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TAKE-UP OF ONLINE SERVICES A REAL CHALLENGE FOR THE UK

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'GOVERNMENT IT STRATEGY SET TO DELIVER'...
'GOVERNMENT IT STRATEGY SET TO DELIVER'

The UK is on the verge of a dramatic advancement in the provision of government services to its citizens, according to an Accenture study released today.

The potential for significant progress is linked to the transformational government strategy, but Accenture warns that the challenge is now how the government implements of the strategy.

This is the key UK finding from Accenture's annual leadership in customer service report into government services. The report showcases insights from in-depth interviews with 45 high-ranking government executives from the 11 countries that consistently top Accenture's annual survey of governments' use of technology in customer service: Canada, the United States, Denmark, Singapore, Australia, France, Japan, Norway, Finland, the UK and Ireland.

For the UK, the transformational government strategy reflects a critical shift to a view of technology as an enabler and acknowledges the important structural/governance changes which must occur in tandem to close the gap between service provision and service value for citizens.

The strategy makes clear that government agencies should offer a choice of delivery channels, with particular attention given to internet, telephone and mobile technologies. It also suggests how the channels could be used more efficiently

As part of the overall research, Accenture also conducts a citizen's survey amongst UK taxpayers, which backed up the strategy. The survey confirmed that it's not just online that matters. UK citizens value telephone, post and face-to-face contact over the internet.

- 28 per cent of UK population have visited a government website in past 12 months

- It is the most preferred method of government contact amongst 18-34 year olds - helping government to interact with this group

- Mobile channel appeal is growing - particularly amongst under 50s eg some government services that can be conducted over the internet.

Demand for investment is in:

- Walk-in centres

- Telephone services

- Internet

Most used communication method

- Over the past 12 months, landline telephone was the most used method of contacting with government by UK citizens (77 per cent)

- Post/ mail was the second most used (46 per cent), followed by face-to-face (25 per cent), internet (21 per cent), email/ mobile text (14 per cent) and mobile telephone (12 per cent)

Most preferred communication method

- Landline telephone is also the most preferred method of communicating with government, with 67 per cent stating that they like to use the telephone

Service level expectations

- However, despite it being the most preferred communication method, citizens also have the worst expectation of the government's landline telephone service (17 per cent)

- The best level of service is expected from having face-to-face contact (33 per cent)

The global study revealed several key findings emerged from the in depth interviews:

- Governments that are considered customer service leaders are: (1) introducing services on a par with the best of the private sector, using a range of technologies - from text messaging and mobile applications to kiosks and interactive voice response - to provide unique and interesting services; (2) advancing by putting in place new modes of operation that vary dramatically from the past, including strong new organizational designs, relentless simplification, business reengineering, consolidation, and forays into shared services; and (3) using a combination of four proactive tactics to drive implementation and adoption of their service strategies - the 'stick,' the 'carrot,' marketing pull and high-touch push.

- Governments are at a critical juncture for service success because they have 'reached the limit' with their current approaches to customer service and are re-assessing and re-crafting their customer service strategies to create lasting value.

- Today's customer service leaders won't necessarily be tomorrow's customer service leaders because of the dynamic and constantly changing nature of leading service practices. Remaining in a leadership position in the future will depend upon governments' ability to adapt to change and address new challenges.

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David Wilkins, global managing director of sales and innovation for Accenture's government operating group, said:

'We delved deeply into what contributed to countries' world-leading service programs - addressing both challenges and keys to success.

'The value in this year's study is in the chronicling of the leading practices -anecdotes and lessons learned - of the countries that routinely perform well in our annual study of governments? use of technology.'

Teresa Bozzelli, industry analyst and managing director of Government Insights, an IDC company, said:

'Around the world, citizen satisfaction and overall confidence in government's ability to deliver improved services- from benefit awareness to registration, distribution of benefits, and the delivery of services- is at risk of data integrity/theft, and of not meeting citizen location and convenience demands. Governments must create a dynamic, safe, infrastructure and securely integrate consumer information to confidently deliver on the promise of uncompromised information and complete services.'

The full report is available here.

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