
Even with the Executive Order demanding agencies focus on the experience, I’m sure most of us that have been on that customer journey with the IRS may be skeptical that the experience will get better. Especially given the addition of nearly 87,000 IRS agents supporting their revenue collection activities.
With the additional “Service Agents”, we can certainly expect one thing to happen: an increase in the number of audits. Nothing will invoke more fear in a responsible, tax-paying citizen than that letter stating you have been selected for an audit. I know, it has happened to me. I had to collect my paperwork, request receipts and get my checkbook ready to write a check.
If you run a social media analysis or survey with individuals selected for an audit, you almost certainly know it means you will be paying more – and probably some interest and penalties.
As a result of this one “Service Organization” known as the Internal Revenue Service, most individuals have a negative view of audits. Think about your business. Even if we are not looking at taxes, an audit can often just have negative to neutral outcomes. Consider an IT audit – if everything checks out, then no action needs to be taken.
It is not like your company will get a reward from some agency for passing that audit. However, if you fail in just one area, there will be expenses, effort, and likely many meetings to discuss long-term fixes. About the only time one thinks about an Audit in a positive light is if it is pronounced with a French accent because then you are getting an Audi (I’ll take mine with the 5.2 FSI Engine).
However, when you are looking at your customer experience strategy and gaining a better understanding of your CX touchpoints, an audit can be a great thing. If you are using a customer experience software, you already get to deploy an unlimited number of touchpoint surveys (anywhere along your customer journey map).
If your CX audit shows a gap, you are able to add another Voice-of-the-Customer survey – which will include the full customer feedback loop. That is really how a CX Enterprise Software should support your business – an audit of your organization should result in positive outcomes, not a company fire drill and writing another very large check.
Getting back to my Internal Revenue Service audit all those years ago, I remember being asked to come in for an in-person review of all my documents. I still do not remember driving there, but I remember waiting in the lobby as my appointment started nearly 45 minutes late (did I mention the irony of their name having “Service” in there?).
It started with some basic questions, including expenses I had incurred over my last year in college, the income associated with tutoring and the last three months of the calendar year when I started my new career. The agent pulled out a new 1040 form, started completing fields and adding up receipts for everything from school supplies to gas.
After nearly a full hour of pointed questions (that continued to make me full as I had really messed up), he walked me through a new 1040 form that I had never used before. He asked me to confirm a couple more things then pointed to the bottom line. It was a much bigger number than I could have imagined. As my heart raced thinking about my refund that was a couple hundred dollars, I was now looking at a four-digit number – how could I really owe that much? Then he corrected my assumption, instead of owing money, I was getting back even more money – at least twenty times more.
The audit was triggered by my “tutoring business”, but in doing an honest review of everything, I found that I was not properly accounting for everything, in particular my costs associated with running that business, which could not be computed on the simple tax form that I was using.
Put On Your Party Hat – Time for an Audit
When you complete an honest assessment, the outcome can be beneficial. Particularly when it comes to your Customer Experience program. Take five minutes and complete an audit for your organization here.
You may discover a gap in measurement, an opportunity to improve a process, the place where an organizational shift needs to take place or an opportunity to win a greater share of your customers’ wallets.
We all want that bigger “return”. In this situation, the worst case scenario is that you’ll get some information that will help your organization since there is no cost or obligation in completing this audit.
And don’t forget to file your taxes!