May 07, 2014

Horse 1670 - Be Nice To The ATO

Last week, I was filling out an Individual Tax Return for a client of ours and for the life of me, I couldn't remember what the occupation code was for an Importer/Exporter; knowing that I had until the 15th of May to get the return in (please check the ATO Website - link here) I fired off a tweet and this is the reply that I got back.

Pure. Spun. Comedy. Gold. Story. End of.

Not only was I able to finish everything quickly and efficiently but, I had a bit of fun doing it. There are a few things that I want to draw out of this.

The Australian Taxation Office services a nation of 23 million irate customers. No-one really likes to pay tax; in fact no-one really likes to pay for anything. Paying tax is then a necessary duty of the members of a civilised society and the ATO is the receiving end. I bet that in an average day dealing with the public, the ATO's staff are probably more subject to abuse and insult than any other single entity.

Come on Australia. The people who work for the Tax Office, roll up their sleeves like the rest of us, have families to go home to at the end of the day and have as many hopes, fears and dreams as any of us.  If you prick us, do we not bleed? If you tickle us, do we not laugh? If you poison us, do we not die? And if you wrong us, shall we not revenge?
I bet that the people at the ATO, also have the power to revenge in many little ways that we don't even know about. It might be possible for instance for mysterious audits to just magically appear out of nowhere.

Also, one thing I've learned over the years is that it is far easier to catch more flies with honey than you do with vinegar. Be nice to people and they're more likely to respond. Sure, I could have just as easily have looked this up myself but by thinking a little creatively, I've added to Australia's Gross National Happiness by at least a couple of Millipuppies*. Happiness is an economic commodity which in some cases has a multiplier effect.

I don't know who the person who runs the Twitter handle for the ATO is but this is an example to the world of how to do effective customer service. This is an object lesson and whoever it is deserves a gold star or a skippy badge...
I should also probably tell the ATO that Vandelay Industries, which is an Import/Export company of matches, latex products and diapers, hasn't lodged any returns for a while.

Be nice to the people at the ATO. Think people!

*Millipuppy - measure of happiness.
From Wikipedia:
Lucy van Pelt is credited in the comic strip Peanuts to have discovered the axiom "happiness is a warm puppy" (25th Apr 1962). The proposed SI unit of happiness, puppy, is derivable as the quantity of happiness that a one kilogram beagle puppy whose body temperature is 310 kelvins produces when held in skin contact for one second.

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