A new HMRC-commissioned report offers a positive outlook on the tax authority’s complaints process, offering a ray of sunlight for its oft-maligned customer service.
The report, titled Drivers of customer complaints, provides insight into the customer experience of making a complaint to HMRC. Not the nature of the complaints, that is, but simply the experience of making them.
HMRC commissioned Ipsos MORI to complete the qualitative research, with the company undertaking 45 in-depth interviews with a mix of PAYE and Self Assessment (SA) ‘customers’ included.
Overall, the report noted that HMRC’s complaints process was viewed positively overall and “often marked a step-change in the customer experience which had a positive effect on customers’ emotions”.
It’s a rare passing grade for HMRC’s customer service. Last year’s annual report found that HMRC failed to answer four million telephone calls. When the call was answered, 14% of calls took over 10 minutes to answer and then an additional four minutes getting through to a real person.
The performance prompted one AccountingWEB columnist to wonder: “Is HMRC fit for purpose?” The PAC joined the pile on late last year, criticising HMRC for not counting the minutes spent listening to options -- press one for x, two for y, etc. -- in its call time figures.
A positive reading of this new report would be that HMRC is making some progress. The report also noted two main motivations for customer complaints: an “active choice” or as a “means to an end”.
“When customers made an active choice to complain they were usually dissatisfied with the HMRC service received and wanted to make a complaint to let this be known,” the report reads.
“Where the complaint was made as a means to an end, customers were trying to resolve their issue and had exhausted all other options available to them. Making a complaint was felt to be a logical next step in the customer journey as they sought to understand how or why the initial issue had occurred or they were looking for a practical outcome, such as a change in tax code or reimbursement.”
One quirk around the report is the date listed on the report’s cover. It reads “July 2018”, but has only been released now. According to an HMRC spokesperson, this is not sinister and merely relates to the date when research compilation happened.
About Francois Badenhorst
I'm AccountingWEB's business editor. Feel free to get in touch with comments, tips, scoops or irreverent banter.