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Tax Offices go digital - Bots show Users how it works

insights · Veröffentlicht am 23.2.2022

More and more government authorities are turning to automation. Many of them rely on online support from chatbots. But automation alone does not necessarily mean efficient innovation. To be truly effective, the first step is to determine the use cases that are best suited for each government office. In the case of tax offices, the focus must be on the simplicity of the application and the creation of benefits for both customers and the office itself.

Also in the area of administration and public authorities, where the legal framework can be restrictive, there are numerous opportunities to become more efficient through innovative technologies and at the same time create positive customer experiences. 

A large number of cantons in Switzerland are already automating processes with the help of online tools such as eTax or eSteuerkonto. The study «Use of Artificial Intelligence in Administration» («Einsatz künstlicher Intelligenz in der Verwaltung») launched by the canton of Zurich in cooperation with the Law Faculty of the University of Basel is interesting in this context. According to the study, the canton of St. Gallen has already fully automated 5 % of its processes and the canton of Bern has already achieved 20 % full automation for natural persons. The canton of Obwalden is following these examples with its AI project and would also like to achieve 20 % process automation. The canton of Bern goes even further and invests in machine learning to increase to 40 % full automation.

Having a digital assistant on hand to answer customer questions directly can therefore be very helpful and useful for customer service.

To increase the level of automation, many public administrations are focusing on the development of online forms or portals. For example, some tax offices already provide digital services in the form of eTax and eSteuerkonto. eTax is an online form that makes it easier for customers to fill out their tax returns. It also helps the office to organize the volume of data and reduce the workload.

Ambiguities in the application of the new tools cannot be completely avoided; additional inquiries about this are received by customer service. Having a digital assistant on hand to answer customer questions directly can therefore be very helpful and useful for customer service.

In these tax queries the chatbot supports

The chatbot can be the first point of contact for website visitors to ask questions, and that around the clock. With its help, various use cases can be covered and handled by customers in a self-service process. Bots offer general help in answering FAQs and cover the most frequent customer questions. They also provide support when searching for forms and help with filling them out correctly.

Specific appropriate use cases for tax offices include the following:

  • Tax and interest calculator: easy calculation with the help of the bot
  • View tax invoice/order copy of invoice
  • Payment of taxes
  • Requesting an extension of the deadline for filing the tax declaration
  • Request a tax refund
  • Ask questions about the tax assessment
  • Order/retrieve copy of the tax assessment or the tax declaration
  • Obtain information regarding the purchase/sale of real estate, inheritances, gifts, lump-sum benefits from pension plans or withholding taxes (Quellensteuer)
  • Report changes to the tax office (name, address, etc.)
  • Deposit powers of attorney
  • Announcement of new information, changes in legislation or other news directly on the website

These are just a few of the many areas of application for the bot that can be implemented at tax offices. Many more are conceivable.

A look into practice: Solothurn tax office

The Solothurn Tax Office has recognized the potential of digital assistants and relies on a chatbot both for the efficient and uncomplicated processing of inquiries and for the quick answering of frequently asked questions (FAQs), thus relieving the traditional communication channels such as telephone and email. Specifically, the chatbot offers customers around-the-clock support or provides needed information for the following concerns:

  • Filing or completing the tax declaration
  • Tax invoice, payment or refund of taxes
  • Question regarding the tax assessment
  • Requesting copies of documents
  • Information on property sales/purchases, inheritances, gifts or pension capital benefits and withholding taxes (Quellensteuer)
  • Changes can be reported directly in the chatbot or powers of attorney can be forwarded.

The customer experience is much more positive due to the higher accessibility and better service quality. You can find more information about the chatbot of the Solothurn Tax Office in our customer story.

The chatbot is a versatile helper: It relieves employees of repetitive tasks and also gives customers the opportunity to solve many concerns independently. Among other things, the bot greets users at the appropriate time of day when they contact it.

The use of a bot not only gives the Tax Office an innovative and technologically advanced image to the outside world, but also provides the Office with exciting customer feedback and insights as a basis for further process optimization.

Chatbot what else?

The eGovernment strategy propagated by Switzerland calls for and promotes the continuous implementation of digitization and automation in the public sector. Tax offices also offer many promising opportunities for this. With a chatbot, customers can clarify their concerns, obtain information and quickly place orders with the tax office at any time, even outside opening hours.

The new portals, such as eTax or eSteuerkonto, offer additional relief for employees, ensure greater efficiency and also lead to higher customer satisfaction. Among other things, a bot offers government customers the support they need to use new digital tools that are a prerequisite for implementing an end-to-end eGovernment strategy, and is a win-win for both the tax office and its customers in every respect.

Dennis is an expert in Chatbots & Artificial Intelligence and is passionate about these because in customer communication they help to significantly improve both efficiency and customer experience.

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