The COVID-19 pandemic has caused millions of Canadians to access the services they need online. Now, a growing number also want more digital options for fast, easy access to public services – from connecting with a government agency to address a specific question, to managing COVID-19 vaccine appointments. The demand for digitally accessing government services is higher than ever, and it’s here to stay. A new survey commissioned by ServiceNow reveals if given the choice, at least two-thirds of Canadians prefer to access services digitally, across federal (69%), provincial (70%) and municipal services (65%).
Results from ServiceNow’s Citizen Experience in Canada Report, which polled 1,500 Canadian adults, reveals the shift in expectation as 3 in 4 (74%) say the pandemic has made them more open to accessing government services digitally. Delivering great experiences matter, as more than half of Canadians say positive experiences with public services improve their overall perceptions of government (61%) and increase the likelihood they will have future interactions with government agencies (56%).
However, access to public services is a challenge for nearly half (46%) of Canadians who rely on someone else to help them navigate government systems. Among those who rely on someone else to handle public service processes for them, 3 in 10 (28%) need help because the process is too complicated, while another 2 in 10 (18%) say they do not know how to do it or where to go.
Simplicity and accessibility are key to adoption of public services
For Canadians who have had difficult experiences with government services, it is often a matter of starting off on the wrong foot. Six in 10 (62%) Canadians faced challenges with public services before the process even started, as they had trouble making contact with the correct government department to address their needs. This is a result of outdated and complex systems; not being able to get through phone lines (52%), unable to locate correct information (25%), and getting bounced around to different departments (24%).
The opportunity comes down to simplicity. More than 8 in 10 (84%) Canadians believe that their experience navigating and accessing government services would be simplified if more digital options were available. Eight in 10 feel the experience would be improved through greater use of automation (77%) and live chat functions (77%), while nearly three quarters (74%) say their experience could be streamlined through mobile-friendly options.
It’s also important to Canadians that digital services offered by the government are easy to use and fast. For example, Digital Identity is a secure way of loading personal identification into a centralized digital wallet. While this is viewed as an emerging concept for accessing public services, 8 in 10 (82%) Canadians believe it is convenient and would make accessing public services faster (81%) and simpler (78%).
Vaccine rollout highlights digital opportunities for public services
When it comes to accessing critical services such as COVID-19 vaccines, digital workflows have a big role to play in supporting the processes and infrastructure needed to vaccinate people quickly. Close to 3 in 4 (72%) Canadians believe the increased use of digital tools could improve confidence in the government’s vaccine rollout efforts, including:
- Allowing citizens to book their vaccine appointment online (65%).
- Providing digital tools that will help medical staff with booking vaccine appointments for the public (45%).
- Providing digital tools that will help medical staff with the day-to-day logistics of the vaccination process, such as employee staffing and other administrative tasks (38%).
More details about the survey findings can be found here.