Government services heading in right direction to meet Aussie needs, engagement and responsiveness top list - PwC Australia’s Citizen Survey 2022

  • 81% of citizens using government services expect requests to be resolved in one interaction
  • 85% or more rank speed, simplicity, convenience, transparency and security as priorities
  • 36% agree digital government services has positively impacted their trust in government
  • 43% of people agree that digital services have helped them feel connected
  • Consolidation of channels to access government services is key to eliminating confusion

A new survey from PwC Australia shows citizens value engagement and responsiveness from government now more than ever, and their expectations are high. PwC’s Centre for Citizen Research surveyed over 1,000 Australians to gauge attitudes, trust in government, and experiences of government services. PwC Australia’s Citizen Survey 2022 revealed governments are heading in the right direction when it comes to meeting citizens’ needs and can maintain this trajectory by promoting engagement, supporting digital inclusion and, ultimately, fostering trust.

When it came to using government services, 81% of citizens said they expect requests to be resolved in a single interaction and more than 85% ranked speed, simplicity, convenience, transparency and security as priorities. Findings from the survey also indicate that citizen engagement is high and they want to be actively involved. More people interacted with a federal or state government service in the past three months than compared to June 2020 and around one in four respondents have provided feedback to government services in the past 12 months. This was substantially higher among those aged 25-34 years (32%), and those of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander origin (62%).

The survey found that overall, 70% of Australians want to engage in the development of government services. One in five citizens wants to be personally informed of service development plans and progress; and one in three wants the ability to access information if desired. This holds across federal, state and local governments. Citizens who give feedback have significantly higher overall trust in government institutions, as do citizens who receive a response from government outlining ‘next steps’. This demonstrates the importance not just of giving feedback, but of explaining the ‘why’ and ‘what next’ of a situation.

Diane Rutter, PwC Australia Partner for Customer Experience and Insights, said, “Citizens have shown they want to actively engage with governments and be kept in the loop when it comes to government plans. Governments have progressed towards integrating real-time feedback with ‘have your say’ initiatives, however, the challenge is how to constantly find the capacity to provide timely and informative responses to citizens. There’s an opportunity to better use the knowledge and capability that exists within government systems to increase engagement and responsiveness to meet or exceed citizens’ expectations.”

Digital channels are boosting inclusion and trust

The use of digital services increased significantly in the past 18 months, particularly in NSW and Victoria, and especially in metropolitan regions, where roughly 45% of citizens reported an increase in use of digital channels. More than one third of respondents (36%) agreed that government institutions are proactive in digitising services and processes and, more importantly, that their experience of government online services has positively impacted their trust in government institutions (36%).

However, digital progress appears to be slower in regional areas. The use of digital channels increased among residents of regional Australia, yet the rate of uptake is slower than for metropolitan areas - 34% reported increased use in regional areas, compared to 43% in metropolitan areas and only 14% said their digital experiences have been better compared to pre-COVID conditions versus 23% for metropolitan residents.

At a time when people are feeling more isolated than ever, 43% agreed that digital services have helped them feel connected. COVIDsafe check-in experiences also appeared to have had a positive effect, and government efforts to digitise services are improving system experiences. Almost half of the survey’s respondents (48%) agreed that digitisation of COVID-19 vaccination certificates has positively impacted their perceptions of government services.

Ms Rutter said citizens’ digital experiences with government institutions are generally good - driving trust, fostering inclusion and effectively demonstrating proactive initiatives of government.

“Government digital investment is paying off. Efforts to digitise services are having a positive impact on citizens’ experiences and their sense of connectedness. Again, this is fostering trust and more can be done to bring all citizens along on the digital journey. Crucially, digital services are making many people feel connected. However, there’s still a way to go. Citizens won’t embrace services unless they’re sure their data is secure.”

Almost 80% of citizens expect government to use and store personal data ethically and securely (and this rose to 90% for those who have high trust in government). Yet, only 38% are more comfortable sharing their data online than attending government services in person and this has not improved over time (26% in June 2020).

Consolidation is key to managing the digital ecosystem

While there has been an upswing in new services and channels, findings from the survey suggested citizens are showing signs of overload. The survey found citizens are using a range of channels to access services and 46% believe the increased range of channels makes the process of accessing government services more confusing than ever before, up from 40% in June 2020.

Within those channels, some citizens reported feeling overwhelmed by navigational issues. Thirty-seven percent said they find it difficult to navigate government services now that more processes are digital, while only 44% feel they can find help if they have difficulty using digital systems. However, there was a demographic divide when it came to opinions around navigation - younger citizens, residents of NSW, and those employed full time are more likely to report ‘easy’ navigation. In contrast, business owners and self-employed citizens are more likely to find navigation ‘difficult’.

Adam Lai, PwC Australia Partner and global head of front office transformation, said, “While governments are already working hard to foster trust, there’s a need to drive more personalised services and sources of truth. Also, to integrate these elements in response to hyper-localisation. The majority of citizens want connected services and identified this as an important aspect of interacting with government services.

“Government would be well placed to focus on personalisation and consolidation. Much of this consolidation should focus on simplifying channels, including creating integrated channels to leverage existing platforms and avoid duplication. At the same time, the government should cast a critical eye over legacy brands, channels, apps and services, and remove any that are outmoded to create a truly seamless end-to-end citizen experience.”

The PwC Australia Citizen Survey 2022 and report draws on the findings of its citizen ‘pulse check’ surveys, which are designed to help inform government service delivery requirements.

PwC’s Centre for Citizen Research surveyed a large, representative sample of Australians to gauge attitudes, trust in government, and experiences of government services. The survey was conducted in 2018, twice in 2020 (June and October), and then again in January 2022, providing a barometer for citizen sentiment before, and during, the COVID-19 pandemic.

To view the PwC Australia’s Citizen Survey 2022, click here.

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