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

“We have to make a call out to address this now so our people don’t have to feel fearful,” said Tribal Chief Mina Holmes. (Carrier Sekani Tribal Council Facebook photo)
Carrier Sekani Tribal Council seeks Indigenous-led task force in northern B.C. hospitals

Request made in an open letter to federal minister Carolyn Bennett

NDP headquarters on election night, Oct. 24, 2020. (Katya Slepian/Black Press Media)
ELECTION 2020: Live blog from B.C. party headquarters

BC NDP projected to win majority government – but celebrations will look different this election

Jennifer Rice BC NDP North Coast Incumbent was re-elected for a third according to the preliminary results on election night, Oct. 24, 2020. (Photo: K-J Millar/The Northern View)
Jennifer Rice is North Coast MLA for third term

Preliminary election results show NDP Majority government

B.C. Green Party leader Sonia Furstenau outlines her party's climate action platform at Nanaimo's Vancouver Island Conference Centre earlier this month. (News Bulletin file photo)
Green leader Furstenau declared victor in her home riding on Vancouver Island

Cowichan Valley voters elect freshly minted party leader for her second term

Over the years, Janice Blackie-Goodine’s home in Summerland has featured elaborate Halloween displays and decorations each October. (File photo)
QUIZ: How much do you really know about Halloween?

Oct. 31 is a night of frights. How much do you know about Halloween customs and traditions?

FILE - In this Jan. 23, 1987 file photo, actor Sean Connery holds a rose in his hand as he talks about his new movie “The Name of the Rose” at a news conference in London. Scottish actor Sean Connery, considered by many to have been the best James Bond, has died aged 90, according to an announcement from his family. (AP Photo/Gerald Penny, File)
Actor Sean Connery, the ‘original’ James Bond, dies at 90

Oscar-winner was knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 2000

This house at 414 Royal Ave. became notorious for its residents’ and visitors’ penchant for attracting police. It was also the site of a gruesome torture in August 2018. It was demolished in 2019. KTW
6-year sentence for Kamloops man who helped carve ‘rat’ into flesh of fellow gang member

Ricky Dennis was one of three men involved in the August 2018 attack

Cpl. Nathan Berze, media officer for the Mission RCMP, giving an update on the investigation at 11:30 a.m., Oct. 30. Patrick Penner photo.
VIDEO: Prisoner convicted of first-degree murder still at large from Mission Institution

When 10 p.m. count was conducted, staff discovered Roderick Muchikekwanape had disappeared

Among the pumpkin carvings created this year by Rick Chong of Abbotsford is this tribute to fallen officer Cont. Allan Young.
Abbotsford pumpkin carver’s creations include fallen police officer

Rick Chong carves and displays 30 pumpkins every year

An online fundraising campaign in support of the six-year-old boy, Edgar Colby, who was hit by a car on Range Road Oct. 25 has raised more than $62,000 in a day. (Submitted)
$62K raised in 1 day for boy in coma at BC Children’s after being hit by vehicle in Yukon

The boy’s aunt says the family is “very grateful” for the support they’ve received from the community

Join Black Press Media and Do Some Good

Pay it Forward program supports local businesses in their community giving

Health care employees take extensive precautions when working with people infected or suspected of having COVID-19. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Chris Young
WorkSafeBC disallows majority of COVID-19 job injury claims

Health care, social services employees filing the most claims

Conservative leader Erin O’Toole rises during Question Period in the House of Commons in Ottawa on Wednesday October 28, 2020. (Adrian Wyld/The Canadian Press)
Conversion therapy ban gets approval in principle, exposes Conservative divisions

Erin O’Toole himself voted in favour of the bill, as did most Conservative MPs

Most Read