Measuring trust in government digital services

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The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has demonstrated the importance of digital services in both the private and public sectors. Because of the coronavirus’ communicability, digital has become the only way to deliver services, and many governments across the globe have devoted resources to digitalise the benefits they provide.

To better understand people’s expectations of and experiences with government digital service delivery, Salesforce – the San Francisco, California-based software giant – and Boston Consulting Group (BCG) – a management consulting firm from Boston, Massachusetts – teamed up and surveyed 24,500 people across 36 countries on their use of digital channels for government services. It focused on the respondents’ expectations and perceptions of these digital services, and how their experiences have affected their trust in government.

Frontier Enterprise recently attended a virtual roundtable with Peter Schwartz, Senior Vice President of Strategic Planning and Chief Futures Officer at Salesforce, along with Miguel Carrasco, Managing Director and Senior Partner at Boston Consulting Group, where they discussed the report findings from a global as well as Singapore lens.

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Singapore findings

Here are some of the highlights of the findings, specifically for Singapore:

  • About 77% of Singapore respondents believe that a great digital experience has a positive impact on trust for the government. A similar percentage believe that a bad experience decreases trust.
  • 97% of respondents in Singapore expect government digital services to be as good as or better than banks, telcos, leading technology firms, or other leading governments. This shows that there’s considerable risk involved should governments get digital services wrong, or not provide it at all.
  • Singapore is one of the top performers when it comes to digital government services meeting customers’ needs with a +54% net perception.
  • However, the findings show that there is room for improvement. The survey found that 6 in 10 Singaporeans encountered at least some type of problem when accessing their digital service citing common problems such as:
    • Length or difficulty of the process – 21%
    • Technical difficulties or issues completing their request – 20%
    • No help available – 16%
    • Not having all the paperwork or information they needed – 16%
  • Globally, citizens are willing to share data if it benefits themselves or the community.
  • In general, customers in Singapore feel that the government is doing a good job of communicating the benefits of data sharing, with a net satisfaction of 50%. 

APAC views on government services

Results for Asia-Pacific countries are a bit more varied. According to the survey, satisfaction in APAC countries was “steady”, but “winners and losers” emerged.

Image courtesy of Boston Consulting Group

Meanwhile, net perception that needs are being met varies.

Image courtesy of Boston Consulting Group

Furthermore, most APAC citizens expect digital government services to perform at the standard of public and private sector digital leaders.

Image courtesy of Boston Consulting Group

Said BCG’s Carrasco: “When we add it all up, it’s quite a high bar that people have around their experience. A lot of those expectations are shaped by the experience that they have interacting with other digital services.”

“The results are encouraging in a sense that more than half of respondents say they’re comfortable for data to be shared and used if there’s a direct benefit to themselves, and that could be a more personalised experience,” he added.

“The one thing that unlocks the key to data sharing is how well governments are communicating those benefits,” said Carrasco. “What we know is citizens are more willing to share if there’s a clear, tangible, and immediate benefit to themselves or the community. But often, that benefit is not obvious and isn’t always very well explained. So governments need to do a better job of making the case and showing people what’s in it for them or what’s in it for their community for sharing/enabling data about them to be shared and used.”

Insight on trust

Salesforce’s Schwartz also opened up on the importance of trust. He shared that Marc Benioff, his organisation’s CEO, returned from the World Economic Forum with a profound insight: the world is experiencing a trust crisis.

“Every single one of the CEOs Marc talked to said that trust was their most important issue,” noted Schwartz. “Trust in their societies, employees, customers, and government – that the pandemic had put such a premium on the performance and behaviour of companies and government, that trust had risen to the top of the ladder for everyone.”

“It’s not only the pandemic; it’s also climate change. Do we trust governments? Do we trust companies to deal adequately with the crisis in climate change? We have the kids of the world led by Greta Thunberg demanding that we respond. Can we live up to the demand for trust in that regard? There is a global trust crisis and it’s being felt in many places, not just Singapore.”

Schwartz outlined several elements that governments should do to achieve trust.

  • “First, you have to build partnerships with local leaders, with business, with academia, and so on.”
  • “Secondly, it is speed and bias for action. We’re in a real crisis environment, and being able to move quickly and effectively is critical.”
  • “Third is personalisation. That is being able to communicate effectively personally, organise services personally, all of that ability to personalise these digital capabilities so that people feel not that they’re a number, but that they’re a human being. That the capabilities are uniquely tuned to their needs and situations.

“That’s where personal data comes in. By having that data, it becomes possible to tune those services and enable the performance of those services to be personalised to the individual citizen. That then goes back to transparency. In the absence of transparency, people won’t share their data that enables you to perform at a high level. That’s the loop of performance, transparency, and service delivery that enables trust to be built.”