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Where are they now with NZ Inland Revenue

We sat down with Richard Philp from NZIR to catch up on our revenue collections project and discuss the impact it has made.

Published on
January 28, 2020

What problem were you facing when you engaged The Customer Experience Company?

New Zealand Inland Revenue (NZIR) is responsible for collecting 80% of government revenue across New Zealand. Back in 2010, New Zealand’s tax debt was growing fast with almost a million customers not filing on time. At the time we were slow to contact overdue or defaulting customers, treated all customers the same despite very different risk profiles, and had minimal understanding of what drove compliance behaviour in our customers.

We set our aspirations high and aimed to become the leader in debt collection. We began making changes to our operations but we were struggling to engage our people. CEC was critical in helping us engage them by gathering insights from customers and internal stakeholders. This helped inform our staff on what the current state was and what the future could look like. But we didn’t stop there, we wanted all 753 people in Collections to have the opportunity to contribute to developing our future state vision and to build a collective purpose and customer commitments.

What impact has the work CEC developed had across the organisation?

For us, changing internal culture and engagement was extremely important. The Collections team, which was solely responsible for the recovery of debts until February 2018, were able to develop a shared vision and stories, and explore what gave staff satisfaction, pride and enjoyment to create a purpose and culture that reflected people’s views and enhanced customer-centric service. We combined this with upskilling staff to increase capability and empowering them with greater delegated authority to act on individual customer circumstances increased staff confidence and engagement.

This change was driven through, and by, all Collections people, not a top-down approach. We didn’t want this to feel like a team of consultants telling us what to do. We knew that the key to this project was that it was driven bottom-up and supported by the Collections leadership team and CEC. This mindset was key to ownership and pride in Collections’ shared future and an open, agile attitude to learning.  

Before Collections were restructured in 2018 we had the highest employee engagement across all divisions of NZIR. CEC showed us that it was possible to increase employee engagement alongside substantially greater performance results.

The vision of customer-centric and intelligence-led interventions, based on behavioural insights, was developed through extensive consultation with staff and reflected our people’s understanding of customers.

What’s changed for NZIR in the last 6 years?

We are proud to say that more people are filing and paying on time now than at the start of the decade in 2010. In early 2018 NZIR moved from a functional structure, where Collections was a core function responsible for the recovery of unfiled returns and debt, into a segment structure where the Collections staff were dispersed into all five of our Customer Segments. Our staff passion and their sense of purpose remains, and we continue to be better equipped to provide successful customer engagement based on understanding customers behaviour.

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