Jim Harra's 'Walter Mitty' summary of HMRC's customer service performance is copied below. What planet does he come from?....since when have 9 month long post delays equalled decent service?....and don't get me started on chat bots. I think Harra and the MPs asking the questions would benefit from a month long secondment at the coal face to fully appreciate the real world. If they dropped all the time and resouces they are throwing at MTD (aka lets forget about tax revenue and just issue gazzillions of late filing penalties aka NRCGT revisited) and got staff answering phones/post performance levels might actually improve.
Customer service “back to normal”
The agency is increasing its compliance numbers, although it takes on average 18 months to fully train up an inspector, and it said the full benefit would not become apparent for at least two years.
It also said it will continue to nudge people away from phone-calls and letters when trying to contact the agency, instead directing them towards the HMRC website and chat bots.
Despite constant criticism of the agency’s customer service from the industry throughout the pandemic, as highlighted frequently by the AccountingWEB community, HMRC bosses said normal service has resumed.
“We are on track to deliver pre-pandemic levels of service,” said Angela MacDonald, deputy chief executive and second permanent secretary, HMRC. “Our aim is to get an on-target position, with about two million items. It sounds enormous, but we get about 1.8m pieces of post every month.”
MacDonald admitted that HMRC’s online guides were in need of improvement, and said it was often a case that if a question isn’t phrased exactly right, it will not be answered.
“We’ve invested in more innovative technology to find out what you want to know, and the artificial assistant will offer you the guidance back,” she said. “We’re at the early stages of that bot-type process.”
Harra repeated a statement he had made earlier in the year that HMRC’s “not resourced to give brilliant service, but decent customer service.”
“We have call handling up to 85%, so one in five people has to call back as their call isn’t picked up the first time. 100% would be a brilliant service, I do not have the resources to do that.
“From our customer scores we are getting a high level of satisfaction, particularly with the digital services. I'm not funded to be on a track to deliver a brilliant service.”
Despite its apparent success with customers, HMRC has the lowest staff engagement in Whitehall and still suffers from turnover. Harra said morale had improved under his watch, but accepted that current engagement levels were not good enough.
And I haven't forgotten the telephone number in their guidance that nobody answered and which they took months to correct even when they realised their guide was out of date.