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

City seeking feedback through citizen satisfaction survey

The City of Cranbrook is creating a survey to determine resident satisfaction… Continue reading

UPDATED: Council approves plan to reopen municipal offices, city playgrounds

Cranbrook is eyeing a reopening of city offices and facilities over the… Continue reading

Council mulls drive-in events following new provincial restrictions

A new order from the province’s top doctor banning gatherings of 50… Continue reading

Farm life: lessons learned while working from home

It’s important to slow down, be kind to one another, and enjoy the little moments in life

Cranbrook 2020 property tax notices in the mail

Taxes are due on Thursday, July 2, 2020

B.C. legislature coming back June 22 as COVID-19 emergency hits record

Pandemic restrictions now longer than 2017 wildfire emergency

B.C.’s essential grocery, hardware store employees should get pandemic pay: retail group

Only B.C.’s social, health and corrections workers are eligible for top-ups

COLUMN: Canada needs to remember rural communities as thoughts turn to pandemic recovery

Small towns often rely on tourism, which has been decimated by COVID-19

Edmonton, Vancouver and Toronto vying to be NHL hubs, but there’s a catch

The NHL unveiled a return-to-play plan that would feature 24 teams

B.C. sees 9 new COVID-19 cases, one death as officials watch for new cases amid Phase Two

Number of confirmed active cases is at 244, with 37 people in hospital

Introducing the West Coast Traveller: A voyage of the mind

Top armchair travel content for Alaska, Yukon, BC, Alberta, Washington, Oregon and California!

Nanaimo senior clocked going 50 km/hr over limit says her SUV shouldn’t be impounded

RCMP say they can’t exercise discretion when it comes to excessive speeding tickets

Illicit-drug deaths up in B.C. and remain highest in Canada: chief coroner

More than 4,700 people have died of overdoses since B.C. declared a public health emergency in early 2016

CMHC sees declines in home prices, sales, starts that will linger to end of 2022

CMHC said average housing prices could fall anywhere from nine to 18 per cent in its forecast

Most Read