User relations, the start of a mutation in the public services


In our daily lives as consumers and customers, were are now familiar with the terms of simplified journey, successful experience, satisfaction, etc. but where do we stand as citizens?

We all use various public services and are therefore faced with bureaucratic complexities. Endless queues, incomprehensible Cerfa forms and opaque organisations paint a well-known picture of bureaucracy, but is this picture not tarnished by deeply rooted clichés although the public services have started their mutation by developing the use of digital systems and user experience?

Over the last few years, numerous communities have taken initiatives to modernize their services. While the first initiatives were often driven by the communities themselves, the impetus was quickly formalized under the authority of the various governments with the creation of the Secretariat-General for Government Modernization (Secrétariat Général pour la Modernisation de l’Action Publique – SGMAP) in 2012. In 2017, this administration was replaced by the Interministerial Directorate for Public Transformation (Direction Interministérielle de la Transformation Publique – DITP) and the Interministerial Directorate for Digital Affairs and State Information and Communication System (Direction Interministérielle du Numérique et du Système d’Information et de Communication de l’Etat – DINSIC).

This structure provided the administrations with shared tools adapted to their requirements.
A website(1) was created with resources, tools and testimonials intended for the public services. They include in particular:

  • The FranceConnect system which allows universal access to all e-government platforms (Income tax, Améli (social security website), ANTS (National Agency for Secure Documents), etc.),
  • The Marianne reference framework, a welcome charter intended to make government administration more accessible and more efficient, by taking its users into account and enhancing the work of its agents,
  • The user satisfaction survey kit which provides access to an e-survey platform.

Are these initiatives sufficient, however, to meet the expectations of the users and agents of the public services?

The 2018 survey of public services conducted by the Paul Delouvrier institute(2) indicates a 71% satisfaction rate and high expectations concerning the progress to be made in the field of user relations (7 items out of 9):

  • The speed of processing user files and response to requests (60%)
  • The simplicity and transparency of the administrative formalities (41%)
  • The possibility of contacting the public services more easily and more often (39%)
  • Customized follow-up of users (26%)
  • Integration of remarks and suggestions made by users (26%)
  • The increase in the number of administrative formalities that can be carried out on line (22%)
  • The stability of rules and procedures (16%)

In addition to this study, a MARKESS by exægis survey(3) published in June 2019 and conducted with the government administration decision-makers identifies the priority needs in user relation management.
The best results are:

  • Simplification of the user journey (80%)
  • Better user management (47%)

Despite this reassuring observation, a few basic notions such as being able to reach the public services, customization of user relations and above all the co-construction of the user service fail to be addressed.

In concrete terms, which levers can the public services use to make this mutation a success? 

First of all, digitization of the services is essential. This will allow several critical problems to be solved:

  • simplification of user journeys,
  • accessibility to the public services with no time or place constraints,
  • adaptation to the new uses of the “native digital’ generations

Some organizations have already taken the plunge: in 2016, 70% of the entitlement certificates were downloaded directly on the French social security health insurance portal.

This digitization led to the implementation of new tools which the agents must learn how to use. Training is vital in order to use the tools correctly. It allows the agents to become digitization ambassadors, promote the tools and help the public to use them. The online tax return is a good example of successful digitization of a service.

Artificial intelligence may also act as a lever over the next few months. Currently being tested in numerous organizations, the use of AI has yet to prove its worth and lead to the development of significant advantages. For the time being, it is often restricted to chatbots whose natural language recognition capabilities are still very limited. While the online booking bot on the website is really helpful, its voice equivalent is rather irritating. And in both cases, are we really talking about AI?

We must also remember that all these changes must be carried out in compliance with GDPR, which will be discussed in a future article.

Finally, we will mention a few successful initiatives observed with some Kiamo users.

Firstly, as part of their search for quality, communities may obtain a certification for their service level. For example, the town of Besançon and the Greater Besançon agglomeration community were awarded the Marianne label by Afnor. The difficulty with this type of approach is to improve the skills of agents who often never received any training on how to welcome the public. Training on how to welcome the public cannot be improvised and represents one of the key success factors for the creation and durability of a high-quality welcome programme.

On a different note, several communes have set up for their citizens a service which is generally accessible round-the-clock 7 days a week by telephone, the web or mobile application. Inhabitants can use this service, often called AlloMairie, to report all malfunctions, bad behavior or disorder observed in the region. The difficulty with this service is to ensure successful communication between the services receiving the requests from users and the services responsible for answering them. In Toulouse Métropole, for example, the inhabitants have access to a service called AlloToulouse. 350 000 calls are received every year in addition to digital requests (mail and mobile application). Read their testimonials here.

Similarly, Metz Métropole and its communes propose on their website a platform allowing users to report anomalies, but also to carry out online formalities, contact the various services, and above all take part in public surveys, public debates and make suggestions to improve the e-services, thereby meeting the need for co-creation expressed by the citizens.

With Kiamo, we are proud to support our numerous users of the public service with their daily user relations.


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