How to keep a human touch as government services go digital

Manish Malhotra, Head of UK Utilities, Infosys, explores how government can keep a human touch to its services as they go digital

During the pandemic, technology provided millions of people with a lifeline, allowing them to continue to work, socialize and access the life-saving services they need. However, despite the range of benefits that digital services have brought to so many of us, new research has found that while the use of technology by many people has increased during this time, nothing has happened. really compares to face-to-face human interaction.

As organizations around the world pursue and embrace digital transformation – efforts that have undoubtedly been accelerated by the pandemic – it’s important to examine how these services can maintain a human feel while continuing to innovate and achieve new results. efficiency targets.

According to the recent Infosys report on the future of digital government services in the UK, eight in ten people accessed digital government services during the pandemic, demonstrating the dependence of many citizens on these services. Surprisingly, it was also found that people over 54 were the most likely to communicate only through digital means, accounting for 36% and challenging common misconceptions about using digital services by age. An equally significant 28% of those polled said that even though they primarily use digital services, they still prefer human interaction when it is available.

This information highlights the role digital government services played in people’s lives during the pandemic. As organizations look to continue their digital transformation, or perhaps embark on their digital transformation journey for the first time, it is clear that it is essential to put people at the heart of every digital platform, from the design phase to the direct deployment of a digital service. .

Empathy and AI

Importantly, only 4% of those surveyed said they would never consider using digital services, proving that there is a widespread desire to take a blended approach. The results showed that empathy is of utmost importance to users, with 51% of them saying it’s important that the digital experiences they experience are human. One solution that is evolving to meet this requirement is conversational AI, which is becoming increasingly sophisticated.

AI-powered chatbots are starting to demonstrate the effectiveness of technology in user experience journeys, but we can expect conversational AI to become an integral part of universal interfaces. These interfaces will be specifically designed to manage query responses dynamically, allowing governments to create more accessible platforms.

While AI cannot replace human interaction, there is great potential in its ability to converse and exhibit knowledge in a “human” way. Our research found that 71% of those surveyed appreciated a more interactive approach, meaning that a smart chatbot with empathetic traits and abilities would likely be an effective solution.

A conversational AI solution can also serve as a way to encourage those who are currently reluctant to engage with digital government services. The more “human” approach and the ability to ask questions in a natural way is an effective way to give confidence to users who are less tech-savvy. Our research supports this perspective, with 83% of respondents believing that digital government services would attract people with low digital skills more if they were easier to use.

Digital inclusivity

Ensuring that digital services take into account the diverse needs and capabilities of users is also essential for maintaining human contact, along with the need for empathetic technology. The absence of these considerations means that communities needing the most support are at the greatest risk of falling behind. The recent Infosys study reveals that 86% of people believe that better access is needed for those who live in remote areas, a statistic that provides insight into a user group disadvantaged by existing digital services.

Inclusiveness could also be improved by introducing a wider range of languages ​​into existing digital government services, with 63% of respondents believing that more options should be available. This is especially the case among foreign-born users, with 72% of users in this category stressing the need for change.

The pandemic has highlighted the need for digital government services to be more inclusive, with people with disabilities, the elderly and those with lower digital confidence suffering the most. Research found that 58% of respondents who identify as disabled suggested the need for more people-centered solutions, with an emphasis on reduced complexity. It is of paramount importance that these users have access to human interactions, ensuring that a hybrid approach is used to provide both efficiency and high quality service.

The path to follow

Above all, digital government services need to be designed to feel human, as half of the UK’s population demand it. On top of that, 49% of respondents believe digital government services could be improved by making experiences look and feel better, mimicking successful private sector websites. This result highlights the extent of the work that government needs to do to provide positive user journeys.

The government would gain enormously from adopting a data-driven approach, fueled by a large sample of comments from UK residents. Once this information is generated, a series of challenges could be addressed in identifying the digital experiences that most require a human touch. This can then be addressed either by improving access to human interactions or by implementing more sophisticated conversational AI technologies that deliver a natural and ’empathic’ experience.

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