Customs Connect Issue no. 4 (August 2013)

Welcome to Customs Connect – your electronic newsletter that will provide you with the latest news and information on Customs Modernisation and related matters. We hope you enjoy the read and that you will find the information helpful. 

To read our newsletter below, click on each heading to expand the corresponding article.
 

Moves are afoot to follow in SARS’s tax office footsteps by having all calls to Customs offices routed to the Contact Centre. This is in line with SARS’s strategic objectives to improve our service to all taxpayers and traders.

An extensive process began last year to appoint a number of Customs staff members to the SARS Contact Centre in order to have additional trained Customs agents to handle Customs queries. At the moment there are only seven trained Customs agents in the Contact Centre, with very few calls being received.  In preparation for the migration of all Customs calls to the Contact Centre, an additional 18 Customs officers are being trained as Contact Centre agents, with more in the process of being recruited. 

This is the first step in a journey which will eventually see all calls to Customs offices routed to the Contact Centre – similar to what has already happened in the tax environment – in order to ensure end-to-end query resolution.

This migration of calls to the Contact Centre is expected to be piloted in the Western, Eastern and Northern Cape region before being implemented in the other regions. The pilot is earmarked for October 2013.

Calls will be resolved on a four-tier level:

  • an Interactive Voice Response (IVR) service with preset menus and prompts
  • then a general Contact Centre agent if the query is still not resolved
  • a Contact Centre Customs consultant
  • and finally to a Customs specialist

In fact, the Contact Centre promise is that “your call will always be answered” and your query, if not resolved during the call, will be actioned within a turnaround time of less than 24 hours. If calls are escalated to Tier 3 level and beyond, a consultant will phone you back to discuss and follow up on your query.

Most queries are about declaration status, licensing and registration – the majority of which can be handled by the first three tiers. However, specific queries such as rulings will be forwarded directly to head office specialists. The advantage with this new system is that these can now be monitored and audited, as opposed to in the past when calls were made directly to head office specialists and there was no way of tracking them.

Capacity has also been developed in the Contact Centre to support Customs clients between 08:00 and 22:00, 7 days a week.

Roadshows recently took place in the Western, Eastern and Northern Cape to discuss the migration plan with clients. Once dates are set for the migration of calls to the remaining offices, clients in other regions will also be informed well in advance.

Disclaimer: Customs Connect is not meant to delve into the precise technical and legal detail associated with Customs. It should, therefore, not be used as a legal reference.

Should you require any additional information, you may:

Last Updated: 11/11/2013 10:04 AM     print this page
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