The customer experience imperative for trust in governments

19 April 2020 6 min. read

In a new report, Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and Salesforce have established a “clear link” between the customer experience in government digital services and overall trust in the government. At present, these digital services in Australia & New Zealand (ANZ) are found to be falling short of expectations.

The two firms surveyed more than 1,600 customers in ANZ, and supplemented their research with 20 responses from government leaders in the region. The aim was to establish what people expect from their government digital services, and the gaps that currently exist when it comes to the delivery of products and services.

Where private companies have for long realised the importance of customer experience as a factor for providing a competitive edge, the government has so far lacked a clear incentive to improve its experience. Boston Consulting Group and Salesforce have now concluded that the trust in the government can change almost instantly based on a customer’s interaction with a government’s digital services.

Link between customer experience and trust in the government

Aspects of the experience such as the ease of use, accessibility of information, smoothness of service and transparency in the use of data by the government can all have a direct impact on trust. To this end, the government has a direct incentive in offering good consumer experience, amid mounting consumer expectations.

According to the analysis, most customers in the ANZ region expect government customer experience to match that of the best private companies in the world at the very least. A significant chunk between 10% and 20% even expect these services to match digital leaders across the globe such as Apple and Google. The remainder expect ANZ government services to be at the standard of the best government services in the world, while only 10% have even lower standards.

“High expectations are understandable given the number of transactions with government that relate to significant life events, such as employment, education, and health, and involve sensitive information. For this reason, approximately 50% of customers agree that the standard of government services needs to be higher than the private sector,” states the report.

Expectations are at par with leaders in the private sector

According to the authors, this scenario is not likely to get any easier for the government, given that customer experience in the private sector is evolving and improving at a rapid rate. With digitalisation breeding a degree of uniformity in services, customer experience can serve as a key differentiating factor, with many businesses as a result looking to digital channels to enhance their customer experience.

Improvements in the private sector will prime the public for bigger expectations from the public sector, which will be multidimensional according to the report. For instance, customers not only expect ease of use and transparency of data in government websites, but an increasing share also expects transactions to be tailored to their personal needs.

A lot can be drawn from nuances in the individual expectations as well. BCG and Salesforce highlight how most respondents to their survey demanded greater ‘ease of use’ from government websites and apps. According to the firms, this indicates that government digital services in the ANZ zone remain in a preliminary phase, yet to meet basic customer demands.

Degree of customer expectations

The slow development is partly the result of the fact that engagement with online services was previously low among the public, not only in ANZ but across the globe. However, the rate of digitalisation amongst the public has been remarkable in recent years, and the government must now play catchup.

“The skill gap between customers who use technology and those who don’t is no longer a barrier to governments moving services to digital channels,” states the report. Now, several sectors in the private sector are growing rapidly via digital channels, while Australia’s online commerce landscape has undergone a significant boom in recent years, all due to rising levels of digital literacy.

A cost edge

BCG, a top strategic consulting firm, and Salesforce, a provider of customer relationship management software, highlight that a transition to the digital sphere will not only help build trust, but it could also be a strong means to cost-effectiveness. For instance, the cost to process a face-to-face government transaction could cost up to $17, while this cost drops to 40 cents in the digital sphere.

Expectations from sharing personal dataAll in all, the digitalisation of government services is imperative going forward, not only to deliver basic standards but to meet evolving customer experiences and meet global standards of tech advancement. These demands also increase proportionally to the amount of personal data being gathered by the government.

The survey found that people expect a holistic improvement to government services in exchange for personal data, which includes a simplified user experience, faster completion times, reduced service fees and more personalisation. This is also likely to bring more benefits to the community as a whole, as products and services will be continuously improved, access will improve for marginalised communities, and larger datasets will emerge to inform policy research.