The FINANCIAL — Canadians want their government to consult with them directly when determining future enhancements to government services, according to a survey conducted on behalf of Accenture, which asked Canadians to rank top priorities for the future of government services.
Respondents to the online survey were asked to identify which of following five actions related to the provision of government services was most important to them: Providing more services online; Engaging the public personally more often to determine the future of government services; Matching or exceeding commercial service levels; Providing access to more services from a smartphone; and Putting more emphasis on the face-to-face experience.
Personally engaging citizens more frequently to determine the future of government services was cited most often by nearly half (48 percent) of respondents, followed closely by ‘Providing more services online,’ ‘Matching or exceeding commercial services levels’ and ‘Putting more emphasis on the face-to-face experience,’ at 45 percent, 45 percent and 44 percent, respectively. ‘Improving access to government services via smartphone’ was cited least often, at 17 percent.
“Canadians’ expectations of government service and interaction continue to evolve and the bar is getting higher daily as online and mobile technology changes how we work and live across every generation,” said Dave Telka, a managing director in Accenture’s Public Service practice in Canada. “The move toward a more digitally enabled citizen base is only getting stronger, and Canadians’ expectations for services are influenced by what they’re experiencing for commercial transactions such as online banking, Uber or Amazon. In this digital era, when citizens are looking at how government offers services, citizens are expecting to have a similar customer experience.”
The underlying findings demonstrated clear generational preferences, reflecting a shift toward greater digital engagement with the younger generations. Specifically:
Millennial (aged 18-34) Canadians want government to provide more services online (cited by 55 percent of this group), engage the public more often to determine the future of government services (51 percent), match or exceed commercial service levels (36 percent), access more services from a smartphone (30 percent), and put more emphasis on the face-to-face experience (29 percent).
Gen X (aged 35-54) Canadians want government to match or exceed commercial service levels (48 percent), put more emphasis on the face-to-face experience (47 percent), engage the public more often to determine the future of government services (46 percent), provide more services online (45 percent), access more services from a smartphone (14 percent).
Boomer (aged 55+) Canadians want government to focus on enhancing the face-to-face experience (54 percent), matching or exceeding commercial service levels (49 percent), more engagement (49 percent), providing more services online more generally (38 percent), the ability to access more government services from their smartphone (10 percent).
“For now, Boomers prefer in-person experiences but are moving to adapting to new online experiences, while Millennials want more online experiences and are more willing to leave personal interactions behind, and Gen X’ers want to have it all, bridging between the personal and online government service experiences,” Telka said. “This will change in the coming years, as more and more Boomers and Gen X’ers have increasingly positive digital customer experiences. As a result, government must stay directly engaged with each of these groups in order to be able to design personalized services that meet their citizens’ needs.”
The survey results also reveal that priorities for the enhancement of government services vary by region, where there might be differing expectations from, and experiences with, various levels of government. In particular:
Residents of Alberta and Quebec are the most likely to want government to engage citizens more often, cited by 54 percent and 53 percent of respondents in those regions, with those in Atlantic Canada and British Columbia—at 44 percent and 41 percent, respectively—the least likely to cite increased engagement as a priority.
With regards to providing more services online, Atlantic Canada (53 percent) is most likely to prioritize this enhancement, followed by Ontario (48 percent), residents of Saskatchewan and Manitoba (45 percent), Quebec (44 percent), Alberta (43 percent) and British Columbia (37 percent).
When it comes to exceeding commercial service levels, British Columbia residents (57 percent) are by far the most likely to prioritize this enhancement, followed by those in Quebec (46 percent), Ontario (43 percent), Alberta (42 percent), Atlantic Canada (41 percent), and those in Saskatchewan and Manitoba (35 percent).
On placing more emphasis on face-to-face interaction, those in Quebec (47 percent) and Saskatchewan and Manitoba (47 percent) are slightly more likely to prioritize this area than Ontario (44 percent), British Columbia (44 percent), Atlantic Canada (43 percent), and Alberta (41 percent).
Although a low priority among residents of all regions, the ability to access services by smartphone was cited most often by residents of Saskatchewan and Manitoba, at 23 percent, followed by those in Alberta (20 percent), British Columbia (20 percent), Atlantic Canada (19 percent), Ontario (18 percent) and Quebec (11 percent).