Feeds

NAO tells HMRC: Pick up, dammit

Hello? Your telephone service sucks

Bridging the IT gap between rising business demands and ageing tools

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.

The smart choice: opportunity from uncertainty

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
Nadella: Apps must run on ALL WINDOWS – PCs, slabs and mobes
Phone egg, meet desktop chicken - your mother
White? Male? You work in tech? Let us guess ... Twitter? We KNEW it!
Grim diversity numbers dumped alongside Facebook earnings
HP, Microsoft prove it again: Big Business doesn't create jobs
SMEs get lip service - what they need is dinner at the Club
ITC: Seagate and LSI can infringe Realtek patents because Realtek isn't in the US
Land of the (get off scot) free, when it's a foreign owner
Dude, you're getting a Dell – with BITCOIN: IT giant slurps cryptocash
1. Buy PC with Bitcoin. 2. Mine more coins. 3. Goto step 1
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
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
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.
Reducing security risks from open source software
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.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.