Feeds

NAO tells HMRC: Pick up, dammit

Hello? Your telephone service sucks

The Power of One Infographic

The National Audit Office has told HM Revenue and Customs it has to make more improvements to its telephone services.

Its new report on the department's performance points to the need to encourage people to call outside of peak hours and to make more use of the department's website.

HM Revenue and Customs: Handling telephone enquiries, published on 15 January, says that HMRC's customer contact directorate answered only 57 per cent of the 103 million attempted calls in 2008-09. This compares with 71 per cent in the year before and an industry benchmark of more than 90 per cent.

In the first half of 2009-10 the percentage of calls answered rose to 73 per cent, and the directorate has introduced a change programme with the aim of answering 90 per cent of calls and at about 30 per cent less cost by March 2012.

Estimates by the NAO suggest this could be achieved if the department halved the 35 per cent of contacts that the department believes are avoidable. But its findings reveal that HMRC is not able to ensure efficiencies and benefits are being realised and gauge progress towards its goals.

"The department does not have sufficient oversight of the overall planned costs, benefits and interdependencies of the various channel migration programmes it has under way to move customers to using the method of contact that most effectively meets their needs, at the lowest cost to themselves and the department," says the document.

Call volumes vary greatly throughout the year, ranging from four million to 17 million per month in 2008-09, but the department's staffing levels do not fluctuate in line with this. Consequently call handling performance also varied throughout the year, with 33 per cent of answered during the tax credits renewals peak in July and 85 per cent answered in December.

The report recommends that HMRC should consider outsourcing and part-year permanent contracts, the adoption of automated information to encourage off-peak calling, and efforts to increase the department's website.

Amyas Morse, head of the National Audit Office, said: "HMRC seems to be going in the right direction seeking strategic savings by reducing face to face interaction where the job can be done by telephone or online.

"However, this may not be much comfort if yours was one of the 43 per cent of calls which did not get an answer in 2008-09. HMRC needs to get telephone service standards up significantly if the transition to technology-enabled working is to have taxpayer support and deliver value for money."

This article was originally published at Kable.

Kable's GC weekly is a free email newsletter covering the latest news and analysis of public sector technology. To register click here.

Mobile application security vulnerability report

More from The Register

next story
BBC goes offline in MASSIVE COCKUP: Stephen Fry partly muzzled
Auntie tight-lipped as major outage rolls on
iPad? More like iFAD: We reveal why Apple fell into IBM's arms
But never fear fanbois, you're still lapping up iPhones, Macs
Sonos AXES support for Apple's iOS4 and 5
Want to use your iThing? You can't - it's too old
Stick a 4K in them: Super high-res TVs are DONE
4,000 pixels is niche now... Don't say we didn't warn you
Philip K Dick 'Nazi alternate reality' story to be made into TV series
Amazon Studios, Ridley Scott firm to produce The Man in the High Castle
There's NOTHING on TV in Europe – American video DOMINATES
Even France's mega subsidies don't stop US content onslaught
You! Pirate! Stop pirating, or we shall admonish you politely. Repeatedly, if necessary
And we shall go about telling people you smell. No, not really
Too many IT conferences to cover? MICROSOFT to the RESCUE!
Yet more word of cuts emerges from Redmond
Joe Average isn't worth $10 a year to Mark Zuckerberg
The Social Network deflates the PC resurgence with mobile-only usage prediction
prev story

Whitepapers

Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Application security programs and practises
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Securing Web Applications Made Simple and Scalable
Learn how automated security testing can provide a simple and scalable way to protect your web applications.