What is your agent?s attitude towards digital?

26 February 2015

The recently published report entitled Tax Agent Segmentation Research - Exploring agents’ digital needs and attitudes found that the agent population, estimated to be in the region of 43,000 paid tax agent firms in the UK, ranging from sole traders to international corporations, could be profiled into one of four segments, as relates to their attitude towards online services and willingness to use HMRC’s digital services.

Three segments that were confident and capable and had demonstrated a clear interest in conducting more dealings online and engaging with HMRC digitally were:

  • Corporate pacemakers (11% of population): Annual turnover above £250,000
  • Mid-sized progressives: (26% of population): Annual turnover £50,000 – under £250,000
  • Small but savvy (51% of population): Below £50,000

“The remaining 11% of the segmented population fell into a segment that were generally unconfident and unwilling to use HMRC digital services, termed the ‘Hard to win over’. These businesses tended to have an annual turnover below £50,000.”

The report formed some interesting conclusions, particularly on the view of agents towards new digital services and tools – especially if things go wrong:

Agents said they preferred digital support tools and guidance, but they expected this to be easy to find and signposted at the point at which they experienced the issue – otherwise they will call the contact centre, despite considering this a ‘last resort’.”

For anyone who has needed to call any one of HMRC’s helplines recently, this ‘last resort’ attitude will come as no surprise. Let us hope that the new digital services aimed at agents really do deliver on their promise.

And so, even if you aren’t a tax agent, Tax Agent Segmentation Research – Exploring agents digital needs and attitudes is a recommended read for the IT lead within your payroll team. Digital exemplar services are being designed and delivered for many business and non-business services – which segment would you fit into?