The majority of citizens are willing to share personal information with government agencies in exchange for better service, according to a global study issued today by Accenture (NYSE: ACN).
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The study — based on a survey of more than 6,500 respondents across 11 countries in Europe, North America and Asia Pacific — found that just two-fifths (41%) of respondents were satisfied with the level of interaction received from government departments over the last year, and more than half (58%) said they are not aware of a way to share service-related feedback with government agencies.
Despite those findings, the vast majority (84%) of respondents said they are open to sharing their personally identifiable information with a government department in exchange for a more personalized customer service experience. Additionally, two-fifths (41%) of respondents said they would be comfortable with their personal information being shared between government agencies if it would enhance customer service.
“In recent years governments have taken positive steps to secure and protect citizen and organizational data. However, corresponding regulatory measures have at times also prevented government agencies from using customer data in innovative ways to enhance customer service. A solution would be to ask for citizen consent, allowing for citizens to opt-in to new data-sharing programs across government agencies,” said Eyal Darmon, a managing director in Accenture’s Health & Public Service practice and sponsor of the study.
More than three-fourths (78%) of citizens said they see benefits to using virtual agents — artificial intelligence (AI)-enabled customer-service assistants or chatbots — to receive services from government agencies, and almost half (47%) said they would like to complete some transactions using virtual agents. Additionally, half (50%) of respondents said they believe their query could be resolved in the shortest possible time using a virtual agent, and a similar number (49%) anticipated benefits from the “24/7” access to government services. Two in five (41%) respondents said the use of virtual agents would reduce their need to wait for a human customer service agent to become available to assist them.
However, only one in seven survey respondents (16%) have used virtual agents in their interactions with government agencies, and fewer than half of them said the agent was effective in meeting their needs (44%) and that they were satisfied with their experience (41%).
“Unfortunately, early investments in chatbots generally haven’t delivered the transformation that government agencies expected — often because agencies didn’t fully consider a citizen’s experience in engaging with a chatbot or what activities a chatbot is capable of undertaking to support the mission of the organization,” Darmon said. “That said, our research found that citizens support the use of advanced AI-enabled virtual agents by government agencies. Clearly, an opportunity exists for governments to use virtual agents to broaden their services and enhance customer experience.”
When asked about their service expectations from government, respondents most often cited ease of access to their personal information (74%), a quick response time to their queries (73%), increased visibility into the progression of their application through its administrative stages (64%) and to engage with knowledgeable (66%) and friendly (55%) customer service agents.
- Respondents from Singapore were the most likely to be satisfied with the government agencies they engaged with over the last year, with 54% of them citing satisfaction with their interactions, and respondents in Japan were the least likely to be satisfied with the quality of interaction they received, with only one in five (20%) citing satisfaction.
- The vast majority (88%) of respondents from Norway and Finland are willing to share their personally identifiable information with a government department in exchange for a more personalized customer service experience. Just over three-fourths (79%) of respondents from the U.S. felt the same.
- More than half (56%) of respondents in Finland were comfortable with their personal information being shared between government agencies if it would enhance customer service. This contrasts with just one-fifth (20%) of respondents from Japan.
- The respondents most likely to have interacted with virtual assistants during their government interactions were those in Finland, at 33%, whereas those in Japan were the least likely to have interacted with government-deployed virtual assistants, at just 4%.
- Respondents in Canada were the most likely to be positive about the use of virtual agents by government agencies, with 60% of them positive about such use, whereas those in Austria were the least likely to be positive about virtual agents (26%).
- Three out of five respondents (59%) in Australia who have used virtual agents in their interaction with the government were satisfied with the interaction. This contrasts with respondents from Norway, where just one in four respondents (24%) was satisfied with the experience.
Accenture surveyed 6501 citizens aged 18 or older in 11 countries: Austria, Australia, Canada, Germany, Finland, France, the United Kingdom, Japan, Norway, Singapore and the United States. Respondents were asked about their interactions with various government agencies, their level of satisfaction regarding those interactions, factors important to them with regards to the delivery of government services, and the use of virtual agents offered by public-sector agencies. The survey was undertaken in collaboration with McGuire in September and October 2019. Results for the full global sample are statistically significant with a confidence level of 95% and a margin of error of +/- 1.215 percentage points.
Accenture is a leading global professional services company, providing a broad range of services and solutions in strategy, consulting, digital, technology and operations. Combining unmatched experience and specialized skills across more than 40 industries and all business functions — underpinned by the world’s largest delivery network — Accenture works at the intersection of business and technology to help clients improve their performance and create sustainable value for their stakeholders. With 505,000 people serving clients in more than 120 countries, Accenture drives innovation to improve the way the world works and lives. Visit us at www.accenture.com.