HMRC’s new telephone service – intelligent or not?

HMRC has recently introduced a new way of handling calls on some of its helplines.  

The new system is called Intelligent Telephony Automation or ITA. HMRC say that this new technology will help improve the handling of calls. Instead of being offered different push button options, the system will apparently recognise and react to what the caller says.  

HMRC is also automating elements of the security process, and based on the information that the caller provides the system, the HMRC adviser will know why they are calling and whether or not they have passed security. HMRC is hoping that this will speed up the time that advisers spend with callers; by allowing them to focus on the issue, the call should be completed more quickly. 

This new ITA system will prompt callers to say a few words to describe the reason for their call. It is designed to recognise key words or phrases such as Maternity/RTI/P45 and can forward the call onto the correct adviser or ask further questions if required. HMRC says the system has been widely tested with all accents from all over the UK.  

Have you experienced HMRC’s Intelligent Telephony Automation system? How effectively was your call handled? Do you believe ITA is a quicker way of resolving a query with HMRC by telephone? 

Post a comment below to share your experiences, good or bad. 

Other useful ICAEW links:

TAXtools 1 – Useful HMRC Contact Information

HMRC Service Issues Initiative – update October 2013 

HMRC links:

Research Report – Intelligent Telephony Automation (ITA) Customer Testing

  • I called the child tax credits line and was offered options relating to tax returns and other documents totally unrelated to child tax credits. It seems to be a generic system which has not been focused to the particular department which is being called.

    Of course it also couldn't understand what I wanted and after 5 minutes of messing around, a human picked up.
  • I have just read the report in your link. 13% of individuals in the pilot said they would hang up and 11% said they would ask for an adviser. This means that a quarter of callers are not using the system as it was designed! Why was it still pushed through?
  • Totally useless - Just when you think that HMRC's services can't get any worse they go and do it!
  • Terribly frustrating - it couldn't grasp the NINO I gave - my office colleagues confirmed that I was speaking very clearly. I would like to see the statistical evidence that the system was working well in genuine situations for a range of callers - I'm not at all convinced that it could have been.  A couple of previous attempts to different lines also failed to understand what I said, no matter how simple I kept it.
  • I have just recovered from calls to Employer Helpline today. I wanted to discuss reason for RTI penalty demand in respect of  2012/13 where old P35 regime should still have applied. After about 10 minutes ITA eventually routed me to pre recorded information about written appeals – not what I needed.
    I tried again and remained silent. Eventually, ITA said “sorry, if you are the employer press 1….” I pressed option 2, agent, and was put straight into the 20 minute queue to speak to an operator. My query was eventually answered by an intelligent and knowledgeable human being. 

    If you are an agent, ITA is worse than useless. Please ask HMRC to scrap it.