Channel preference

In this section

Insights

  • Customers were often happy to find information online, but often wanted to transact in person.
  • Channel choice was not determined by demographics, but behaviours and context; although customers may have a high digital propensity they often deferred to non-digital channels for reassurance or acknowledgment of receipt.
  • Sixty-nine per cent of respondents who did not complete transactions digitally would be happy to use the digital channel for simple transactions.

Nb. It should be noted that the preferences captured through the quantitative work are generic channel preferences, rather than being tied to a particular service.

Channel preference and the need for reassurance 

When dealing with government agencies, customers want to know that they are doing the right thing. Of respondents to the main telephone survey, 52 per cent agreed they spent a lot of time checking and asking questions to make sure they were doing everything right.

This need for reassurance often manifested itself in a preference for dealing with government agencies in person, rather than through digital channels. Customer-facing staff themselves reported that the most common questions they were asked was if an application had been received and how long an application would take to process. They also offered help on a very practical level, such as help filling out forms and explaining government language, and letting customers know what would happen next.

Confusion about eligibility 

Customers often expressed confusion about their eligibility and entitlements. This was revealed in both the qualitative and quantitative work. Often customers resolved this by speaking with customer-facing staff, and this is why participants often preferred to deal with agencies in person. For example, one student noted if you dealt with agencies in person “You can say, ‘I was talking to them before’”. In person contact offered them a reference point if in future they were given conflicting information or enquired about the status of their application. Similar confusion often existed around obligations, and again speaking with an agency representative (either by telephone or in person) was one way to resolve the confusion.

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The perception of complex transactions

Tied into the need for in person reassurance was the perception that transactions were complex, and, specifically, too complex to be completed digitally. Although transactions are often considered straightforward by government agencies, they could be daunting for customers unfamiliar with the process. This was particularly true of participants we spoke to about life events who were often dealing across multiple agencies.

Using digital for simple transaction 

However, a promising statistic to emerge from the research was that 69 per cent of non-digital channel users would be happy to use digital channels for simple transactions. However, what is considered simple differs between customers and agencies.

18% of respondents were not able to use their preferred channel to complete transactions with government 

               

Figure 21. Unmet demand for preferred channel - to complete transactions

18 per cent of respondents were not able to use their preferred channel to complete transactions with government

         

37 per cent of respondents currently used the internet to complete transactions with government. 46 per cent of respondents had a preference for using the internet to complete transactions with government.52 per cent of respondents currently dealt with government in-person to complete transactions with government. 44 per cent of respondents had a preference for dealing with government in-person to complete transactions with government.4 per cent of respondents currently used the telephone to complete transactions with government. 4 per cent of respondents had a preference for using the telephone to complete transactions with government.5 per cent of respondents currently used mail to complete transactions with government. 4 per cent of respondents had a preference for using mail to complete transactions with government

9% Additional preference for Online

8% Less preference for Face-to-Face 

1% Less preference for Mail

Unmet demand for transacting

Figure 21, shows unmet channel preference. The quantitative research found that 18 per cent of respondents were not able to use their preferred channel to complete transactions. There was greater demand for digital - with 46 per cent of respondents preferring this channel, compared to 37 per cent that used it currently. There was less demand for in person and mail channels. However, the unmet demand was not straightforward. For example, the four per cent of respondents who used the telephone to transact were not necessarily the same four per cent who preferred the telephone. Rather, the respondents who preferred the telephone were currently using a variety of channels. A fuller set of statistics for unmet demand is available on request.

Research limitations 

It should also be noted that one of the limitations of this section of the research is that the quantitative findings reflect respondents’ general preference for transacting with government, rather than a preference tied to a specific transaction.

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Digital behaviours for private sector transactions

Customers are more likely to transact with the private sector online than they are with the public sector. While 37 per cent of respondents transacted with government digitally, 73 per cent transacted with banks online and/or booked travel online. This was also evident amongst the participants of the qualitative research. For example, while the students we spoke with were generally high users of social media and had multiple devices, for dealing with government they often used a greater mix of channels to complete a single transaction.

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28% of respondents were not able to use their preferred channel to seek information from the government

Figure 22. Unmet demand for preferred channel - to seek information

 

28 per cent of all respondents were not able to use their preferred channel to seek information from government                     

50 per cent of respondents currently used the internet to seek information from government. 47 per cent of respondents had a preference for using the internet to seek information from government.12 per cent of respondents currently sought information in-person. 23 per cent of respondents had a preference for seeking information in-person.35 per cent of respondents currently used the telephone to seek information from government. 28 per cent of respondents had a preference for using the telephone to seek information from government.  

 

11% Additional preference for Face-to-Face

3% Less preference for Internet

7% Less preference for Phone

Seeking information

Figure 22, shows channel preference for seeking information. The survey also included three statements exploring the extent to which respondents felt they had been successful in finding information from government (across all channels). For each question, the majority of respondents reported that the last time they enquired about government requirements or services:

  • The information they had sought had been where they expected to find it (58 per cent)
  • They had been able to find useful information (58 per cent)
  • Information was easy to find (57 per cent)

Demographic variables

However, the success in finding information about government varied significantly amongst income and educational demographics:

  • Amongst those with household incomes below $20,000, 36 per cent were able to find the information they wanted quickly the last time they got information from government, 43 per cent reported that the information was where they expected to find it and 42 per cent felt that they found useful information.
  • Of those with household incomes over $150,000, 61 per cent said that they were able to find the information they wanted quickly, 64 per cent said that the information was where they expected to find it and 70 per cent considered that they found useful information.
  • Amongst those with secondary qualifications or less, 48 per cent were able to find the information they wanted quickly the last time they got information from government, 55 per cent said that the information was where they expected to find it and 52 per cent believed that that they found useful information.

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Page last updated: 08/04/2015