HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has today announced it is taking steps to improve customer service, including hiring staff for outside hours, the BBC has reported.
Speaking in front of the Commons Treasury Committee today, Lin Homer, chief executive of HMRC, apologised for the tax authority’s poor track record of dealing with customer phone calls. She also announced that a new telephoney system had been introduced that allowed phone calls to be diverted into any call centre, meaning that up to 20,000 staff were on hand to answer queries at any one time.
But the BBC also reported that Conservative MP Mark Garnier said if HMRC was a commercial service it would have gone bust. He called its 76 per cent rate of answering calls during July and September “completely unacceptable”, pointing out that this still left 24 per cent of calls unanswered.
A HMRC spokesperson said: “We have recognised that our customer service has not been good enough, and have taken major steps to improve including by recruiting 3,000 new staff into customer service roles, available outside normal office hours when many of our customers choose to call us. These improvements have started to make a difference. This month, we have answered more than 80 per cent of calls, and average queue times are now around 10 minutes.”
Just last week, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) released a report criticising several aspects of HMRC’s behaviour, including describing its customer service as so bad that it could have “an adverse impact on the collection of tax revenues”.