Hanging on the Line

The latest HMRC contact centres survey report for the period 2013/14 has revealed that overall 80% of users reported the service as good or very good. Furthermore 89% said that their experience of calling the helpline was either in line with expectations (49%) or better than expected (40%). 

However, in some areas such as call answering HMRC still have some way to go.  Against an average call waiting time of four minutes, some 35% of callers reported waiting ten minutes or more before their call was answered.  Those calling business tax help lines fared slightly better, only having to wait an average of three minutes before their calls were answered. 

Key analysis of the findings within the report revealed two areas for further improvement, namely getting things right the first time and ease of getting in touch.  But whilst people may be prepared to hang on the line to sort their taxes out, they may not be so patient when it comes to business calls.  HMRC may have identified ease of getting in touch as a key area for improvement but it is also a key driver of the business/customer relationship.  We all lead busy lives and if our calls are not being answered then we may well switch our custom to another business.

When it comes to call answering the solution is very much in the hands of each individual business.  A sole trader may simply rely on switching calls between landline and mobile or may transfer calls to a virtual assistant service as and when required.

 Larger organisations have a greater number of options to play with.  Opting for a virtual switchboard brings organisations all of the benefits of a large telephone system but at a fraction of the cost.  Call answering can easily be programmed to flow along set pathways and if the business model changes or even if a member of the team is on holiday the system can be easily changed.  This means that businesses can divert calls to a single recipient, to a hunt group or even to a business unit depending on set parameters. 

Organisations with multiple phone numbers can even divert calls seamlessly to call handlers based on the number called whilst those with multiple offices can ‘follow the sun’ with calls being diverted according to the time of day.  With multiple options at their programmable fingertips businesses can ensure that callers never have to hang on the line again.  

Written by Alison