Launch of new Revenue Website
Address by Revenue Chairman Frank Daly on the 30th March, 2004
Welcome to Dublin Castle and welcome to the launch of Revenue's new updated, upgraded, revamped, refurbished website!
We had some slight reservations about having a launch for this development but easily convinced ourselves that it was justified simply because of the important role that the web now plays in everybody's life and because it is the preferred means by which we in Revenue will do most of our business in the future.
There is no Government Department which has so much interaction every day with the citizens - individual and corporate - of this country and indeed it is arguable that there are few Departments whose mandate impacts as much on the day to day affairs of those citizens.
As such we would struggle hard to overestimate the importance of good accessible information and to underestimate the rights that all citizens have to such information. Furthermore it would be a lost opportunity should any Government Department, let alone one as large as Revenue, not exploit to the full the potential of the web to do our business better.
In Revenue we have 7,000 staff working from more than 130 addresses around the country, serving the needs of over 2.8 million customers between personal and business taxpayers. Each and every day we deal with a potentially bewildering range of business - everything from getting a bookie's licence, to tax clearance for sale of a property, to searching for contraband, to tax relief for disabled drivers, to collecting plastic bag tax, to registering charities or of course to collecting from offshore defaulters.
I can think of no area of our work where access to information in the shape of guides, leaflets, forms and instructions is not essential for our customers and our staff. I can think of no area of our work where the easier that access is, the more effective is the service we can give and the more effective are all our operations.
Every day our customers and ourselves need ready access to tens of thousands of documents and to the most relevant and up to date information we can provide. It has always been a constant challenge to our communications skills to get this information out to the appropriate audience in the most usable form for the greater efficiency of our customs and tax systems.
On the Job
Recently (during the course of a somewhat traumatic morning) I had the privilege of spending Daffodil Day working in CRIO, the Central Revenue Information Office in Cathedral Street.
As well as raising some money for charity, the experience gave me the opportunity to come face to face with the urgent and very diverse needs of individual customers that depend on Revenue for information.
Their questions covered a good range of Revenue business. Thanks to the expert assistance of the CRIO staff, we gave the customers whom I saw that day the first-class service to which they are entitled. But the numbers I saw were only a handful and the range of issues I was asked about even less (thank God!). The reality of course is that the CRIO and all Revenue front-line office, as well as our phone services, are at the forefront of real interaction and real communication with our customers. Our staff in these areas provide information and services on every tax and duty administered by Revenue, using a great many forms and leaflets and using access to the myriad systems that are the basic toolset of the Revenue official.
I think it is a triumph of good communications that our frontline officers can provide this service and attend to each customer's specific needs, without slipping into the in-house jargon that goes cheek-by-jowl with the systems we have to use in our daily duties. I also think it is fair to say that the success of our customer service operations over the last decade or so stems from a desire and a drive to communicate better with our customers - to help them deal with their tax and customs business.
This willing, helpful, frontline service - building real lines of communication with our customers - does more than any PR or any Charters or any grand policy statements, to help citizens understand Revenue's role in society and to build their confidence in the Irish tax and customs administration.
Moving to the web
It is a natural progression then, as more and more citizens become familiar with the internet and indeed begin to rely on it as their key information source, that Revenue should not just keep up with the play but, as we've done so often in the past, be out there making the running with our new website.
It would have been easy to sit back - after all it's not much more than a year ago that our previous website won public service website of the year. But the time to keep moving is when you're winning.
Revenue's website has now been redesigned as nothing less than a self-service front office that can assist with queries on any Revenue matter. The site's new design allows customers to access information that is most relevant to their needs. Customers are invited to select the most appropriate profile from logical categories of individual taxpayers, PAYE customers, business customers and the information provided is intuitive, relevant and only one click away.
The link to the ROS site allows our customers to securely file their returns and pay their taxes on-line - a service that is now an extraordinary success and a huge growth area for us.
Dynamic headlines and Revenue news alerts on the homepage mirror events as they occur or as the Revenue calendar unfolds. The site operates on several levels to assist our customers to comply with their Revenue obligations and ever-present reminders reassure browsers that more help is only a click away.
Already the feedback indicates that our redesigned website has been welcomed by users who find the navigation simple and the categorisation easy to use. Perhaps it's a paradox that as our tax system was being simplified in recent times and as our customer base continues to grow exponentially, many of our customers found our former site had grown difficult to navigate or they reported too many challenges in finding what they were looking for.
Already we're hearing that the majority of new users visiting the new site do not have the same difficulty and that frequent users of the old site have mostly received the new site well and welcome the changes. User-test feedback tells us that the user-classification and customer categorisation structures on the new site are much more defined and logical than the older site and this helps Revenue to provide a better service to our customers.
I wish to thank the members of the Internet Project Team, the staff of the Electronic Communications Unit, our colleagues in St. John's Road and the staff of Revenue's partners in Strata 3, for all the effort and work that went into the redesign.
I also want to thank those who pioneered Revenue's original ventures into a website - you paved the way and the groundwork is all yours.
Revenue's new website is more user-friendly, more easily navigable, more accessible - quite simply we now have tool that enables us to communicate better with our customers and provide a better service than ever before.
In recent months, as our business continues to expand, there has been enormous pressure on our telephones and on our post and we have struggled to keep to our service standards. We will all be better off if we can divert as much of our routine business as possible to the net - doing so will enable us in Revenue to achieve better turnaround times for the non routine work that needs the expertise and intervention of individual officers. I am concerned at the volume of routine queries that are coming in to our phones and tying up staff when a simple bit of browsing on our website would provide the answer.
I therefore urge everybody here today, and particularly those who represent our customers, to use and exploit this new website to the greatest extent possible. Give us feedback about how you see it and about how we can improve it further. Above all encourage others to use it - it makes sense for everybody and it means better service for you.