The Social Security Advisory Committee (SSAC) has published an update report into Telephony in DWP and HMRC.
Here are a few choice cuts from the report:
Call- backs should be offered by DWP and HMRC contact centre staff when a customer is calling from a mobile phone (and will be charged for that call). Call -backs should be offered systematically and proactively at the beginning of any customer phone call made from a mobile phone.Well then, let's see how things progress!
The information about the cost of calling HRMC should be improved significantly so that customers are able to make some judgment about the likely cost of calling HMRC using different types of phones. HMRC shoul d aim for a standard statement about call costs that can be used across a variety of formats and ensure that an automated message about call costs appears at the beginning of every customer contact.
The DWP offered 42 different 0800 numbers (in 2014), whereas HMRC only offer a handful (for example, those encouraging the public to inform on those who might be committing fraud or in the case of flooding).
HMRC have told us that the cost of moving to 0800 numbers for them would be in the region of £3- 4 million annually . They have taken a judgement that a better and more long- term solution would be to invest in its staff who deal with the incoming calls, ensuring that they are better equipped to deal with often complex queries from customers quickly, efficiently and reducing the need for follow -up calls. This could potentially reduce both the duration of the call and waiting times.
HMRC’s target of answering calls within 5 minutes is woefully inadequate and unambitious. The industry benchmark is to answer 80 per cent of calls in 20 seconds and some organisations aim to answer 90 per cent in 10 seconds.
Overall HMRC Contact Centre performance deteriorated significantly in 2014- 15 as compared with 2013- 14. The percentage of attempted calls “handled” (answered) by their Contact Centres fell to just 68 per cent in the final quarter of 2014- 15. Similarly, records maintained to show progress against the percentage of calls answered within 5 minutes (the “5 minutes 80 per cent target” set as a response to PAC ’s report ) showed a significant decline as compared with 2013- 14.
We recommend that a call -back system be reviewed as a short -term aid for customers ringing HMRC together with an information system that advises customers of potential wait times.
Tax does have to be taxing.
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