Australians expect tailored government services, research finds

By Shannon Jenkins

April 28, 2021

government offices
Sometimes the common perception of a public servant’s role is lacking power to exercise agency. (Image: Adobe/AnthonyC)

New research has found that government services should be more tailored to the individual circumstances of members of the public, but it has urged governments to also ensure they are transparent before using citizens’ data to enhance service delivery.

The research, released on Tuesday by Boston Consulting Group (BCG) and Salesforce, found that 62% of Australian customers think digital government services would be greatly improved if they were personalised to customers’ specific situations.

They survey of almost 3000 people from across Australia and New Zealand, conducted in March 2021, found 76% of respondents expect government services to be tailored to their individual circumstances, and 87% expect some level of proactivity from agencies.

The research also revealed that 51% of Australian customers expect governments to match or exceed the high standards set by the best private sector companies. Salesforce APAC director of public sector strategy Gisele Kapterian noted that while Australians have given government permission to personalise their services, they don’t necessarily want predictive online experience that retailers like The Iconic offer.

“Instead, they want governments to use what has been shared with them to better tailor services and communication to meet customer needs,” she said.

“Successful delivery of great customer experiences provides the trust and permission needed for governments to continue to get closer to their customers. Now is the time to invest in the skills, technology and processes that deliver government services at greater speed, scale and quality.”

READ MORE: Trust in federal government departments’ handling of personal information declining, survey finds

The survey found 39% of Australians believe services have improved over the past 12 months. More than half (52%) said their trust in government services increased over that same period, based on the overall quality of digital services.

BCG senior partner and managing director Miguel Carrasco noted that the more mature digital governments found it easier to adapt and deliver new services and features quickly during COVID-19. This led to higher levels of customer satisfaction and trust.

“On the back of the increased trust generated through good digital services, governments have an opportunity to lean in and do more on personalisation and proactive service delivery,” he said.

“Customers have said they want it and are comfortable sharing their data to enable it, as long as the data is secured and the benefits of doing so are clear, tangible and immediate.”

When asked about data sharing, 70% of respondents expressed willingness to share personal data, provided the benefits and safeguards are communicated clearly. While only 43% of people thought governments were doing a good job of communicating the personal and community benefits of sharing data, this has actually improved. In October 2019, only 27% believed they were doing a good job.

In regard to third party data sources, the research found around 45% of Australian and NZ customers were comfortable with governments aggregating data from commercial sources of data, such as utilities and financial institutions. However, customers were far less comfortable with governments using retail and social media companies.

The report has recommended that to deliver the personalised and proactive services needed in the future, governments think deeply about where to use personalisation, to avoid perceptions of being ‘creepy’, and ask for informed consent before providing tailored services.

Governments should also only use technology to deliver more personalised and proactive services if they are confident in the quality of the underlying data, as well as foster a culture of data use transparency, and communicate the value exchange for sharing data.

READ MORE: Getting a grip on the public’s growing mistrust in government


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