Getting the message across - the importance of good communications
A HMRC case study

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Page 3: Internal and external communication

Organisations communicate:

  • internally - within the organisation itself
  • externally - with stakeholders and customers.

Internally, the Inland Revenue needs to ensure that all its employees understand the new developments and the changing nature of their responsibilities. External communication involves ensuring that stakeholders and customers are kept informed. For example:

  • Business customers need to know about the enforcement of the minimum wage.
  • The government requires (and demands) to know how the Inland Revenue is implementing new policy initiatives such as the payment of tax credits.
  • Individual taxpayers and tax credit recipients want to be kept informed about arrangements for paying taxes and receiving tax credits.

One Core Trait that illustrates the Inland Revenue's modern approach is the steps it takes to portray itself as an organisation of human beings rather than an unfeeling administrative machine. For external communication, it expects its employees to 'be open to customer problems and try to understand the situation from their perspective.' Internally, this translates into people being 'approachable and understanding at all times' e.g. in their dealings with colleagues. The benefits of improved customer service and communication

In looking to improve its customer service, the Inland Revenue is pursuing 'enlightened self-interest' - there are benefits to itself as well as to customers. For example, a policy of 'getting things right first time' means that:

  • relationships with customers are improved
  • the Inland Revenue saves time, money and effort, and so do customers
  • individuals and businesses are more likely to comply with tax and benefit requirements
  • it frees up Inland Revenue time to deal with other key work - for example - identifying and pursuing persistent tax evaders.

Because the Inland Revenue has progressed from being solely a 'tax assessing and collecting department' to a customer-focused provider of a range of services, it has needed to change the ways in which it operates and how people within it work: it has needed to alter its culture. The Inland Revenue is in the process of developing this new culture. Any attempt to change an organisation's culture takes time, so it is important to train staff, and to communicate regularly with them as part of 'winning over hearts and minds'.

HMRC | Getting the message across - the importance of good communications