2.25.102  IRS.gov Website Help Desk Process

Manual Transmittal

June 4, 2012

Purpose

(1) This transmits revised IRM 2.25.102, Web Services, IRS.gov Website Help Desk Process

Material Changes

(1) This IRM has been reorganized. Various editorial changes have been made throughout the IRM for clarification purposes.

(2) The title of this subsection has changed from Responding to IRS.gov Helpdesk Inquiries to IRS.gov Website Help Desk Process

Effect on Other Documents

IRM 2.25.102, dated 08-25-2006 is superseded by the publishing of this IRM.

Audience

Webmasters, Systems Administrators, Help Desk Personnel, and subject matter experts in all Operating Divisions and Functions.

Effective Date

(06-04-2012)

Mike Silvia
Director, Online Experience and Operations Management Division, Office of Online Services

2.25.102.1  (06-04-2012)
Purpose

  1. The purpose of this IRM is to provide instructions for responding to IRS.gov Website Help Desk inquiries received from users of the IRS.gov website.

    Note:

    The IRS.gov website is the primary website for the IRS. It contains content from a variety of communities, for example, individual and business taxpayers, tax professionals, charities and non-profit entities.

  2. This IRM and the referenced documents are provided to all Internal Revenue Service (IRS) employees and contractors responsible for the IRS.gov Website Help Desk processes, escalations and compliance.

2.25.102.2  (06-04-2012)
Contact Information

  1. The IRS.gov Website Help Desk contact information is located on the following landing pages:

    1. Help, (http//www.irs.gov/help/index.html), under the links Send Us a Comment About the Website and Help Using the IRS.gov Website.

    2. How to Contact the IRS, (http://www.irs.gov/contact/index.html), under the links Contact the IRS.gov Website Helpdesk and Send Us a Comment About the Website.

  2. Contact information for specific individuals is not posted on the IRS.gov website or provided to anyone contacting the IRS.gov Website Help Desk.

  3. IRS employees and contractors requiring additional guidance or assistance are to contact Online Experience and Operations Management Division's (OEOM) comments mailbox.

2.25.102.3  (06-04-2012)
Responsibilities

  1. Program oversight of the IRS.gov website and the IRS.gov Website Help Desk is managed by the Online Experience and Operations Management Division.

  2. Content on IRS.gov is owned and managed by the various Business Operating Divisions (BODs) and Functional Units (FUs) within IRS.

  3. Each BOD and FU is assigned a Point of Contact (POC) to address problems, questions or comments regarding their assigned content topics in the IRS.gov Website Help Desk Escalation Portal and content areas on the IRS.gov website.

  4. Operational functions for the IRS.gov Website Help Desk and the IRS.gov website are out-sourced to contractor support.

    Note:

    Web access for contractor support is limited to the IRS.gov website.

  5. IRS.gov Website Help Desk will:

    1. review/analyze all incoming inquiries

    2. provide assistance with navigating to content on the IRS.gov website

    3. record and maintain the content and outcome of all incoming inquiries

    4. ensure all resolved inquiries and escalations are closed

    5. escalate inquiries to the appropriate IRS POC for action

    6. troubleshoot technical issues regarding the website

2.25.102.4  (06-04-2012)
IRS.gov Website Help Desk Documents

  1. The IRS.gov Website Help Desk Escalation Matrix lists the approved content topics and POC information.

  2. The IRS.gov Website Help Desk Escalation Permissions Change Request Form documents POC account status and assigned content topic(s) for input into the Escalation Portal.

  3. The IRS.gov Website Help Desk Escalation Portal User Guide provides instructions for processing escalations and using the Escalation Portal.

    Note:

    The IRS.gov Website Help Desk documents are distributed to Escalation Portal users for Official Use Only.

2.25.102.5  (06-04-2012)
Content Topics

  1. Similar to the IRS.gov website, the Escalation Portal is organized by content topics (for example, e-file, Free File, tax professionals, etc.) so incoming inquiries are easily assigned to the content POC.

  2. Content topics are added to or removed from the Escalation Portal when necessary and approved by the POC and Online Experience and Operations Management Division.

2.25.102.6  (06-04-2012)
Canned Responses

  1. The IRS.gov Website Help Desk maintains a repository of canned (standard) responses to address the following:

    1. temporary and long-term application issues

    2. frequently asked questions concerning website content and navigation issues

    3. system outages

    4. recurring problems

  2. All canned responses are approved by the content area POC and submitted to Online Experience and Operations Management Division for processing and distribution to the IRS.gov Website Help Desk.

    Note:

    When possible, content should be added to the IRS.gov website instead of creating a canned response.

2.25.102.7  (06-04-2012)
Canned Response Recertification

  1. The Online Experience and Operations Management Division conducts an annual recertification of all canned responses.

  2. During the recertification process, each content POC will review their canned responses to determine if they are valid or should be updated or archived.

2.25.102.8  (06-04-2012)
Inquiries

  1. An inquiry is an incoming question, problem or comment about the IRS.gov website and the website content received at the IRS.gov Website Help Desk. Inquiries are received via e-mail, phone call, or chat.

  2. Most inquiries are reviewed within 24 business hours after receipt at the IRS.gov Website Help Desk.

  3. Special inquiries are incoming questions, problems or comments that require additional processing or investigation. The following types of inquiries are covered under this category:

    1. tax-related

    2. duplicate

    3. suspicious

    4. non-English

    5. non-web related

2.25.102.8.1  (06-04-2012)
Tax-Related Inquiries

  1. Inquiries requiring interpretation of tax laws, procedures or specific account information are considered tax-related inquiries.

  2. All tax-related inquiries received at the IRS.gov Website Help Desk are referred to the IRS toll-free telephone help lines.

2.25.102.8.2  (06-04-2012)
Duplicate Inquiries

  1. Duplicate inquiries are multiple inquiries received concerning the same issues.

  2. The Escalation Specialist forwards duplicate inquiries to the POC as many times as they are received to:

    1. emphasize the significance and urgency of the issue

    2. ensure that the appropriate action is taken for each

    3. provide each website user the appropriate response

2.25.102.8.3  (06-04-2012)
Suspicious Inquiries

  1. Inquiries that appear to be threatening or potentially threatening are escalated to Treasury Inspector General for Tax Administration (TIGTA) for the appropriate action.

  2. Inquiries that appear to be phishing scams are escalated to the IRS Computer Security Incident Response Center (CSIRC).

  3. All suspicious inquiries are sent to the Online Experience and Operations Management Division's comments mailbox as an For Your Information (FYI) only.

2.25.102.8.4  (06-04-2012)
Non-English Inquiries

  1. Spanish inquiries are the only non-English inquiries processed at the IRS.gov Website Help Desk.

  2. Inquiries in other foreign languages are either addressed in English or Spanish or referred to the toll-free tax assistance line.

2.25.102.8.4.1  (06-04-2012)
Non-English Language Translation Process

  1. Spanish inquiries are routed to the IRS.gov Bilingual Customer Service Representative (CSR) to review the repository of canned responses for an appropriate response.

  2. If a Spanish canned response does exist, it is added as the response to the inquiry and sent to the website user.

  3. If a Spanish canned response does not exist and the information is not found on the IRS.gov website, the inquiry is referred to the toll-free tax assistance line.

2.25.102.8.5  (06-04-2012)
Non-Web Related Inquiries

  1. Non-web related inquiries are general comments and questions not related to content posted on the IRS.gov website.

  2. The inquiries can include, but are not limited to, IRS policies, procedures, and customer satisfaction comments.

  3. All non-web related inquiries are escalated to the Online Experience and Operations Management Division's comments mailbox for resolution.

2.25.102.9  (06-04-2012)
Processing an Inquiry

  1. Incoming inquiries are checked against previously addressed issues that are maintained in a repository of known issues, Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) and canned responses.

    1. If an inquiry is listed in the repository, the CSR responds by providing the appropriate information listed in the repository.

    2. If the inquiry is not listed in the repository and can't be resolved by the CSR, the CSR will forward the inquiry through the escalation process to the appropriate POC for resolution.

  2. If a website user submits an inquiry containing a problem, the CSR and/or POC will attempt to duplicate the problem. If the problem cannot be duplicated, additional information is requested from the website user.

2.25.102.10  (06-04-2012)
IRS.gov Website Help Desk Tracking Identification Number

  1. The Escalation Portal automatically assigns all escalations an IRS.gov Website Help Desk Tracking Identification Number.

  2. An example and explanation of a Tracking Identification Number is AF0301040004.

    1. AF represents Hinduja Global Solutions Limited (HGS), the contractor responsible for IRS.gov operations.

    2. 030104 indicates the date, March 1, 2004.

    3. The digit(s) following the date represent the sequential number assigned by the Help Desk.

  3. "AF" is used to track the escalations and related responses. It will always appear in the subject line of the email when an inquiry is escalated to the POC.

2.25.102.11  (06-04-2012)
Processing an Escalation

  1. An escalation is an inquiry that has to be escalated to a content POC when the CSR cannot resolve the inquiry with the information in the canned response repository or on the IRS.gov website.

  2. The CSR copies the details of an inquiry into the Escalation Portal's queue for processing by the Escalation Specialist.

  3. Before the content POC receives an escalation, the Escalation Specialist verifies whether the reported issue still exists.

    1. If the issue still exists, the Escalation Specialist assigns the escalation to the content POC.

    2. If the issue no longer exists, the Escalation Specialist responds to the website user with the resolution.

  4. In addition to addressing the website user's issue, a response to an escalation can also include the following:

    1. request for additional time or information

    2. process as a misrouted escalation

    3. determine a response is not needed

    4. respond directly to the website user

      Note:

      Comments are needed to explain why a response to the website user's issue is not provided.

  5. Escalations do not include Sensitive but Unclassified (SBU) data because of the risk of unauthorized disclosure and misuse. SBU contains personally identifiable information (PII) and includes the following:

    1. taxpayer data

    2. Privacy Act protected information

    3. some law enforcement information

    4. information protected by statute or regulation

  6. All escalations are assigned an escalation type and a priority status.

2.25.102.11.1  (06-04-2012)
Types of Escalations

  1. The type of escalation is determined by the IRS.gov Website Help Desk Escalation Specialist based on the content of the escalation. The escalation types are categorized as:

    1. For Your Information Escalation

    2. Response Required Escalation

2.25.102.11.1.1  (06-04-2012)
For Your Information Escalations

  1. For Your Information (FYI) Escalations are comments or suggestions about the IRS.gov website or IRS, including employees and programs offered by the IRS.

  2. Although FYI escalations generally do not require a response, the content POC can decide whether or not a response is needed.

2.25.102.11.1.2  (06-04-2012)
Response Required Escalation

  1. Response Required Escalations are questions or problems that the content POC must resolve.

  2. Escalations requiring a response include:

    1. web content problems, such as broken links, missing links, misdirected links, inaccurate information and spelling errors

    2. questions about programs or content on the IRS.gov website

    3. time sensitive issues

    4. application issues

    5. fill-in forms

    6. multiple failed attempts to contact the IRS

    7. threats to contact Congress, an attorney or the media

    8. requests to contact an IRS employee or manager

2.25.102.11.2  (06-04-2012)
Escalation Priority Status

  1. The priority status is determined by the IRS.gov Website Help Desk Escalation Specialist based on the severity of the issue.

  2. The priority status, high and normal, are used to determine the timeframe to responding to an escalation.

2.25.102.11.2.1  (06-04-2012)
High Priority Status

  1. When an escalation is assigned a high priority, the POC has three (3) business days to process and close the escalation in the Escalation Portal.

  2. The types of Response Required Escalations assigned a high priority are:

    • application issues

    • web content issues, such as broken links, missing links, misdirected links, and inaccurate information

    • spelling errors

    • multiple failed attempts to contact IRS

    • threats of physical or verbal harm

    • threats to contact Congress, an attorney, or the media

    • time sensitive issues

2.25.102.11.2.2  (06-04-2012)
Normal Priority Status

  1. When an escalation is assigned a normal priority, the POC has five (5) business days to process and close the escalation in the Escalation Portal.

  2. The types of Response Required escalations assigned a normal priority are:

    1. fill-in form questions

    2. attempted contacts to find other IRS employees and programs

    3. questions about programs

2.25.102.12  (06-04-2012)
Reminder Notices

  1. The Escalation Portal will send a Reminder Notice to the POC if a response is not received within the required timeframe or additional time is not requested.

  2. The Reminder Notice is generated based on the date the escalation is assigned.

  3. The Reminder Notice will explain the steps the POC must take to advise the Help Desk of the status of an escalation.

  4. Reminder Notices are not issued if comments are entered in the Escalation Portal explaining the status of the escalation or to request additional time for processing the escalation.

2.25.102.13  (06-04-2012)
Deferral Notices

  1. If the POC has not responded to the Reminder Notice, the Escalation Specialist will send a Deferral Notice.

  2. The Deferral Notice explains the escalation is being:

    1. deferred to the Online Experience and Operations Management Division's comments mailbox if a response is not received by close of business (COB)

    2. placed in "Deferred" status at the COB

  3. Online Experience and Operations Management Division will follow-up with the POC for all inquiries in "Deferred" status to determine if the inquiry:

    1. needs to be reassigned

    2. requires additional time for resolution

    3. needs to be closed

  4. The POC's management is contacted for assistance when the POC cannot provide the needed resolution.

2.25.102.14  (06-04-2012)
Escalation Reports

  1. The IRS.gov Website Help Desk Escalation Log report is distributed to the content POCs by COB each Tuesday with the details of all escalations assigned to their content areas through Friday of the previous week.

  2. The content POCs must review the reports to ensure their assigned escalations are responded to in a timely manner and the issues identified on the IRS.gov website are resolved.

  3. The Escalation Report is created in an Excel spreadsheet with the following worksheets:

    1. Explanation of Column Headings

    2. Cum. Escalations Report XXXX

    3. Unresolved Escalations for XXXX

      Note:

      XXXX represents the year the report is generated.


More Internal Revenue Manual