Yes, Government Can Deliver a Delightful Experience

by Jennifer Mulveny

posted on 12-09-2019

Most Australians may not be quick to characterise their interactions with government as delightful. Or simple. Or personalised.

But the Minister for Government Services, Stuart Robert, wants to change that.

Minister Robert has delivered a passionate speech in Canberra outlining his vision to reimagine the Australian people’s experience with government, whether online or in person. Just like retailers or the entertainment industry, the Minister says the Australian Government should become “radically customer centric” in a new approach to how it delivers on services.

Adobe’s recent research with Deloitte – Rethinking The Digital Dividend – explored what this approach could look like by analysing the amount of time Australians spend interacting with government agencies. The findings show that every Australian could save a full working day per year if governments made sufficient improvements to existing digital services. What’s more, the study found that public servants are now prioritising service delivery over cost savings.

Minister Robert was clear that this new approach need not be a pie-in-the-sky aspiration, nor does the transformation need to happen overnight for all government services. But, he was clear to point out, the time to start is now.

Ease and speed: “Get in and get out”

The Minister could not have been more right when he proclaimed that citizens want to deal with one government, invest as little of their time as possible, with as little effort as possible. People want to “get in and get out”, he says. They want a simple interaction that is intuitive, relevant, tailored to their unique circumstances and allows them to engage however they want.

Imagine helpful reminders on the pending expiration of your passport and prompts to apply for childcare after the birth of a child. Imagine if that application came to your inbox, in a pre-populated secure online form with all the information you have previously provided to the government, such as your name, address and date of birth with an option for a digital signature and a send button.

This is what the private sector is achieving every day – and it has undoubtedly set a new bar for what we expect from every online encounter. In fact, if the digital experience transformation has taught us anything, it’s that consumers don’t just shop for products, they seek experiences. And the vendors that delight customers with the best experiences are quickly claiming loyalty and thus a natural advantage over their competition.

Meeting the people’s needs

To state the obvious: the government has no competition. So why redesign the look and feel of government websites and aim to have all services online by 2025? People expect it, that’s why. The online experiences delivered by the private sector have raised expectations to be able to do everything through a quick and easy online portal. The widening gap between online banking, paying bills, and other life administrative tasks compared to interacting with government is increasingly noticeable in the lives of Australians. Adobe studies have shown that digitising government services can give citizens back one average a day a year, that is a lot of time not waiting on the phone, or poring over paper forms.

Another statement of the obvious: trust in government is not at a record high. Adobe studies have shown that creating better experiences engenders greater trust; providing access to transparent systems through which citizens can seek services, track their applications and make easy online payments, goes a long way to meeting them where they are, rather than government developing self-serving processes that create outward roadblocks.

Minister Robert also spoke about the diverse circumstances of “everyday Australians” – from those living in remote communities to those living with a variety of disabilities. Government should meet Australians’ needs, he said, not government’s needs. And there should still be the option for an accessible service centre which offers as much satisfaction as a digital one. Spot on.

Government should aim to have a single view of each citizen, understanding them so well that every piece of information it delivers to them is relevant, timely, helpful and, yes, delightful. It should provide personalisation that reflects our needs and piques our interest.

Data sharing for seamlessness

To achieve its aims, government will need to continue to roll out some important changes that allow agencies to share data responsibly to serve us all better. For example, the Department of Immigration might share passport information with the Australian Taxation Office, so that when you lodge a tax return, you might also get a reminder of a pending passport expiry. Or your tax return forms might include the change of address you already provided in a previous interaction with government.

Imagine, again, one bespoke citizen dashboard that overcomes the current silos that are hampering services and making the current experience out of date – and not so delightful. All interactions with government, in one easy and convenient place.

In his speech, the Minister was clear that government has an uphill climb compared to the private sector, which he says is appropriately “customer obsessed”. But this is not deterring him or his vision. He wants Australia to be world-class in delivering services to citizens with all government services online by 2025. And with the right vision, the right leadership, the right citizen-centric focus and policies, there is every reason this can be achieved.

Digitising government interactions can enhance the citizen experience and save Australians a full working day per year. Learn more in the latest report by Adobe and Deloitte – Rethinking the Digital Dividend.

Topics: Industry, Government, APAC