New South Wales led the way in improving digital government services across Australia during the pandemic, according to a new report by Salesforce which calls for more government data sharing and personalisation of services.
The CRM provider, which counts several Australian governments as clients, commissioned Boston Consulting Group to complete a report based on a survey of 3,000 people across Australia and New Zealand and interviews with 24 “government leaders and independent experts”.
The results point to at least slight gains in the quality of digital services over the last 12 months, along with what Salesforce claimed is a commensurate lift in trust in government, and a desire from citizens for more personalisation.
According to the results, 39 per cent of Australians’ most recent interaction with digital government was at least “somewhat better” than the one prior. More than 50 per cent of resondents reported it being approximately the same while only 6 per cent said it was worse.
At a state level, NSW was “the stand-out”, recording the highest increase with 45 per cent of respondents saying digital services had improved at least slightly. It was followed by Victoria (40 per cent) Queensland, South Australia and Northern Territory (each 38 per cent), Western Australia (37 per cent) and the Australian Capital Territory and Tasmania (both 36 per cent).
The report also suggested citizens want more proactive, tailored, and personalised service engagement and delivery.
A quarter of respondents said they want their government interactions “tailored” to their situation based only on general information and advice. A further 39 per cent want it tailored only on what a government knows about “people like me”.
Only a quarter want the services tailored based on what the government knows about a specific citizen. Just 12 per cent would be happy for governments to use the private sector’s data to tailor services.
Asked about personalising services to their specific “situation”, most respondents agreed that would greatly improve the service. This is evidence of customers’ desire for more personalisation, according to the report.
The report has been released in the same week as Salesforce’s annual event and a major government services summit in Canberra. It also comes just days ahead of a final report from the Senate inquiry into legislation for the federal government’s controversial data sharing scheme.
The government argues the scheme would create a “new path” for data sharing between agencies, departments and private sector organisations, and lead to improved service delivery.
However, the Senate inquiry has heard expert warnings about the dangers of inter-agency and private sector data sharing and criticised the haste of the federal government’s latest legislation, which removes consent requirements and has been criticised by security and privacy advocates.
Salesforce claimed its survey shows Australians are more than comfortable with governments data sharing and most think services would be “greatly improved if they were personalised to my specific situation”.
Respondents also reported their experiences with digital government services led to a greater trust in government, which Salesforce argued is a causal link.
More than half of those surveyed said their trust in government had increased in the last year, though most of those said it was only a slight increase. Nearly 40 per cent said their trust in governments had stayed the same, while 8 per cent reported a downturn.
Last year the Australian Information and Privacy Commissioner surveyed Australian’s attitudes to privacy across a range of issues, including data sharing by governments.
It found more Australians were uncomfortable with government agencies sharing their personal information (40 per cent) than those that were comfortable (36 per cent). Australians are far less likely to be comfortable with government agencies sharing their personal information with businesses in Australia (15 per cent comfortable, 70 per cent uncomfortable), according to the Privacy Commissioner’s survey.