Customer Service Automation

HMRC Shows the Importance of Multichannel Customer Service

By Chris Crombie 13 May 2019

When do customers need to speak to you and when can they use other channels?

It’s a tricky question for any organisation, but especially for HMRC – which recently came under fire for its channel strategy.

Phone is popular – but wait times are excessive

At present, people who want to contact the Adjudicator’s Office – which reviews complaints against HMRC advice, processes and staff – can only do so by phone, post or fax.

Phone is the most popular, but HMRC has long been criticised for its extended call wait times. On average, people are on hold for approximately 11 minutes (although this can be longer at peak times). Media have also reported complaints of people being cut off by the automated voice system. This puts them in a continuous, frustrating cycle of calling and waiting.

Why not email?

Last month, Nicky Morgan MP, who chairs the Treasury select committee, wrote to HMRC to “express the committee’s astonishment that the public are unable to contact the Adjudicator’s Office by email.”

The deputy CEO of HMRC responded with a promise to have a dedicated email address in place by the autumn.

It’s about customer choice…

Commenting on the issue, Nicky Morgan said that “public-facing services simply have to be digitally accessible these days.”

And this is true because people use different channels for different purposes and at different times. The stats back this up. Recent Engage Hub research found that 61% of people change how they contact an organisation depending on their situation.

Thus, the key to success is to offer choice. That way people can select what’s best for their specific situation at that moment – and escalate as required.

…And an integrated approach

Because most consumers are channel agnostic, enquiries can span multiple channels before resolution. This means you need to integrate your data to deliver a seamless experience.

Phone is still the preferred channel for customer service – 74% of consumers will call at some point. Your interactive voice response technology (IVR) therefore needs access to your other channels – like email, SMS, web forms and chatbots – so that prior interactions are factored into call handling. The right system will be able to anticipate what someone is calling about and direct them proactively.

Similarly, your chatbot needs access to transaction history, call logs and email history to answer relevant questions.

It’s a next-gen approach that combines your data across marketing, sales and customer service. And it reduces wait times, makes it easy for people to self-serve where appropriate, and empowers agents with the information they need to help.

With the right technology, it’s easy to deliver a multichannel customer service strategy

Are you worried about being behind the curve like HMRC?

If you’re finding gaps in your customer experience – or seeing complaints and call queue times rise – it’s time to think about optimising how you use different channels.

This guide is an excellent place to start.

It gives an evidence-based overview of the connected customer experience, and it explains the innovations that can help you exceed expectations efficiently and profitably across every channel.

See other posts by Chris Crombie

Senior Product Owner

As a Senior Product Owner, Chris is responsible for ensuring the business identifies and understands customer needs and priorities. He defines the road-map and growth opportunities for Voice and Synapse, overseeing implementations whilst keeping all developments in line with the product vision. With over 15 years’ experience working within the customer engagement space, Chris is perfectly placed to consult and design innovative services for our customers.

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