The DWP faces significant hurdles to implementing an electronic strategy because most people still p...
The DWP faces significant hurdles to implementing an electronic strategy because most people still prefer to deal with queries over the phone or in face-to-face meetings at DWP office, a survey says.
The research, carried out by the department's own Information and Analysis Directorate, says that the DWP must do more to spread word on electronic methods of communication.
"People have a tendency to think that they are required to attend our offices in person, this is often not the case and DWP must ensure that customers know that alternative methods of contacting us are available, the report says.
"Nearly all participants in the customer research were still using the phone and face-to-face contact for most of their dealings with the DWP. This was simply because these were the more familiar, easier and tried and trusted methods.
"Additional benefits of phone and face-to-face contact include: ability to talk to named individual on hand; advice and help with form-filling; immediate response and/or resolution of queries, etc; one-to-one personal contact; and privacy.
"Face-to-face contact was also considered unavoidable for certain transactions. For JSA recipients this included signing-on every two weeks, the key reason they make contact with DWP. Likewise, others believed that they have to use face-to-face contact when providing proof to substantiate a benefit claim (e.g. original documents and medical examinations)."
However, the department is likely to take heart from other findings pointing to a generally positive view of the internet and the services that could be delivered through this medium.
The main problem is that most DWP customer have never even tried to use the internet to access services, the report says.
"Notwithstanding this almost universal lack of awareness, the idea of DWP providing services electronically prompted a fairly positive response, as long as it is positioned as an additional method of contacting DWP rather than a replacement for existing methods. Many felt that such developments were inevitable and to a large extent they were not surprised that DWP were considering the idea of electronic service delivery."
In order to ensure that its future online delivery of services does not get bogged down or simply rejected, the report concludes that the DWP must take steps to find out what customers actually want, and must ensure that websites developed to deliver services are made easy to use.
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