eGovernment services in Switzerland: why customer experience is key to success

Trust plays a primary role in the acceptance of e-Government services by citizens. In this article, we indicate how trust can be built within the Swiss population by driving customer experience.

A recent Deloitte global study on the current state of customer experience (CX) in government has found that putting people first to deliver a seamless government customer experience reinforces the trust and belief of citizens in their government’s competence and intent. According to the study, governments across the world can improve their public services by viewing them from the perspective of the citizen/customer, finding new service delivery models and transforming their operations. More funding and technology will be needed, however, to improve digital services. Findings from the Deloitte Swiss Digital Government Study 2021 support these recommendations for improving public services, and suggest how to build trust in eGovernment services in Switzerland.

The global CX study emphasises the need to focus on citizens rather than on government and to improve the customer experience. It identifies the main areas for potential improvement as citizen/customer satisfaction, efficiency and effectiveness. Digital technologies, behavioural insights, and new management tools also play an important role in enhancing customer experience. Since digital is a first point of interaction for government with citizens, a positive online experience with secure and user-friendly services will be an important prerequisite for gaining trust and driving further adoption of eGovernment services.

The global CX study strongly emphasised the need for better customer data analytics to guide governments in developing new digital services. In Switzerland, customers increasingly expect flexibility with regard to time and location as well as speed (70% of Swiss citizens regard both flexibility and speed as important user needs). The Deloitte Swiss Digital Government Study 2021 also expresses a need for centralised solutions. Swiss citizens would prefer the convenience of uniform solutions for the whole of Switzerland, as opposed to having services that differ between individual cantons. Uniform solutions are preferred especially for digital solutions such as electronic identity services, the population register and services relating to vehicles. To improve CX, new solutions are needed to replace traditional forms of identity such as current passports and social security cards, that can be used for digital as well as physical transactions. On the topic of identity, the "Once Only" principle is regarded as essential to avoid the need for citizens to repeat communicating data for different government services.

The global CX study revealed that finding new service delivery models will be key for a successful transformation in services that cuts costs, builds trust and reduces the time required for online transactions. To achieve this transformation, it will be necessary to shift the perception of customer experience amongst managers from a compliance focus to seeing the customer at the heart of government services. Culture and mindsets in government will also need to change to transform the customer experience. The Deloitte Swiss Digital Government Study 2021 found that driving digitalisation and creating new digital services is not only about technology, but is also about people and their development, and a mindset shift in public administration is needed. A change in attitudes and behaviours will be needed amongst public sector employees in order to harness fully the technology for new digital services and to facilitate better interactions with citizens.

To overcome the hurdles and enable a successful transformation government will need to invest in customer facing and technical infrastructure. From a qualitative perspective this will include more human-centred system design and from a quantitative perspective better data and analytics. Better data can also drive better design. According to the global CX study, budget constraints and outdated technology remain the main barriers to improving customer experience in eGovernment services. This means that investment in new technologies and in training and developing public sector employees will be crucial. The Deloitte Swiss Digital Government Study 2021 results reinforce the importance of dedicated budgets for new technologies. Learning agile and new ways of working, and learning new systems and tools (for example, workflow systems, software robots, digital processing, web forms, and e-payments) were regarded by respondents as the most important methods to improve and increase digitalisation within public administration and to engage successfully with citizens/customers.

However, as the global CX study points out, although new technologies can help lay the foundation for better services, on their own they will not improve the customer experience. The same holds true for public administration in Switzerland. Sustained leadership, engaged employees and appropriate digital governance will together help put citizens at the centre of government services.

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