Governments Lack The Knack: Citizens Want Better Online Engagement

It’s a bit much for governments to think of citizens as “customers;” as with the IRS, the relationship is not always voluntary. Still, citizens want governments to operate online more like the private sector, according to a recent poll by Adobe and WPP.

That means they want:

  • Pre-filled tailored information
  • Instant online communication for help
  • Offers of additional relevant information 

And in the case of a large, federalized state that already delivers ease of use and functionality, citizens want the online experience to "delight and be enjoyable."

Adobe and WPP surveyed over 7,000 citizens in seven countries. They found that government online services "are at best 'adequate' at fully meeting the needs of citizens."

Drilling down, 36% of those polled want related information to be sent by email or text.

Wait, let us clarify that — this figure refers to citizens in federal parliamentary republics, where internet and mobile use are very high. It falls to around 20% or less in other types of governments — like parliamentary constitutional monarchies.



Even in the federal parliamentary group, email is outranked by "saving in session (39%), instant online communication for help (44%). 

The study apparently doesn’t cover autocracies and dictatorships.

Overall, respondents give their rulers high marks for the functional components of online engagement — those associated with “infrastructure, IT, and the basic foundations of digital delivery,” the study says. But they want more “emotive” elements — relevance, relationship and design.

And of course, they demand immediate response, no matter how that may be delivered.

“Features that enable people to seek guidance in the moment — such as integrated chat support that detects what page people are on — are a crucial next step in the evolution of the online government experience,” the study notes.

Why should governments focus on these issues when there are daunting societal problems?

Here’s why. “We know trust in government is generally low, and that positive digital experiences increase citizens’ trust in their government,” states Jace Johnson, vice president, global government relations and public policy at Adobe.

These digital transformations lead to “more cost-effective service delivery; increased accuracy of transactions; improvements in citizen satisfaction and the corresponding benefits in citizens’ relationships with their government,” adds Sean Howard, global managing director, the Government & Public Sector Practice at WPP.

That said, don’t lose sight of functionality. A good enterprise system should cover all agencies, while protecting citizen privacy. And it better work 24/7.

The Times-Picayune reports that “for the second time in roughly a month, the computer system appears to have gone down statewide again for the Louisiana Office of Motor Vehicles, and motorists cannot renew their driver's licenses or obtain new ones. 

Now that’s not very enjoyable.


Next story loading loading..