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Digital Payments Are Key for Improving Citizen Satisfaction

May 17, 2021

A lot of citizens dream of the day that they can pay for their government services as easily as their morning coffee. Unfortunately, dreaming is all they can do, for now anyway. Despite an increased desire for digital payment options among citizens, government agencies are falling behind. Our research shows that it’s impacting citizen satisfaction. This year we continued our work supporting the government sector by researching current citizen billing and payment behaviors. The KUBRA Citizen Billing and Payment Report 2021 revealed that not much has changed to improve the citizen payment experience. We hope that this research could change all that. Here are some of the key findings from the 2021 study to help government agencies move the needle on citizen satisfaction.

Citizen Payment Experiences Are Still Only Fair to Good

Over the past two years, government agencies haven’t really made any real strides as far as improving payment experiences. In fact, satisfaction dropped modestly between 2019 and 2021. Today, 40% of respondents consider their current payment experience as fair compared to 38% in 2019. And 39% rated their customer experience as good in 2021 compared to 41% in 2019. Citizens appear to be less forgiving of mediocre experiences. They’ve grown accustomed to receiving exceptional customer service from companies like Amazon and Starbucks.

Citizens Want More Access to Digital Payments

A jump in appetite and use of digital payments are among the biggest trends identified in the report, as well as increasing demand for digital experiences. 70% of citizens are turning to digital payments because it’s convenient, 62% believe that paying online is easier, and 58% think it saves them time. This trend is evident across different services (e.g. licensing and tickets), but taxes were the most common government service paid through digital channels at 53%. This is a seven-point increase compared to 2019. In services where digital solutions are lacking, like permits, parking tickets, court fees, and library fees, there is definitely demand for greater access.

COVID-19 Has Accelerated the Digitization of Customer Interactions

COVID-19 has undeniably sped up the adoption of digital payments, with 37.5% of respondents indicating that their payment preferences changed during the pandemic. Our report found higher use of government websites, mobile apps, bank websites, and digital wallets. This was offset by a reduction in the popularity of walk-in centers and a dramatic 18-point drop in mail-in payments. The pandemic certainly triggered a swift migration to digital solutions and the assumption is that most of these changes are here to stay, including the increase in digital wallets as citizens grow comfortable using them to make payments.

Security Concerns, Poorly Organized Websites, and Lack of Digital Options Are Still Preventing Citizens From Using Online Payments

Despite the slight improvement between 2021 and 2019, government agencies still need to work on improving their websites and expanding digital options. 35% of citizens stated that security issues are still the number one reason holding them back from making online and mobile payments. Next, was a poorly organized website at 31%, followed by 24% of respondents who indicated that digital options are not available (which obviously prevents them from accessing them).

There are some fixes to address some of these issues. Security concerns around digital payments can be mitigated by focusing on educating citizens on the security measures in place to protect their data. Taking a customer-centric design approach will allow government agencies to develop well-organized and easy-to-navigate websites.

Why Government Agencies Should Make Improving Digital Payments a Priority

Digital payments improve citizen’s overall satisfaction with the government, but it also has very tangible benefits for government agencies.

  • 33% of respondents stated that digital payments show that their government is innovative.
  • 27% said that offering digital payments would increase their willingness to engage with their government agency. 23% said it increases their trust and confidence in their government.
  • 51% of respondents said improving digital payments would help them pay on time compared to 48% in 2019.
  • Digital payments increase efficiency, potentially saving government agencies a lot of money.
  • Including different ways to pay, like AutoPay and Pay-by-Text, will also speed up bill payments, and adding AutoPay will give government agencies more predictable cash flow.

Citizen expectations are on the rise and it’s no longer viable for government agencies to deliver services in the same old channels they always have. Citizens expect convenient and easy ways to pay no matter what product or service it is they’re paying for. To learn more about current citizen billing and payment trends, download our white paper.

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