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Millennials pushing online, mobile shift in government services
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Millennials pushing online, mobile shift in government services 

If government agencies are intent in enhancing engagement with citizens they need to get a move on in rolling out better online and mobile services for the public, according to a recent survey.

Ipsos, on behalf of Accenture, conducted an online poll of 1,000 Canadians aged 18+ between Nov 11 and 15, 2016. Quotas and weighting were employed to ensure that the sample’s composition reflects that of the Canadian population according to census information. The results are considered accurate to within +/- 3.5  percentage points, 19 times out of 20, of what the results would have been had all Canadians been polled.

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Personally engaging citizens more frequently to determine the future of government services was cited most often by nearly half (48  per cent) of respondents, followed closely by ‘Providing more services online,’ ‘Matching or exceeding commercial services levels’ and ‘Putting more emphasis on the face-to-face experience,’ at 45  per cent, 45  per cent and 44  per cent, respectively.  ‘Improving access to government services via smartphone’ was cited least often, at 17  per cent.

“Canadians’ expectations of government service and interaction continue to evolve and the bar is getting higher daily as online and mobile technology changes how we work and live across every generation,” said Dave Telka, a managing director in Accenture’s Public Service practice in Canada. “The move toward a more digitally enabled citizen base is only getting stronger, and Canadians’ expectations for services are influenced by what they’re experiencing for commercial transactions such as online banking, Uber or Amazon.”

The survey found:

Millennial (aged 18-34) Canadians want government to provide more services online (cited by 55  per cent of this group), engage the public more often to determine the future of government services (51  per cent), match or exceed commercial service levels (36  per cent), access more services from a smartphone (30  per cent), and put more emphasis on the face-to-face experience (29  per cent). 

Gen X (aged 35-54) Canadians want government to match or exceed commercial service levels (48  per cent), put more emphasis on the face-to-face experience (47  per cent), engage the public more often to determine the future of government services (46  per cent), provide more services online (45  per cent), access more services from a smartphone (14  per cent). 

The survey results also reveal that priorities for the enhancement of government services vary by region, where there might be differing expectations from, and experiences with, various levels of government:

  • Residents of Alberta and Quebec are the most likely to want government to engage citizens more often, cited by 54  per cent and 53  per cent of respondents in those regions, with those in Atlantic Canada and British Columbia—at 44  per cent and 41  per cent, respectively—the least likely to cite increased engagement as a priority. 
  • With regards to providing more services online, Atlantic Canada (53  per cent) is most likely to prioritize this enhancement, followed by Ontario (48  per cent), residents of Saskatchewan and Manitoba (45  per cent), Quebec (44  per cent), Alberta (43  per cent) and British Columbia (37  per cent). 
  • When it comes to exceeding commercial service levels, British Columbia residents (57  per cent) are by far the most likely to prioritize this enhancement, followed by those in Quebec (46  per cent), Ontario (43  per cent), Alberta (42  per cent), Atlantic Canada (41  per cent), and those in Saskatchewan and Manitoba (35  per cent). 
  • On placing more emphasis on face-to-face interaction, those in Quebec (47  per cent) and Saskatchewan and Manitoba (47  per cent) are slightly more likely to prioritize this area than Ontario (44  per cent), British Columbia (44  per cent), Atlantic Canada (43  per cent), and Alberta (41  per cent). 
  • Although a low priority among residents of all regions, the ability to access services by smartphone was cited most often by residents of Saskatchewan and Manitoba, at 23  per cent, followed by those in Alberta (20  per cent), British Columbia (20  per cent), Atlantic Canada (19  per cent), Ontario (18  per cent) and Quebec (11  per cent).

“For now, Boomers prefer in-person experiences but are moving to adapting to new online experiences, while Millennials want more online experiences and are more willing to leave personal interactions behind, and Gen X’ers want to have it all, bridging between the personal and online government service experiences,” Telka said.

He said this will change in the coming years, as more and more Boomers and Gen X’ers have increasingly positive digital customer experiences. 

As a result, government must stay directly engaged with each of these groups in order to be able to design personalized services that meet their citizens’ needs,” said Telka.

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