The Boston Consulting Group’s 2022 Digital Government Citizen Survey revealed a 63% user satisfaction rate with the experiences they encountered with government online services. If your reaction to that statistic ran along the lines of, “Wow, 63% sounds a little generous,” then you’ve likely had a recent experience with government online services, because let’s face it: Online services for government agencies are rarely good. This Boston Consulting Group article offers solutions to bring government services into the future – or at least to the present.
- Online services for the public sector tend to lag behind those of the private sector.
- Government agencies are usually siloed, so citizens must navigate more than one clunky, confusing website to access commonly-needed services.
- A dedicated, independent service delivery agency could simplify and streamline access to government services.
Online services for the public sector tend to lag behind those of the private sector.
Consumers have become used to seamless experiences with websites and apps, whether they’re shopping on Amazon.com or checking in with their finances at JPMorgan Chase. So when it comes to registering a major life event – the birth of a child, retirement, or anything in between – with relevant government organizations, they’re usually in for an unpleasant surprise. Stumbling onto a government website can be a frustrating experience.
“A government may be of the people, by the people, but its digital services aren’t often built around the people.”
The Boston Consulting Group conducted a survey, asking more than 28,000 people from 41 countries what they encountered when using government online services. Of 28,000 participants, “71% of respondents had encountered issues online, including technical glitches, lengthy process times, cumbersome navigation, and, simply, an inability to find what they needed.”
Government agencies are usually siloed, so citizens must navigate more than one clunky, confusing website to access commonly-needed services.
Each government agency operates as an independent entity with a unique IT infrastructure and processes that may not be compatible with other relevant organizations. Navigating these different systems is a clunky, often frustrating experience and users may miss important services that are available to them.
“A new parent shouldn’t have to access different platforms run by different agencies using different interfaces to do the things new parents need to do, such as registering a birth or scheduling vaccinations.”
Governments are facing a decision. The cheapest and fastest option would be to create a “digital front door,” or a springboard to access the web services of different agencies. Users would still have to deal with the different interfaces of various agencies, however. The second option would require creating a new service delivery agency “responsible for designing, managing and supporting” the digital portals for the services of the other agencies. The end user would only have to use one interface to interact with the subset of agencies relevant to their situation. Singapore, New Zealand and the US state of Oklahoma are experimenting with this approach, and in December 2021, US President Joe Biden issued an executive order that included a stipulation that the online services of public agencies should “coordinate their service delivery to achieve an integrated experience.”
A dedicated, independent service delivery agency could simplify and streamline access to government services.
When accessible, government services can have a strong positive impact on individual citizens, small businesses and the economy as a whole. A smooth means of filing paperwork and applying for licenses will lead to more satisfaction and more trust in the government.
“It’s an approach that pays its first dividends quickly and creates more value over time. It can help government realize the full potential of digital – and residents realize the full potential of government.”
The state of Oklahoma has embarked on a multiyear journey to making multiagency services available through a streamlined omnichannel delivery system. This is taking place under the umbrella of a new service delivery agency. When designing services, this agency focused on five design principles:
- “View the experience through the customer’s eye” – Use human-centered design (HCD) to invite customer feedback, then take it into consideration when delivering results. For Oklahoma residents, this meant prioritizing synchronous/asynchronous services, so customers could carry out the process independently, or directly with agents when the situation called for it.
- “Get to value quickly” – Think big, start small, build incrementally, then scale fast.
- “Let technology accelerate, not hinder, your progress” – Try drag-and-drop interfaces for low-code or no-code solutions. Inventory existing systems, and re-purpose where you can.
- “Embrace agile and a culture of collaboration” – Cultivate a test-and-learn culture and encourage knowledge transfer between in-house developers and external partners.
- “Focus relentlessly – from the start – on outcomes and metrics” – Get a baseline immediately after introducing a service, and continually measure KPIs that might include “number of credentials issued, backlogs, wait and service times, and customer satisfaction (CSAT) scores.”
Accessible online services should be a goal for every government agency. Government agencies will streamline services when they start viewing the end user – whether a government employee, individual citizen or small business – as a customer.
About the Authors
Neveen Awad, Jonathan Brice, Santiago Ferrer, Heidi Kim and Taylor Stuart are professionals with the Boston Consulting Group.