IRS Fails at Customer ServiceRecent budget cuts have left the IRS with 5,000 fewer employees than last year, even as it processes more tax returns, resulting in long hold times for tax payers calling their toll-free number.

Only about two thirds of callers got through to an IRS support representative this tax season, according to a recent report issued by the inspector general for tax administration. Believe it or not, this exceeds the stated goal of 61%, with IRS Commissioner Douglas Shulman taking pride in this achievement.

This is a great lesson about the impact cost-cutting has on customer service in the call center, so let’s explore it further.

The Impact of Cutting Costs

With fewer staff manning the IRS telephone lines, tax payers have to suffer with longer wait times and disgruntled agents. A major reason why only 66% of callers got through to an agent this tax season was because the remaining 34% hung up in frustration or received a busy signal.

Angry taxpayers naturally vented their anger on Twitter. Below are some heated tweets collected over the past month. Unfortunately for them, taxpayers have no ‘competitor’ to turn to, so it looks like they will have to deal with declining service standards for some time.

These staggering results showcase the impact cost-cutting has on an organization’s service levels and reputation.

IRS Hold Time Complaints

The Aftershock measures the number of complaints related to long hold times. The chart below shows that the IRS call center has frustrated tax payers with long wait times, further damaging its already poor reputation for effeciency.

In fact, it is now leads all other companies in hold-time related complaints on Twitter.

IRS Hold Time Complaints – Number of Tweets By Day

IRS Complaints By Day

US taxpayers flocked to Twitter to vent their frustration while #onholdwith the IRS. The steady spike occurred during 11am-8pm and most likely coincided with the highest hold times and call volume for the day.

IRS Hold Time Complaints – Number of Tweets By Hour

IRS Complaints By Hour

About is a website maintained by Fonolo that provides Twitter-based statistics of consumers as they vent their anger regarding long hold times. It makes them publicly available so that companies are alerted when there are problems in their contact center.

Give #onholdwith A Try

Frustrated with long call center hold times?

Simply log into your Twitter account, let everyone know who you’re #onholdwith and your message will be shared in OnHoldWith’s complaint stream. The offending company will automatically see your tweet in their feed! There is power in numbers and, hopefully, the pressure will motivate companies to make changes so you and millions of other customers aren’t suffering through a horrible call center experience.

What do you think? We’d love to hear your ideas in the comments section below.