Citizens’ most common CX frustrations – and how to tackle them

Citizens’ most common CX frustrations – and how to tackle them

5th March 2024 · Arvato · Blog

Richard Husband, Business Development Director, ArvatoConnect

Our new Digital Deficit report* found that improving the citizen experience (CX) was one of the top five areas where public sector organisations are focussing their transformation. 

But it also highlighted a critical missing step in transformation plans that could undermine these efforts.

The majority of public bodies (83%) aren’t seeking citizens’ feedback on what’s already working, and, perhaps most importantly, what’s not. 

Without this sort of insight, organisations are at risk of at best not making their citizen experience any better, and at worst, exacerbating existing frustrations. Here, we pinpoint where these CX bugbears lie, what the risks are for public bodies if they don’t take them into account, and what they can do to start addressing them.

Progress, on hold

In parallel with our Digital Deficit report, we commissioned a separate YouGov poll of UK adults** exploring citizens’ experience when engaging with government bodies – from central government departments to local authorities.

The results revealed that there certainly are existing frustrations with CX, and highlighted exactly what these were.

Nearly half (47%) of UK adults said they had experienced an issue when contacting a government body over the past year.

Those who had experienced a problem most frequently pointed to long hold and queuing times (55%).

This was closely followed by difficulty receiving human help when required (47%), slow response times to queries (46%) and then ‘looping’ (37%) – the teeth-pulling experience that many of us will be familiar with of being sent around and around the same list of support points or questions, without reaching a resolution. 

Why does this matter? Because, in addition to frustration simply being undesirable in any service interaction, it could significantly hamper the delivery of public services or programmes.

More than two in five (42%) citizens who have encountered an issue said the problem made them want to avoid contacting the department or authority again.

A further two-fifths (41%) said they’d advise others against doing the same.

With many departments and authorities having services that rely on effective engagement to meet their objectives or fulfil their briefs, these are issues that they can ill-afford to let linger.

how to tackle citizens' most common cx issues

Insight to action

Tackling these CX frustrations will be much be about process, as it will be about specific solutions.

One part of the puzzle will be following what we call the ‘Four Ds’ of effective digital transformation.

These are most basic, but essential, steps that any digital transformation project should follow.

‘Defining’ the transformation goal is the first stage. This relies on knowing what citizens want and precisely where issues like the above exist – exactly why a step like gathering feedback is so important.   

Once a definition is in place, organisations can then ‘design’ a solution that’s fit for purpose; ‘develop’ it so that it addresses their specific challenges and opportunities, such as the constraints of legacy systems; and then ‘deploy’ it – monitoring its performance to drive continuous improvement.

Another critical step will be having a solid data strategy – a plan for how to gather, channel and use data, securely.

This is something that our Digital Deficit research shows again is an often missed element of current digital transformation plans – two thirds (65%) of public bodies don’t have an overarching data strategy, and a similar proportion (68%) don’t feel confident they can protect this data once they have it.

Taken together, these elements – the insight-driven process of the Four Ds, and the presence of a solid data strategy – will provide the base from which organisations can start to deploy new technology and reimagine existing processes in a way that is most likely to deliver the right results.

Delivering informed solutions

What could this look like in practice?

Let’s take two of the above most-cited bugbears as an example – long queuing times and slow responses to queries.

If citizen feedback shows that these are issues for their specific organisation, then technology like chatbots and conversational AI might offer a powerful aid.

These follow rule-based processes to quickly manage simple queries in the same way that humans would – for example, confirming the status of a citizen’s application, the opening hours of a departmental office, or even help them determine if they’re eligible for certain services or support.

By enabling citizens to ‘self-serve’ in this way, it can almost instantly resolve certain types of inquiries.

The technology can be designed to only apply to certain types of queries or parts of the citizen journey, and – if supported by an effective data strategy – can work seamlessly alongside human agents.

It can automatically escalate issues to a human for resolution (helping prevent another problem of citizens not receiving human help when required), or augment an agent-led process – for example, by gathering simple demographic information from citizens while they queue to save time when their turn comes.

Similarly, ‘looping’ issues are something that can be addressed through a strong data strategy that defines how information is securely, quickly and efficiently carried from touchpoint to touchpoint within an organisation, or even across organisations, as a citizen moves through the citizen journey.

An organisation could further enhance its capabilities in tackling looping by using intelligent automation to consistently gather data submitted by citizens, store it in a central system, and then near-instantly recall it whenever it’s required, whether by a human agent or another tech solution, like a chatbot.

A digital pair of hands removes the need for human team members to do data collection and transfer manually – protecting their time for the most complex and valuable tasks.

Best foot forward

The ‘right’ end solution when it comes to addressing CX frustrations will vary from organisation to organisation, but focussing on the common, basic principles of solid data strategies and the ‘Four Ds’ – starting with citizen insight – will help put public bodies on the best path for success. 

At ArvatoConnect, we help central government departments and local authorities reshape and reinvent how they connect with those that matter most.

To read our full Digital Deficit report, please click here, and for more information about how we could support you in your digital transformation plans, contact:

*Research was conducted by Censuswide on behalf of ArvatoConnect in December 2023. The sample included 201 UK customer experience, transformation or IT decision makers in public sector organisations currently engaged in digital transformation.  

**These figures, unless otherwise stated, are from YouGov Plc. Total sample size was 2,133 adults. Fieldwork was undertaken between 12th – 15th January 2024. The survey was carried out online. The figures have been weighted and are representative of all UK adults (aged 18+). 

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