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Survey Reveals How People Want to Pay Government Bills

A survey from the gov tech company Springbrook Software found that most people prefer to pay their local government bills online, but they want easier navigation, better access to data and better payment options.

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A survey that evaluated nearly 1,000 people about their local government online service experiences provides some insight into how effective agencies are at serving their residents — especially when it comes to interactions as common and mundane as bill pay.

The survey, conducted by the research arm of gov tech company Springbrook Software, revealed that most people use their government’s digital services to pay their utility bills online; 63 percent reported they’ve made online payments through a website, compared to 34 percent who have paid a bill through the mail and 26 percent in person at a physical location.


When asked about what improvements or changes could be made in the utility billing process, municipal fee payments or process of ordering municipal services, people responded that they would like to see easier navigation (46 percent), better access to their data and account histories (43 percent) and better payment options (40 percent). Having a more modern look and feel was voted slightly less important (36 percent).
While bill pay isn’t an optional service, Springbrook Research Institute Director Steve Lundin suggested that how consumers feel about completing the task is a good indicator of how a government agency is serving their residents overall.

“If you kind of look at the bar that has been raised by these tier one technology companies or Amazon, with instant access to data whenever you want, I think overall the user experience, the experience that agencies provide their consumers, has to take a big step up,” said Lundin. “If you’re expecting one or two clicks to get you where you want to go because that’s what you’re seeing elsewhere and you go to a site that looks like it’s designed in 1998, you can begrudgingly suffer through it, you pay it but you’re just not going to be happy.”


Nearly all survey respondents, 98 percent, responded “yes” to the question, “Do you feel that your local government should invest in the best, modern and secure technologies available to provide you with a good user experience and protection for your data?” When asked what technologies the local government should invest in, billing solutions received the highest amount of responses (44 percent), followed by customer service (41 percent) and AI-powered chatbots to help with customer interactions (40 percent).
“It’s not like anybody could have stopped paying their utility bills, right? What I think it comes down to is the level of frustration,” said Lundin. “If you’re on the government side and you’re dealing with older systems that have manual processing, it creates a level of frustration, then that causes inefficiency and then there’s a whole myriad of problems and things that aren’t updated. Plus you might have cybersecurity issues.”


The Springbrook survey for consumer’s evaluation of local government online services also asked about social media — and residents self-reported that they interacted with their local agencies to make requests through a variety of social media channels, with the least popular being LinkedIn at 24 percent.
However, where consumers are looking to connect with their government agencies may be different from where government employees are spending their time.

In a separate Springbrook survey, which asked 115 government employees — mostly working as the city manager or in administration — asked participants, “Which social media platforms do you actively use for work?” The results were heavily skewed toward Facebook, which 75 percent of respondents reported using. Only 13 percent reported actively using X (Twitter) for work, despite it being the platform of choice to connect with government for many consumers.

Lundin added that not all government services are suitable for social media, and an improved customer portal might help better connect the two parties.

“If they’re going to Facebook, it means they’re not going to the local government portal, right? So if the path of least resistance to get data out is a third party, then the first party has to step up its game in terms of citizen interaction and provide citizens with that landing spot, that home base from which to operate,” said Lundin.

Lundin added that social media is an ideal place to share basic information, and get that first connection that will get consumers easily to where they need to go.

“Ultimately what you want to do is be able to drive your constituents back to your site, make that your ultimate home base with AI, a good-looking portal and secure payments,” said Lundin. “Reserve your Facebook page or your Facebook or social media reach for all the important news and assets [you] want to blast out immediately and you know they’ll be shared.”
Nikki Davidson is a data reporter for Government Technology. She’s covered government and technology news as a video, newspaper, magazine and digital journalist for media outlets across the country. She’s based in Monterey, Calif.