Acting as a regulator and enabler
A HMRC case study

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Page 6: Changing the image

Most of us can think of organisations about which people have negative perceptions. In some instances, the perception may also be the reality, but in others it may be seriously wrong and outdated. People's views may display lack of current knowledge (ignorance), lack of interest in finding out the real position (apathy), and a determination to continue to think and believe the worst, based perhaps on past experience (prejudice). For any organisation faced with negative perceptions, changing the image and establishing the new reality is vital and hard work.

In seeking to encourage a greater level of compliance the Inland Revenue needed to improve its customer serviceto a more positive experience, which would in turn create a more positive perception amongst those who came into contact with the organisation.

To help with this change of image, the Inland Revenue appointed a Marketing and Communications Director, Ian Schoolar. To achieve this, the Inland Revenue has concentrated on improving its performance at the point of contact with citizens through a customer focused strategy developed by Ian Schoolar. This has meant:

  • adopting an appropriate response to customer behaviour
  • understanding the needs and behaviours of different groups of tax payers and meeting those needs
  • promoting customer co-operation by offering help and support
  • continuing to tackle non-compliance effectively
  • working co-operatively and in teams towards common aims.

The Inland Revenue is a service delivery organisation. As such it has to consider how its every action affects its relationships with tax payers. If it is successful in understanding and delivering what citizens need, this will lead to them being more satisfied and more willing to co-operate. This greater level of customer compliance and co-operation will help the Inland Revenue become more cost effective and efficient, which in turn will lead to it being more highly regarded; and a continuous cycle of improvement will have been created. In its drive to become more customer focused, the Inland Revenue has conducted research to discover what tax payers expect. It found that they want all Inland Revenue staff to be:

  • knowledgeable
  • objective
  • human
  • clear
  • reasonable
  • efficient.

These findings are hardly surprising, but are important, and have led to the Inland Revenue working hard to change its culture. In particular, it has established performance standards against which to measure how well it is doing.

HMRC | Acting as a regulator and enabler