HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) gave an important insight into their customer service expectations recently.
As anyone who’s had to call HMRC will know, they don’t answer the phone very quickly. A recent review of their Facebook page showed that, rather than being that helpful, it is actually a place for individuals to vent their anger at the length of time they are kept waiting on the phone. In many instances, the calls end with the system simply cutting them off, which must be extremely dispiriting and frustrating.
Therefore, the recent announcement by HMRC must be quite welcome. They have announced in this press release that they are going to improve customer service by allocating £45 million. This will pay for an extra 3,000 employees to join customer service teams.
This is obviously good news.
However, the same press release gave more information about their approach to customer service.
HMRC receives more than 60 million calls a year, peaking around key deadlines such as 31 January for Self Assessment, and 31 July for tax credits renewals.
The statistics show that while 73 per cent of calls were answered last year, service standards were inconsistent across the year, with some months falling well short of HMRC’s 80 per cent target. The figures also show that in some months as many as one in five customers heard a busy tone and could not join a phone queue.
I am unsure which is the more alarming statistic:
- That HMRC only answered 73% of calls – in other words, they didn’t answer 27%, or 16.2 million calls, or
- That they have a target of 80% – or to put it another way, if they don’t answer 12 million calls, they will have met their target and considered their customer service a success.
If you have a business, surely your target for answering phone calls would be 100%? Particularly if you make customers wait for a long time.