IRS Scandal and “Poor Customer Service”

By now you may have heard about the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) scandal in Washington, where the IRS apparently was targeting conservative Tea Party or related groups for extra scrutiny prior to the recent election. What’s most interesting about this from a customer service perspective is that the leadership noted that the scandal had nothing to do with any kind of targeting of specific groups. This was just a colossal failure in customer service.

According to an article in The Washington Post, “bad ‘customer service,’ non-apologies, and pleading the Fifth mean nobody at the IRS has raised a hand to absorb the brunt of the blame.”

Essentially, when the bad news presented itself, there were failures to take responsibility. What you would like to see in situations like this is good customer service on the backend even if there is a poor customer service upfront. Even if we were to accept the position that “Yes, it was just poor customer service,” then leadership still needs to apologize. Accountability still needs to be brought to the forefront. Being open and transparent rather than pleading the Fifth need to be a part of the approach.

In service recovery processes such as this, leadership needs to be out front, setting an example of accountability and responsibility, being open, empathetic, and transparent with the community, and generally leading by example.

With leadership neglecting to do any of these positive traits in a crisis, they’re setting the example for how their staff should behave if they ever get caught doing anything unethical, immoral, or just against basic policies and procedures. Employees are being taught to be irresponsible and to point figures elsewhere…

When responding to a crisis, remember that leaders’ behaviors are teaching their employees lessons for the future.

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Posted on in Business Advice, Government

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