Digital Building Block I: user insights to attract and retain citizens to eGovernment services


Niels van der Linden

October 11, 2016

In the previous blog post I captured the current state of play as regards digital transformation of public authorities and introduced our Capgemini & MIT Framework for Digital Transformation. This blog post zooms into the first (of three) digital building blocks: user insights.

Making choices is not always easy. Information helps. If you’re at the foot of a mountain, most of the times you can’t see the summit. So unless there is a sign that clearly informs you how long the trip will take, which route you’ll have to follow and how many meters you’ll have to climb – it is difficult to make a balanced choice. You could end up halfway, exhausted and disorientated, or perhaps you don’t even make the try but retreat to the nearest tourist office. Attracting users to eGovernment services works in similar fashion. It helps if duration, process steps, response times are transparent for the user. It helps of this information is easily accessible, for instance on your mobile device when on the train heading for an office day. It would be even better if that particular service can be completed online, saving you the time to travel to the local authorities or post office. Unfortunately for many Europeans this is only a reality when shopping online, but not for eGovernment services. Our latest eGovernment Benchmark finds that:

  • Information about the service process is provided in 47% of online services; only 3 countries achieve a score above 75%.
  • Only 1 in 3 public websites is mobile friendly; while nearly 278 million Europeans access the internet through a mobile device.
  • 60% of public services in Europe are fully online available (or automated). There still are gaps in each user journey undertaken in the life events under assessment;

Users choosing for eGovernment services return the investment for governments. Successfully attracting more citi­zens and businesses to the online channel for public services will contribute to user empower­ment and to the digital business case. The digital building block of user insight offers three conditions that contribute to this goal.

■  Put user understanding in the centre of service delivery and ap­ply analytics to drive continuous improvement. Design online services from the outside in. Re-use data to reduce burdens. Use data and analyt­ics to improve the service portfolio. What do you really know about your users’ needs? Do you know which services are most fit for digital? With which frequency and volume services are used? Which services us­ers consider to be most burdensome? What is most searched for on your website and on search engines? The benchmark found that on average only 1 in 3 services that deliver a kind of permit for citizens and businesses is fully online, whereas this could be a very simple service to put online.
A good practice in this regard is that Swedish agencies seek to reduce ‘fail­ure demand’ by helping citizens at first contact. Upon noticing many citizens were not served at their first contact, and consequently new attempts were made to get an answer which demanded unnecessary government resources, they have now found new and lean ways to organise the process and save tax-payers money[1].

Improve compliance/accountability by opening up to the public. This is about building trust. Citizens expect clarity on how their personal data is used by public authorities, and how se­cure that data is. Increase transparency about your organisation’s performance and pro-actively open up information and data. In the context of service delivery processes be clear about the service levels you aim for and to what extent they are met in practice. Have you set such service standards, and published them so users understand what to expect?

Ensure accessibility and support for all through access points. This build­ing block is about multichannel access. It is also about support. Fast and transpar­ent problem resolution builds trust for users. We see an increasing number of countries opening up dedicated citizen access points to facilitate users without access or skills to be part of the digital economy. Online portals are another way to inform and guide users to the information or service they need. These have advanced over the years as our measurement shows. But is your portal also easily accessible for mobile devices or have you designed specific apps to facilitate citizens (e.g. like Portugal[2] realised for employment services in a mobile app)? Have you experienced with ‘customer care’ using social media? Are you reducing government to citizen communication on paper, e.g. by using digital post as in Denmark[3] who in doing so also realise 100 million of savings per year?

More than a decade ago, the private sector discovered customer relation­ship management – the use of digital technologies to integrate all aspects of a firm’s interaction with a customer to improve personalised communication and provide real-time information so that customers can track the status of their service requests. Governments have only recently discovered this management approach, with most innovation in cities in the developed countries[4]. Picture yourself again at the foot of that mountain: unless you’re an adventurous thrill seeker, a government that understands your needs is essential to allow you to save time, money and enjoy flexibility of services.

This blog post is the second in a series of blogs that puts the results of the eGovernment Benchmark in the context of digital transformation of public sector. The following blogs will handle the digital building blocks ‘operational processes’ and ‘new organisational models’ and address skills as thé prerequisite for public sector to advance.

[1] From:



[4] Digital Dividends, World Bank, 2016. Chapter 3: delivering services. Online available here:

This article was written by Niels van der Linden from Capgemini: Capping IT Off and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.

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