Just to prove that the occasional thing from academia is worth reading, a recentish paper, which those without access to the British Library or similar may have trouble obtaining but well worth reading, comes from the School of Management at Surrey University.
Kolsaker, A., Lee-Kelley, L., (2007). “G2C e-government: modernisation of transformation?” Electronic Government, An International Journal, 4(1): 68-75.
The “G2C” in the title refers to “government to citizen” – note, not customer or anything else…
On page 7, they state –
“We would argue that the UK government in its haste to transform itself, has unwisely opted for quantitative (the number of online services) rather than qualitative (focusing on user experience) transformation.”
Which I wouldn’t argue against!
On page 72, we find:
“Although essentially a captive audience for the government, irate citizens can not only withdraw their participation, but their negative comments can deter others thinking of e-government engagement. It is imperative, therefore, that G2C offers users unambiguous, overt value and high quality service experience. Technology-enabled modernisation, therefore must offer not only modern technology, but a ‘modernised’ user-centric level of service.”
In the conclusion on page 74, they propose:
“If e-government services are to be citizen-centric and widely used, they must clearly be designed for the benefits of citizens, rather than simply for cost-cutting purposes. Many citizens, perhaps especially the old and the vulnerable may not embrace ‘modernisation’ as eagerly as governments. ‘Transformational government’ may, therefore, be a step too far for the majority of the public at this time. In our view, the emphasis should shift now to improving the functionality and quality of the existing online services and building up customer support for G2C e-service users – particularly the first-time or the uncertain user.”
Which agrees with what a few of us, crying out in the wilderness, have also been stating. Primarily, in my view, to focus on qualitative measures of service delivery, whilst at the same time improving services according to that citizen feedback.
It is also noticeable that Kolsaker and Lee-Kelley use the term “citizen” rather than “customer”…