HMRC’s Voice recognition telephone system – How do you find using it?

In November 2013, HMRC replaced some of the touchtone Interactive Voice response (IVRs), which asked callers to press a number on their keypad to select an option from the range given, with Intelligent Telephony Automation (ITA), a speech recognition technology. Since its introduction improvements have been made and HMRC is looking to keep developing the system further.
We are still receiving reports from members that in addition to the problem in getting through on the phone, ITA is frustrating to use and it is difficult to get through to the right person straight away.
Post a comment to let us know your view of HMRC’s ITA system
HMRC has also asked us for feedback on what works well and what is still causing you difficulty. Please help by letting us know your experience of the ITA system by posting a short comment. Some of the areas on which you may wish to comment are:

·        What line did you call?

·        What were you calling about?

·        Did the system understand your subject matter?

·        Did you get through to an adviser who could help straight away? If not, how many times were you transferred?

·        Was the adviser able to deal with you query?

·        Were you disconnected?

·        What suggestions do you have to improve the system?

Please note that ITA was not introduced on HMRC’s Agent dedicated lines, but was implemented on the following lines:
PAYE                                      0300 200 3300
Self Assessment (SA)             0300 200 3310
VAT                                         0300 200 3700
Tax Credits                              0345 300 3900
Child Benefit                            0300 200 3100
Payment Enquiry Line             0300 200 3401
Employer Helpline                   0300 200 3200
National Insurance                  0300 200 3500
The ITA system consists of two elements. First, an open menu which provides a speech enabled call routing ‘How can I help you’ approach. ITA intends that callers will be asked at least two questions before they are put through to either an adviser or to a message that answers their question. The second element of ITA is Identity & Verification (ID&V) which provides speech automated security using known facts about the caller to verify their identity when they have a specific query about their account.
Useful links
TAXtools 1: HMRC contact information in one place
  • Nigel,
    The concern about the HMRC Voice recognition system is a top service issue reported through Working Together. We are already working with HMRC and other professional bodies centrally through the Issues Overview Group(IOG) to identify improvements. The system has recently been upgraded to take into account feedback. This forum post is part of this continuing work and we will share the comments on this forum post with HMRC.
    Philippa Stedman
  • When someone rings HMRC, I doubt that it is possible for a voice recognition system to cater for every potential query that may arise which then will leave the enquirer in the position of not being able to have his query answered or having to give a reply which doesn't correspond to his query simply to access a human being.
  • Your heart sinks & longs to hear from one of the lovely HMRC staff who invariably perform better than the automated accountant or tax robot. When a client, generally small businesses, propose such a system then they can ring HMRC and fairly quickly change their mind. For that its helpful. Business is still best with a human touch, embracing new technology but not for telephones. If you were a real HMRC 'customer' you'd likely put down the phone and try elsewhere lets face it. Unfortunately this inefficiency cost is of HMRC radar as its passed to agents, individuals and small businesses, its best if we could invoice for our time.
  • I absolutely hate it! It is frustrating and really winds me up. I am instantly put in a bad mood and that probably comes across to the HMRC employee who eventually answers the call.

    Recently I called the Employers' helpline, I can't remember the details but mentioned PAYE and 40 minutes later was told I was on Employee line - I can't charge the client for that. I was advised to say Employer's helpline which I have tried but it doesn't like that.

    If you give too much detail it can't cope. It really seems totally illogical.

    If I call HMRC it is to speak to someone and I will have a 64-8, so please don't waste my time telling me information is on the internet and that they can only talk to me if I have a 64-8.

    It would be better if the phone was instantly answered by a human being who could then weed out calls and make sure you are in the correct queue.
  • I needed to re-activate a client's CIS contractor scheme yesterday - so I called the CIS helpline who told me I had to call the employers helpline - the employers helpline automated service then told me to call the CIS helpline and cut me off. I think the best bet with the automated service is to say nothing and then you get put through to a human being. Also I wish they wouldn't make us sit through a minutes worth of irrelevant information at the start of every call.
  • Anonymous
    HMRC should not be testing embryonic systems on their "customers".  The testing should be completed before inflicting such frustrations on the public.
  • Horrible - very frustrating and just wanted to shout and swear at it. Didn't understand anything I said to it. Why does HMRC use such diabolical systems which neither work and just frustrate the process. Maybe so that no one gets through and maybe there is no one at the other end. 
  • Anonymous
    I just had a terrible experience with it. I was on for 10 minutes and it seemingly didn't understand my Scottish accent at all!. It was trying to set me up with the voice as your password and I said the same sentence as her 4 times and kept telling me I wasn't saying the same thing. THen eventually when it went to transfer me to a person it hung up on me!!! So annoying
  • Anonymous
    I absolutely hate this irritating service. It is never programmed to what i want to ask, and wastes my time in a most irritating way until i can eventually get through to an advisor after wasting my time and money
  • Like many others, I find it useless. The PAYE line in particular seems to have problems with things that I, as agent, want to speak about. Like other callers, I spend several minutes getting more and more frustrated that it cannot understand/interpret my request and eventually get through to a real person who has no trouble at all.
  • Anonymous
    I was calling about my own affairs and it worked, but it did not prevent the interminable messages about what I could do online nor shorten the wait to speak to a human being, on one occasion 30 minutes. It is sad that this is all so inefficient as once you get to a human being they try to be helpful and are unfailingly good humoured, which must be very hard to achieve when dealing constantly with frustrated taxpayers.