This niceness concept is proving to be quite rewarding. I haven't felt moved to bite the head off of a blogger recently (although a few seem quite capable of self-decapitation I understand...), and that loss of irritation allows me to be a touch more mellow in my approach to the public.
The atmosphere at Euston Tower is a bit tense at the moment, with targets coming under pressure and delays in dealing with correspondence increasing. The result, more telephone calls, more reminder letters, more aggravation all round. Accountants are hassled by their clients looking for refunds, or the withdrawal of penalties, and they ring us. We tell them that we have arrears and, whilst we're doing that, we're not doing any productive work, which means that we have less time to address the backlog.
Luckily, I'm pretty cheerful. I take an honest approach and explain, as far as I am able to, where we are and what is possible. I'd rather not have to do so, but you pay our salaries, so we try to respond to you. If I'm happy, I'm also more productive, so work with me on this one.
So I'm more likely to try to be helpful, and you get a slightly less awful level of service. I never promised you a rose garden, but I might use a pair of tweezers to remove some of the thorns...