I’m Femke Hawkesworth, product owner for the HMRC mobile app. I started at HMRC in September 2016, joining a busy team based in our digital delivery centre in Worthing. The app received great recognition recently when it was shortlisted for Best Public Sector app at the UXUK Awards- a real milestone considering where we started little more than a year ago. This is our app story so far.
HMRC wants to bring more taxpayers online, both to better serve customers and to make its operations more efficient. We know not everyone has access to a computer at home, but many now have a smartphone.
HMRC has had a mobile app since 2012 and last year we took the decision to update it, taking what was a simple tax calculator and aiming to turn it into something interactive that would more closely meet the changing needs of our customers. We believed that the mobile channel would suit the busy lifestyle of some of our customers, giving them the opportunity to get the information they need quickly and conveniently on the go.
Our team (a combination of HMRC project professionals, stakeholders and consultants from Equal Experts) delivered the first iteration of the HMRC app in just eight weeks, relaunching it in time for the tax credits renewal period in July 2016. Available on both iOS and Android, the new, improved version meant people could just log in via their phones to access their key tax and tax credits information: a simpler way for individuals to manage their relationship with HMRC.
The app continued to evolve throughout 2017. With great new ideas coming from the team all the time, and using the feedback we got from our customers, we released new updates every two weeks. And as we predicted, the app is changing the way customers interact with their tax accounts. 38,000 tax credit renewals were completed in the app in 2017 and our renewal tracker contributed to a projected reduction of 17,000 progress checking calls to HMRC.
A key reason to use the app is instant access to your tax account. After the initial set-up, it’s simple to log in with your fingerprint or face, depending what your handset supports. Biometric verification technology is as strong as passwords and PINs, so we’ve not sacrificed security in making access so easy.
Customers are finding real value in the app, using it more frequently and in a different way to the web channel. Between April and June 2017 the average HMRC app user accessed it 14 times, with only a very small number needing to call HMRC on the same day. With nearly a third of a million users in October, the app is now established as an additional channel that is helping HMRC serve its customers better.
We’re proud we’ve been able to help customers in this way, and pleased with how the mobile app product has grown over the last year. We’re also excited about opportunities for the future - we’ve only just scratched the surface of the potential benefits and look forward to finding new ways to make it easier for everyone to manage their tax, and help HMRC achieve its digital transformation goals.
Femke Hawkesworth, Product Owner HMRC mobile app
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