ITA: HMRC’s Service Improvement Weapon

Improving Services Jun 08, 2016 No Comments

The HMRC uses what they call its Intelligent Telephony Automation or ITA to improve the user’s experience in their services. This automated HMRC phone number and telephony learns from its users and can be updated from feedback. The HMRC or HM Revenue and Customs are Great Britain’s main government agency concerned with tax collections.

value-added-tax-novacon-bulgariaDuring ITA’s enhancement two years ago, the agency discovered that the key words embedded in the system must tie in with what the users use and understand. More than the key word recognition is the understanding of the telephony system for process improvement and effectiveness. What is expected that in improving the recognition, the user will get through and secure a better tax adviser.


User Groups

HMRC has been coordinating with various user groups to identify which key words are not being recognized by the system and changing them appropriately. By using a common vocabulary there wouldn’t be miscommunication involved nor misunderstanding from either ends of the line.

For example, the suggestion from one user group to revert back to the push button menu has been vetoed by HMRC. The revenue body likewise turns down the combination of using both speech recognition and push button. According to HMRC, the ITA will not be including any push button options. Common feedback from other users is that push button is a throwback that they’d rather not deal with again at all. It is overwhelmingly unpopular. The suggestion to override the ITA to get straight into a person will not be offered in the near future too.


Shortened Waiting Times

The use of ITA has effectively shortened the average length of call. This has translated to an increase in the call handling capacity of the agency. HMRC notes that this increase in capacity is a marked improvement they wouldn’t want to lose. HMRC also singled out that the ITA speech recognition capability is not being used on agent-dedicated lines.

Although the agency has considered widening the breadth of agent dedicated lines to get excellent levels of service, this may make the agency run in too thin on the rest of the clients they serve. They said that extending the service will have a domino effect on other customers thus, the impact must be well studied and considered.Remove featured image

Cartoon_Character-48The reason for excluding the agent lines is due to the frustration of the agents that the ITA notifies the customers to go online instead. The feedback mentions that if someone tries to find out what they want to do online, they are prodded to phone a call only to be advised to go online instead. This is being addressed by the tax agency.


Agent Workshop

What they have done so far is to conduct a workshop to solicit feedback from agents. Concerns have been gathered and discussed to create an understanding of the problems experienced when contacting HMRC via telephone. The information will become part of the next waves of process and technology improvements for ITA.

The improvement goal of HMRC as regards calls being answered within five minutes stand at 90%. It is currently at 80% right now. They keep on mentioning that it is not satisfied with the current metrics. With that in mind, it will keep the 80% to remain consistent so that the service the customers get day in and out will remain for the most part of the year.

The key they said is that over the last two years, there were moment of really good service level, at 90% of calls managed in five minutes. This was in the second half of both years. The aim to do this across the entire year is the new goal so that spread over the 12 months, the service level will be maintained at a consistent 80% in any given month.

Louis Weir