A person works on a laptop in North Andover, Mass., June 19, 2017 file photo. An annual review of how well the government interacts with Canadians applying or managing federal benefits suggests more people would turn to online channels, but only if there was a human around to help them out. THE CANADIAN PRESS/AP/Elise Amendola

Service Canada told key to improving use, ease of online services is human touch

The Service Canada review noted barriers to applying online for benefits are ‘psychological and emotional’

An annual review of how well the government interacts with Canadians as they access federal benefits suggests more people would turn to online channels, if there was a human around to help them out.

The report found that nearly half of people who could use online services would be convinced to make the switch, if they had help by phone, an online chat or a video link.

The Service Canada review noted barriers to applying online for benefits are “psychological and emotional.”

People applying for government services are often doing so for the first time, and sometimes for something meaningful to their lives, the report said, which means “they have a heightened sense of needing reassurance and feeling confident in the process.”

As is, the report found, many trek to a Service Canada office because they had more confidence that their application or issue would be resolved quickly and easily.

The report, which cost just under $250,000 and was delivered earlier this year, was made public this month.

Canada Revenue Agency, in a separate review of its services, heard something similar.

The agency’s report, also released this month, spoke about the need for its workers to show “more empathy and understanding,” and avoid making interactions feel “transactional.”

The report also said that the CRA website needs to have more plain wording and less technical lingo.

Participants told agency researchers they wanted to see an expansion of online services, such as notifications about important dates and more ability to track documents provided to the CRA.

The CRA review also suggested more online chats and setting times to talk with a CRA official on the phone would make services more flexible.

“Canadians want us to deliver service the way they are offered by others, and through more modern and integrated channels,” the report said.

“They said that it is important to avoid ‘one size fits all’ solutions and offer services in different ways.”

The annual client survey for Service Canada suggested that year-over-year, about 85 per cent of participants were satisfied with the service they received and found it easy and effective to use.

Satisfaction rates with online services remained lower than in-person centres, and didn’t change between the fiscal year that closed in March 2018 and the ensuing 12-month period.

The report suggested that improving satisfaction rates would require setting better expectations about wait times, being more courteous when explaining denials, and improving online functionality.

Officials have been working for years on simplifying and expanding online services, but antiquated equipment as well as complicated rules for procurement and data use have slowed down the pace of change.

ALSO READ: CRA wins appeal against B.C. couple who alleged ‘malicious’ tax evasion probe

Jordan Press, The Canadian Press


Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Royal BC Museum joins home education trend with outreach programs

Free webinar options available for RBCM@Home and kids’ programs, starting March 31

Victoria councillors propose waiving parkade fees to support essential workers

Motion coming to committee of the whole for consideration

Woman comes home to ‘entirely different’ Victoria after cruise ship, military base quarantine

Melanie Sibbitt booked herself a last-minute vacation on a cruise ship hit by COVID-19

Wheelchair user asks people to leave space on sidewalks to socially distance

Wendy Cox says many people are not stepping off the sidewalk to allow her space

B.C. records first at-home death from COVID-19, but 70+ hospital patients have recovered

Total of 970 novel coronavirus cases in B.C., with the majority in the Lower Mainland area

BC Ferries able to restrict travel for sick passengers

Ferries working on schedule shifts to keep workers safe

COVID-19: A message from the publisher

We will be making some changes to our print editions during these unprecedented times

Canada expands 75% wage subsidy to COVID-19 affected businesses of all sizes: Trudeau

Program will provide up to $847 per week for each worker

Pay parking suspended at B.C. hospitals due to COVID-19

Temporary free parking reduces need for keypads, contact

Helping those at risk, one piece of paper at a time through ‘isolation communication’

Simple paper tool during pandemic making its way across Canada thanks to social media.

‘Back to school, in a virtual way’ for B.C. students in COVID-19 pandemic

Province adds online resources to help parents at home

Canadian ferry operators call for inclusion in COVID-19 travel restrictions

Domestic travel restrictions should include ferries, operators say

Most Read