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

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

Trevor Davis, base manager of the Western Canada Marine Response Corporation in Sidney, stands in front of the Hecate Sentinal, an oil skimming vessel based at Sidney’s Van Isle Marina. (Wolf Depner/News Staff)
Oil spill response base taking shape on Saanich Peninsula

Enhanced base with elements in North Saanich and Sidney to be fully operational in fall 2022

The O’Meara family – (left to right) Mari, Max, Adam and Rei – spent Saturday afternoon picking out the perfect tree. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
Santa’s Forest tree sale in Saanich implements one-way perusing, curbside pick up

Christmas tree, wreath sales in Braefoot Park through Dec. 24

Environment Canada has issued a special weather statement forecasting windy weather Sunday and Monday. (News Bulletin file photo)
More windy weather on the way for Vancouver Island

Environment Canada issues special weather statement for Victoria, east coast of Island, north Island

(Black Press Media file)
Webinars help Greater Victoria residents affected by dementia prepare for the holidays

COVID-19 pandemic, restrictions can add additional challenges for people living with dementia

Mary Cox and Jack Plant dance in their pyjamas and slippers at the morning pyjama dance during the Rhythm Reelers’ 25 Annual Rally in the Valley Square Dance Festival in Chilliwack on June 4, 2011. Sunday, Nov. 29, 2020 is Square Dancing Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Nov. 29 to Dec. 5

Square Dancing Day, Disability Day and International Ninja Day are all coming up this week

Black Press Media and BraveFace have come together to support children facing life-threatening conditions. Net proceeds from these washable, reusable, three-layer masks go to Make-A-Wish Foundation BC & Yukon.
Put on a BraveFace: Help make children’s wishes come true

Black Press Media, BraveFace host mask fundraiser for Make-A-Wish Foundation

Kevin Bieksa during his days playing with the Vancouver Canucks. (Photo: commons.wikimedia.org)
Bieksa to guest on free Canucks Alumni ‘Hot Stove’ on Zoom app

Former NHL player has become a game analyst on Sportsnet

A small crash in the water south of Courtenay Saturday afternoon. Two men had to be rescued, but reports indicate there were no serious injuries. Photo by Mike Chouinard
Small plane crash in Comox Valley waters Saturday afternoon

Two rescued from plane that had flipped in water; no serious injuries reported

A photo from 2017, of Nuchatlaht First Nation members outside court after filing a land title case in B.C. ( Submitted photo/Nuchatlaht First Nation).
Vancouver Island First Nation calls on B.C. to honour UNDRIP in historic title case

Nuchatlaht First Nation says Crown counsel continues to stall the case using the ‘distasteful’ argument that the Nation ‘abandoned’ their land

West Vancouver Island’s Ehattesaht First Nation continues lock down after 9 active cases were reported today after a visitor tested positive last week. (Ehattesaht First Nation/Facebook)
Ehattesaht First Nation’s COVID-19 nightmare: nine active cases, a storm and a power outage

The Vancouver Island First Nation in a lockdown since the first case was reported last week

114 Canadians were appointed Nov. 27 to the Order of Canada. (Governor General of Canada photo)
Indigenous actor, author, elder, leaders appointed to Order of Canada

Outstanding achievement, community dedication and service recognized

The Ahousaht First Nation confirmed its first case of COVID-19 on Nov. 26, 2020. (Westerly file photo)
Ahousaht First Nation on lockdown over COVID-19

“Emotions are high. The anxiety is high. We want our community to pull through.”

Most Read