Backgrounder: CRA’s Chief Service Officer



The Canada Revenue Agency (CRA) is listening to Canadians, changing how it operates, and improving its services with the goal to be trusted, fair and helpful by putting people first.

Although we continue to introduce new services to make it easier for Canadians to file their taxes and have access to the credits and benefits they are entitled to, we know that we are not fully meeting their needs. We know that we need to continue to improve.

To demonstrate our commitment towards this goal, we appointed the CRA’s first Chief Service Officer (CSO) in March 2018. Under the CSO’s leadership, the CRA is focusing on better understanding people’s needs and expectations in order to improve service experience and deliver better outcomes for Canadians.

Listening to Canadians

We care about how Canadians feel about the service we deliver, and we engage and consult often through a variety of means: we routinely hold consultations and public opinion research, we conduct satisfaction surveys on our website and online portals, we conduct evaluations of the quality and accuracy of the information we provide to callers, and we review comments and concerns expressed to our agents and management by phone, mail, email and over social media.

Some of the feedback we received has shown that the CRA’s reputation as a leader in service delivery is falling short of expectations. For the most part, Canadians want CRA services to be reliable, easy to use, and quick. They want CRA employees to be helpful, trustworthy and empathetic. They want to see that the Agency is working hard to deliver good services.

Here is what we are hearing from Canadians:

  • It can take too long to get an answer or to resolve an issue.
  • Information can be difficult to understand or contradictory.
  • The tax system is complex and difficult to understand.
  • It is often difficult to reach the CRA by telephone.
  • Clients receive poor customer service.
  • The red tape required to prove eligibility for certain benefits and credits can be challenging.
  • Some client segments face barriers when filing taxes and accessing services.
  • The CRA is sometimes seen as “intimidating” and lacking empathy or a personal touch.

Many of these findings have been echoed by the Taxpayers’ Ombudsman, the Auditor General of Canada, the Senate, and other groups advocating for improved tax services.

What the CRA is doing about it

Although there is no single, simple solution to addressing the concerns expressed by Canadians, the CRA is making a concerted effort to transform its approach to service by putting clients, and their specific needs, first. That’s one of the reasons the CRA appointed a Chief Service Officer.

The CSO will lead the transformation of the CRA’s service culture with a mandate to:

  • Guide the development and transformation of our programs and services to improve the service experience of Canadians both from a functional and emotional perspective.
  • Design our programs and services from a client’s perspective and across the continuum of potential interactions – programs and channels.
  • Create service outcomes that uphold – and go beyond -- what is outlined in the Taxpayers’ Bill of Rights and pro-actively leverage the feedback we get from clients in program and service design and delivery.

Since data plays a key role in supporting this new approach, we have consolidated the roles of the Chief Service Officer and the Chief Data Officer in order to effectively support the CRA’s goal to be trusted, fair and helpful by putting people first. This will allow the CRA to better use information as a strategic asset as it improves services to Canadians.

By creating this CSO role, we are demonstrating ongoing commitment to service and integrated service delivery, results of which are already being seen. Since the beginning of 2018, the CRA has taken the following actions, among others:

  • updated My Account to be clearer and easier to use;
  • released BizApp in response to requests from small business owners and sole proprietors, which lets users view their business accounts and make payments on the go;
  • launched its first “design jam” workshop to promote the co-creation of service improvements with the clients we serve;
  • reinstated the Disability Advisory Committee to consult with Canadians on CRA services, policies, communications and other initiatives related to the disability tax credit program;
  • launched the 2018 Serving You Better consultations with small and medium businesses and their representatives across Canada to improve how we help them meet their tax obligations;
  • improved its web content on to make it easier for Canadians to find and understand high-demand information;
  • improved the objections process by clarifying when an objection is the best recourse, reducing the time to resolve objections, and establishing better communication with those who filed objections.

Next steps

The CRA will launch additional consultations to better understand and meet Canadians’ expectations. These activities build upon the success the CRA has had with its Serving You Better consultations, during which the CRA gathers feedback primarily from small and medium businesses.

The upcoming consultations will supplement the input the CRA is receiving through external channels, as well as from internal mechanisms such as employee feedback and user experience testing. Information and advice received are shaping service improvements.

Over the coming year, the CRA will deliver a number of service improvements such as opening Northern Service Centres in territorial capitals, enhancing the CRA’s digital services, and implementing a new call centre platform. These service enhancements will address many of the issues Canadians have faced when they interact with the CRA. While they will be of significant benefit to Canadians, they are really just the beginning of the CRA’s client-focused approach to service.

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