HMRC has cut down call-handling times by two minutes by automating manual processes, as tax authority announces plans for an Automated Delivery Centre to build robotics.
Automation has reduced the number of clicks call handlers have to make – Photo credit: Flickr, Bryce Johnson
The tax authority said that, by creating a dashboard for more than 7,500 contact centre advisers that automatically opens relevant case files on screen, it had cut down call times.
According to a blogpost by Mark Holl, digital programme manager for paperless HMRC, the move means staff have to click their mouse just 10 times per call – down from 66 clicks per call.
Holl said that this had reduced call times by around two minutes – an average of a 40% reduction – and cut out “dull repetitive tasks” for the call handlers, which he said allowed them to spend more time on complex and more interesting cases.
The project was set up through what HMRC calls its “ideas front door”, which allows staff to propose ideas to a Robotic Automation Board.
If the board approves them, they go through a four-stage development process and Holl said that the product could be in beta version or even live within five weeks.
Holl said that HMRC had received more than 200 ideas from staff, and were planning 30 new robotic automation projects, alongside an Automated Delivery Centre to build robotics.
The centre, which will be within HMRC’s existing digital delivery centres, will aim to make HMRC a leader in the use of government automation software, he said.
“For us, the key to benefiting both us and our customers is not just using the latest exciting robotic innovations to create whizzy new services,” said Holl.
“It’s about combining the technology with the knowledge and experience of our front line advisers, other HMRC people and customers, to create the best services possible.”
Holl’s blogpost also highlighted the HMRC’s digital mail service programme, which automatically scans and categorises mail before putting it onto an electronic customer file and assigning it to the right team.
This automation has saved around nine seconds per item of mail, and with around 3,000 cases a day this equates to about 450 hours a day, Holl said.
HMRC’s work to increase automation comes at the same time as the news that many local authorities and other public sector organisations are considering how to use robotic processes to increase efficiency.
A recent survey of 134 staff in 118 public sector bodies found that 53% of bodies had considered automation technology in the past year, while 21% are expecting to see it trialled in the next 12 months.
Like HMRC, the local government respondents said that the motivation for the move is to reduce time spent on repetitive tasks and free up time to focus on more critical services, as well as increased financial pressure and reduction in staff numbers.