Excessive Wait Times Earn CRA Call Centres a D Grade
Ottawa, ON, Canada, Jan. 7, 2020 -- The quality of service and information that small business owners receive from the Canada Revenue Agency (CRA)'s call centre has dropped, finds a new report by the Canadian Federation of Independent Business (CFIB). In the fourth edition of its CRA Report Card, CFIB awarded CRA an overall grade of D, down from a C-, based on 200 secret shopper calls to CRA's business enquiries line.
"We evaluated the CRA on real questions that our Business Counsellors answer on a regular basis. These are common questions from business owners, but some posed a real challenge for many of the agents we spoke to," said Corinne Pohlmann, CFIB's senior vice-president of national affairs. "It's very concerning to find that business owners calling the CRA are often getting inaccurate information or may be left on hold for over an hour."
This year's drop in grade was largely due to the long wait times to have questions resolved. While CRA's new phone system greatly improved the ability to connect to an agent and largely eliminated busy signals, frontline agents appear to have significantly more limits on which questions they are allowed to answer. This meant that more questions had to be transferred to a second more senior agent, increasing wait times substantially. While the average time to connect to a frontline agent was 15 minutes, the average time to reach a senior agent was one hour, and the longest wait was two hours.
Wrong information poses major problem for small businesses
"A quarter of CRA agents were unaware of the new Capital Cost Allowances that had been in place for more than six months and told callers to claim just 25 per cent of costs in the first year, not the 100 per cent they are entitled to," added Pohlmann. "This kind of misinformation is not just a waste of time for business owners, but may also cost them a significant amount of money that could otherwise be reinvested in the business or its employees."
CFIB outlines path forward for CRA
Increase CRA's service standard to ensure that 80 per cent of calls should be received by an agent within 15 minutes, up from the current 65 per cent goal.
"From our previous report cards, we know that CRA is willing to listen and improve," concluded Pohlmann. "We hope they take this feedback and use this as an opportunity to continue working to improve their customer service to Canada's small businesses going forward."
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
Date Posted: Friday, January 10, 2020
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