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More Than Half of People are Frustrated by Digital Government Services, Survey Finds

The report found that 46% of respondents would be more likely to use digital technology to access government services if the technology was easier to use.

People want an easy-to-use digital government customer service experience, according to an Accenture report released Wednesday, as more than half of respondents found it frustrating to access government services.

According to the report, people want their government service experiences to be simple, secure and have a human element. Specifically, respondents said it should be simple and easy for people to get the help they need, governments should strengthen security practices and there should be a balance between human and digital interactions.

In particular, the report found that most people complained about lengthy and confusing processes when it comes to public services. Only 36% of people said that government agency processes and interactions are intuitive and 41% said that government processes are clear and understandable. Notably, 46% of respondents said they would be more likely to use digital technology to access government services if the technology was easier to use. 

“The best step forward to improve customer experiences is to establish simple and secure processes so people can get what they need on the first try,” Eyal Darmon, Accenture’s global public sector customer engagement lead, said in a press release. “If people—the customers—can quickly get easy questions answered via straightforward online, phone or in-person services, this frees up government workers to focus on more challenging customer service questions.”

For example, Accenture pointed to the importance of using everyday language. Specifically, “a U.S. state human services agency relabeled a link in its website navigation from ‘apply for unemployment insurance’ to ‘apply for unemployment payments.’ The switch to everyday language made it easier for people to access the service and begin the process of getting help.”

Respondents were also concerned about governments using their personal data, particularly about agencies’ abilities to secure their information and appropriately use it. For instance, only 49% of people surveyed are confident that agencies are using their data for the purpose they say they are using it. Additionally, at least 43% of people are more likely to use digital technology for government services if they were more confident in data security and privacy.

The report also looked at government workers’ perceptions of customer service. It found that about a third of government workers regularly receive cybersecurity and data security training.

“Continuous education and training on cybersecurity could help increase government workers’ and customers’ confidence in digital government services,” Darmon said. “Cyber-security should always be front-and-center as an ongoing priority.”

But usability also had an influence over whether respondents would share more of their data overall. Specifically, 53% of respondents stated that they would share more personal data with government agencies if it meant more convenient and efficient government services. 

The survey found that most people interact with governments once or twice a year, so, according to Accenture, “there aren’t chances to ‘practice’ getting comfortable with interfaces or processes, so experiences should be intuitive to resolve issues the first time. Otherwise, people keep trying until they get what they need, which adds frustration for them and expense for agencies. This dynamic can also affect people’s confidence in government services.”

Additionally, the report highlighted an increasing desire for more digital interaction with respondents’ respective governments. However, according to the report, access can be a challenge for some people who lack high-speed internet at home. 

The survey provided five areas that governments can improve to help create better customer experiences, with both short- and long-term goals and plans. The first is to deploy digital tools with intention, conducting strategic practices like an experience assessment and a standard digital approach, while expanding offerings. According to the report, governments should also: invite public input for the development and design process; provide more workforce education and training; develop strong partnerships; and clearly communicate to build people’s confidence, awareness and understanding of available government programs and services, while working to expand access and reach. 

The report is based on survey findings from North America, Europe and Asia-Pacific. Accenture surveyed 5,500 consumers and 3,000 public workers from March to April of this year in Australia, Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, Singapore, Spain, the United Kingdom and the United States.