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HMRC internal manual

Debt Management and Banking Manual

From
HM Revenue & Customs
Updated
, see all updates

Customer contact and data security: telephone contact: reasons for using the telephone for customer contact

Using the phone for customer contact

Phone contact is a highly cost effective way of dealing with customers. You should always attempt a phone call before outdoor enforcement action unless past experience has shown that phoning will not achieve your objective.

One advantage of phone contact (as opposed to written correspondence) is that it is an immediate two-way communication. It quickly gives you the chance to find out why duty has not been paid or a return/information has not been sent in. It also gives you the opportunity to negotiate payments, set up time to pays or advise of the next enforcement action.

When contacting the customer by phone you may find out that:

  • the amount is disputed
  • a cash flow problem prevents payment and a Time To Pay is the best method of securing payment
  • due to an oversight the customer has forgotten to send the remittance/return and so on
  • the customer has not received our demand letters for whatever reason, for example they have moved
  • the customer is being evasive.

The way you project yourself on the phone not only affects whether you are successful in achieving your immediate aim, but also influences future co-operation and relationships with both customers and colleagues in other offices.

A good phone technique is something that is acquired with experience and you will pick up good practices from listening to how your colleagues project themselves.

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Customer requests not to be contacted by phone

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