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|Editorial: HMRC Contact Centres - It's Not Just About Speed|
HMRC Contact Centres - It's Not Just About Speed
Mark McLaughlin casts a critical eye over HMRC's recent promise to increase call centre resources.
I was pleased to see the recent announcement by Lin Homer, HMRC's Chief Executive, that an additional £9 million is being invested this year in recruiting up to 1,000 additional contact centre staff, with a further £25 million being spent during 2013/14, with a view to bringing HMRC contact centres up to speed two years earlier than originally planned.
A couple of things struck me about the HMRC News Release of Lin Homer's announcement. The first was her comment: "The feedback we get is that the quality of the advice we give when people get through is good". I must confess that I very rarely use HMRC contact centres, but I have colleagues that do. The feedback and anecdotal evidence that I have received suggests that the level of technical knowledge of some contact centre staff leaves something to be desired. That is by no means a reflection on those staff, but on the quality of training and technical support provided to them by HMRC.
Personally, if faced with a choice between speed or accuracy in my dealings with HMRC, I would go for accuracy every time.
The second point to note was Lon Homer's admission that: “I am reprioritising our resources to make this additional investment possible, without impacting our other core customer services." This sounds to me like HMRC will be making cutbacks elsewhere to fund these additional contact centre staff. Given my earlier comment about accuracy over speed, one can only hope that "reprioritising our resources" doesn't mean a reduction in HMRC's education and training budget!
The recruitment of additional HMRC contact centre staff is clearly a step in the right direction, and should be welcomed as such. However, my biggest hope is that when taxpayers and agents get through to HMRC more quickly in the future, the help that they are looking for is delivered fully and accurately.
The above News Release can be dowloaded from HMRC's website: Lin Homer Announces Up to £34 Million Investment to Achieve HMRC Call Targets Two Years Early
About The Author
Mark McLaughlin is TaxationWeb's Co-Founder, Director and Technical Editor. He is a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Taxation and a member of the Association of Taxation Technicians and the Society of Trust and Estate Practitioners. He lectures on tax subjects, is co-author of Tottel's IHT Annual and Ray & McLaughlin's IHT Planning, and Editor of Tottel's Tax Planning and Annual series. Mark's work has also been published in Taxation, Tax Adviser, Tolley's Practical Tax, Tax Journal and Simon's Weekly Tax Intelligence.
Since January 1998, Mark has been a consultant in his own tax practice, Mark McLaughlin Associates, which provides tax consultancy and support services to professional firms. He publishes a regular 'Tax Update' e-Newsletter for clients and other professional firms. To receive future copies, contact Mark via his website.
Article Added Sunday, 12 August 2012 | 608 Hits