How to Migrate Citizens Online and Reduce Traffic on Traditional Channels Through Multichannel Management: A Case Study of Cross-Organizational Collaboration Surrounding a Mandatory Self-Service Application

How to Migrate Citizens Online and Reduce Traffic on Traditional Channels Through Multichannel Management: A Case Study of Cross-Organizational Collaboration Surrounding a Mandatory Self-Service Application

Christian Østergaard Madsen (ITU, Denmark) and Pernille Kræmmergaard (Digitaliseringsinstituttet, Denmark)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-5225-5966-5.ch007


E-government channels are a key to achieving economic savings from public digitization. Citizens tend to use multiple channels in a service encounter and often use e-government channels as a supplement instead of replacing traditional channels. There is a lack of knowledge regarding how government organizations apply findings from user studies to migrate citizens online while reducing traffic through traditional channels. The authors present a case study on how public authorities collaborate to create a multichannel strategy for an online application for single parents. After the multichannel strategy was implemented, there was an increase in the use of the application and a reduction in telephone calls. The authors wrote this chapter to contribute to channel choice and multichannel management literature.
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E-government is promoted as a means to increase the effectiveness and efficiency of public authorities as well as citizen satisfaction (Chadwick & May, 2003; Ho, 2002; Layne & Lee, 2001). As e-government channels generally have lower transactions costs than traditional channels, citizens’ migration from traditional channels towards e-government channels is regarded as key to achieving savings (The Danish Government, 2011). However, literature reviews of the e-government field show that the papers studied lack practical recommendations on how to achieve these benefits (Heeks & Bailur, 2007; Hofmann, Räckers, & Becker, 2012; Madsen, Berger, & Phythian, 2014).

The channel choice (CC) and multichannel management (MCM) branches of e-government examine how citizens and employees choose communication channels in a public service encounter and how government organizations can migrate citizens towards the most efficient channels (Ebbers, Pieterson, & Noordman, 2008; Kernaghan, 2013; Pieterson, 2010; Pieterson, Ebbers, & Madsen, 2017; van den Boer, Arendsen, & Pieterson, 2016). The majority of CC and e-government adoption studies are conducted in settings where citizens have a choice of channels. These studies typically revolve around increasing the adoption rates of digital channels. There are few studies in mandatory settings where citizens have already adopted e-government channels. Thus, the continued use of traditional channels among those who have adopted e-government channels remain unexplained (Ebbers, Jansen, & van Deursen, 2016; Madsen & Kræmmergaard, 2015a; Reddick & Anthopoulos, 2014). Although strategies to fully integrate government organizations’ channels have been suggested (Pieterson, 2010; Wirtz & Langer, 2016), they remain theoretical. Conducting a MCM strategy in practice is complicated, especially when the channels involved are managed by several organizations (Kernaghan, 2009, 2013; Roy, 2009). There is a lack of knowledge and practical recommendations for how such cross-organizational collaborations can be conducted. Therefore, scholars have called for case studies of successful MCM projects (Janssen & Kuk, 2010; Kernaghan, 2013; Mundy, Umer, & Foster, 2011; Wirtz & Langer, 2016), and qualitative studies of citizens’ combined use of traditional and e-government channels (Ebbers, Jansen, Pieterson, & van de Wijngaert, 2015; Ebbers et al., 2016; Schmidthuber & Hilgers, 2017). This paper addresses these gaps by answering the following research question; how can public authorities successfully implement a mandatory channel strategy, to increase citizens’ use of e-government channels and simultaneously reduce the use of traditional channels?

This paper presents a longitudinal case study (Yin, 2014) of a cross-organizational collaboration surrounding a mandatory online self-service application. The authors conduct a study among a group of citizens who have largely adopted the e-government channel. Thereby they analyze multichannel government-to-citizen (G2C) interaction occurring in a post-adoption environment and how government organizations can conduct multichannel management in such settings.

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