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By Mildred Chama

The Taxpayer service delivery function plays a decisive role in the tax administration at the Zambia Revenue Authority (ZRA). It is for this reason that the Authority thinks and treats taxpayers as customers.

Typically, a customer is always associated with a person who buys goods or services from another person or business. However, for us, as a public service provider mandated to collect revenue on behalf of our people, taxpayers are our customers.

This is because the process of registering your business for tax, return filing and paying taxes requires a certain amount of service from the revenue Authority.

We have taken our mandate to a higher level by ensuring we provide services that are user-friendly, in the sense of being accessible and understandable for all in order to improve overall compliance levels with the tax obligations by encouraging, maintaining and strengthening taxpayers’ willingness to comply voluntarily.

More recently, the Authority has been on the front line in aligning to the modern age approaches of ensuring customer satisfaction. This has led to undertaking deliberate initiatives aimed at providing more accessible information and services through the use of new technology (e.g. improved call centre, established more service centres, upgraded the website and enhanced social media presence) to cater to the various needs of our customers.

Paying tax is never a choice for most people and for that reason, we believe that for people to voluntarily be tax compliant, we need to keep appreciating our taxpayers through good customer service. Although tax payment has never been a choice, the taxpayer is still important and should be treated as such. This is in full cognizance of the crucial role that our customers play in building the nation through the contribution of resources through taxes. Michael LeBoeuf, an American business author, once said “a satisfied customer is the best business strategy of all”.

Over the years, ZRA has given taxpayers the functionality of registering for tax system purposes, filing tax returns and paying tax electronically, all at times convenient to them from wherever they may be. The introduction of the TaxOnPhone, a mobile phone-based system has proved popular among the many taxpayers with simple mobile phones and with no access to the internet. By simply dialling *858# taxpayers have been able to access tax related services and information. Through facilitating access to ZRA services through the phone, 347,342 customers have been able to process their Taxpayer Identification Numbers (TPINs) as at 31st October 2021.

To ensure that being Customer- focused remains a bedrock of the services at ZRA, the Authority launched its Customer Experience plan. This underpins the importance attached to Customer Service delivery, by further ensuring that all staff at the Authority remain become more customer-focused in the dispensation of our mandate.

The Customer Experience plan was developed by ZRA in collaboration with GIZ.
The plan provides for a more optimal mix of channels that will help ZRA strike a balance between the objectives of improving customer service and increasing tax compliance at a low cost. The objective and the need for revenue bodies to cut costs; these objectives are not mutually exclusive.

Developing a sound and comprehensive plan is a win-win move as the plan considers mutual benefits of both the taxpayer and the revenue authority. The plan is anchored on redefining service delivery in tax administration, aimed at transforming the view of a taxpayer as a ‘customer’ and fostering excellent service delivery in the modern tax administration. It is undeniable that good and efficient customer service, is of course, a prerequisite to increase and sustain customer satisfaction.

Through our resolve to offer all taxpayers a good customer experience, we will continue celebrating taxpayers using various ways such as innovation that eases doing business with us.

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