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Research from KANA Software highlights surprisingly low adoption of self-service technologies by governments; the average consumer has become multichannel but governments have not

The latest research commissioned by customer service specialists KANA Software reveals government agencies worldwide are at least one step behind consumer’s technology requirements.

 According to international public sector research by KANA, only half (52 percent) of government agencies and councils currently offer a self-service support route, and at best, these apply to less than one quarter of their services. The absence of self-help options places a huge burden on call centres and email management – and on the patience of citizens.

 KANA research found that nearly one-third (31 percent) of respondents plan to implement additional Web self-service technologies in the next 12 to 18 months, less than one-fifth (17 percent) plan Web-based FAQs and only 16 percent a Web-searchable knowledge base. Two in five expressed hope that up to half of their services will be provided via self-service options in the next 12 to 18 months.

 “The data shows governments are behind the curve on creating self-service options for citizens, but what they don’t recognize is how far behind they are,” said David Moody, head of worldwide product development for KANA. “Self-service capabilities are essential in any support strategy, but citizens are now looking beyond it to what might better be described as ‘selfish service’ – that is, services geared directly to each citizen’s preferred channels.”

 KANA advises government departments to accelerate digital technology adoption or risk failing to meet citizen expectations.

 “In the past decade, the conventional sequence of tech adoption has changed,” added Moody. “Previously, businesses would adopt a technology and it would eventually be adopted by consumers. If we think about social media, the opposite has happened. The average UK consumer, for example, uses more than five different types of electronic communication and most organisations do not cover as many. This places huge pressures on public sector organisations that are approached from every direction for assistance. Many simply have not modernised their technology or processes to cope.”

 Ninety percent of respondents said one of the biggest obstacles to implementing new technology was funding, although three-quarters (74  percent) of respondents had a positive outlook on technology investments and believed they could improve service and help save money.

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