Citizens want governments to transform their online services to be more like those offered by the private sector, according to a study by Adobe and WPP.

More than 7,000 citizens in seven countries took part in the research, which found that their governments need to look beyond simply having a presence online, and more on delivering experiences that are personal and relevant to the user, in line with the experiences already widely delivered by private sector organisations.

“Citizens want online public services that are highly functional, efficient, and well designed. More fundamentally, they want a positive experience tailored to them and that supports a state-citizen relationship or dialogue,” the authors write.

The report also found governments were performing the best in areas citizens cared least about and falling short on areas rated as important.

To understand what drives a positive experience of online public services, researchers explored five dimensions of experience: citizen journey, mobile, design, relevance and relationship. They found that citizens ranked the more advanced and emotive dimensions, including relevance, relationship and design, as “most important” to their overall satisfaction with online government services.

Yet across all seven countries, respondents said that their governments are performing better on the more functional components of experience – citizen journey and mobile functionality.

“We’ve seen many governments going through digital transformations, making major investments in citizen services,” said Sean Howard, global managing director, the Government and Public Sector Practice at WPP.

“This citizen-centric study shows that by focusing on dimensions of relevance, design and relationship, governments may begin to fully realize the benefits of those digital transformations: more cost-effective service delivery; increased accuracy of transactions; improvements in citizen satisfaction and the corresponding benefits in citizens’ relationships with their government.”

While the need for modernisation of government services is recognised across many countries, the study examines citizens’ perspectives on what impacts their interactions with government online. Some of the most popular specific improvements to government services requested were:

  • Pre-filled tailored information;
  • Instant online communication for help; and
  • Being offered additional relevant information.

“We know trust in government is generally low, and that positive digital experiences increase citizens’ trust in their government,” said Jace Johnson, VP, Global Government Relations and Public Policy at Adobe.

“This study gives governments a clear path to build trust through innovation, which ultimately improves governments’ ability to create a stronger and more positive relationship with citizens.”

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