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Customer Service News
21 Aug 2007

E-government has arrived: authorities score points with electronic services

Potential for citizens’ services far from exhausted

Virtual advisors ensure permanent availability

E-government booming
online services for citizens provided by public administration institutions are in demand. One of the latest examples is the German Federal Government’s plan to abolish the paper Lohnsteuerkarte (income tax card) and replace it with an electronic version by 2011. Almost one in three people between 16 and 74 already use online services provided by Germany’s administrative authorities. 38 per cent of Internet companies in Germany believe that this trend will continue to grow. Governmental services for businesses are also on the rise. 30 per cent believe that the number of services available will grow over the coming twelve months. These are the findings of the Internet World Business Trendscout "E-Commerce Industry Development" published by novomind AG in conjunction with Internet World Business.
Authorities are concentrating too little on communication
The potential for creating closer ties with citizens using Internet services is considerable - and far from exhausted. Many authorities are still restricting themselves to information services such as downloadable forms and information input screens. The drawback is that citizens have to print these documents out first, then submit them by post. Very few authorities are actually providing a direct line into their offices, around the clock and via a range of different channels. The main forms of communication are still the letter, telephone, fax and e-mail. Real-time advisory services by virtual employees and online chats with officials, such as those provided by the Deutsche Rentenversicherung Bund, are only just starting to emerge.
Virtual consultants successful in Germany’s administration
State facilities at a Federal and state level are an exception to this. There, more and more digital helpers are taking up their posts so that citizens are not left standing outside online doors. For example, visit and find out all about the new 2007 German health reforms from Clara, the virtual consultant. The German Bundestag created an online cartoon character for its website. During the 2005 elections, a virtual eagle, symbol of Federal Germany, informed users about the general electoral proceedings, and today continues to provide information on the subject of elections and the Bundestag, Germany’s lower house of parliament. The Federal Ministry of Economics and Technology (Bundesministerium für Wirtschaft und Technologie, BMWi) also opted for a virtual employee some years back: at the BMWi’s website, "Luca" helps young people make choices about their careers.
Positive effects: closer links with citizens and lower costs
The level of acceptance of online services among the population is high - and rising - indicating that the future belongs to electronic communication with the populace. Authorities which have picked up on this trend have demonstrated transparency and accessibility by activating additional services on the Internet. This also provides an opportunity to cut costs, since procedures can be processed more quickly and are automated. One key challenge facing public administrators is how to enable multi-channel communication with the populace. People can then decide for themselves whether to conduct online visits to the authorities by e-mail, fax, live-chat or virtual consultant.
Background information
The Internet World Business trend scout presents the results of an online survey conducted for novomind AG in collaboration with Internet World Business. The data was collected in the period from 12 to 20 June 2007. A total of 171 skilled and management personnel employed in Internet business took part in the survey.
novomind AG: innovative software for professional customer communications
novomind is a software developer in Hamburg and the fastest-growing company in the field of electronic customer communications and mail management. As the leading provider of innovative solutions for digital customer communications, novomind AG provides software for service-oriented and personalised customer dealings. The software not only optimises efficiency in customer administration significantly, it also gives the user a faster return on investment. The portfolio of the Products division includes the novomind Self-Service Suite. The software package contains all the communication modules necessary for a customer service centre on a central knowledge basis: e-mail management, virtual customer consulting and systems for interactive, real-time communication. The novomind AG Services division implements complex e-business applications. More than 40 major companies have already decided in favour of novomind technology, among them Citibank, Otto, Yello Strom and the German pension institution Deutsche Rentenversicherung Bund. Club Bertelsmann, EnBW and Mexx as well as public-sector users, such as the German Bundestag (parliament) and the German Department of Trade and Industry, have already successfully introduced novomind systems to optimise their customer communications, turnover and PR.