Report suggests significant customer service improvements at HMRC

HM Revenue & Customs (HMRC) handled 91.7 per cent of all customer telephone calls during 2016/17 – way above its self-set target of 85 per cent, a new report reveals.

The tax authority’s Annual Report and Accounts 2016/17 appears to suggest that customer service standards at HMRC are on the rise – despite widespread criticism earlier this year that standards were slipping.

Previously, an internal report published in February had revealed that customer satisfaction with HMRC had fallen sharply in January this year.

Many unhappy self-assessment taxpayers were left waiting on the line during HMRC’s busiest time of the year, after its telephone lines “descended into chaos” due to a “technology failure.”

Some were left waiting on the line for hours.

Since then, however, the tax authority’s latest internal report – which was published earlier this week – reveals significant improvements.

The report claims that, on average in 2016/17, HMRC’s typical speed for answering a customer call was just three minutes and 54 seconds – almost half its Government-set target figure of six minutes.

The Revenue also managed to turn around 81 per cent of all post within 15 working days, the report claims.

Edward Troup, executive chair and permanent secretary at HMRC, said: “Our ability to collect the money required to fund the UK’s public services is, of course, the ultimate yardstick by which we will be measured, but the public rightly judge us on the quality of service we provide to the overwhelming majority of people in the UK who are honest and pay the right amount of tax on time.

“Our continued focus on giving our customers the service level they deserve is paying dividends.

“There are now quick and simple online tools to allow people to deal with their taxes or tax credits anywhere, anytime and the best phone service in years for those wanting to call us,” he said.

The comments come shortly after HMRC announced it had hired an additional 800 call centre operatives to speed up its telephone helplines.

HMRC’s full 2016/17 report can be accessed here.