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In 2012 DIA launched the Online Passport Service - the first fully online passport renewal service in the world. For the Uptake team at DIA, our work doesn’t end when a service goes live. We monitor our online services to assess how customers are using it and identify opportunities for improvement. Our customers can now apply for their first adult passport, renew a child passport and apply as a group online.

How we understand our customers’ behaviour to improve their experience

Understanding our customers’ needs and continuously improving the services we offer is central to our work. One of the ways we do this is by analysing the anonymous data collected as thousands of customers visit our websites. These anonymous interactions allow us to see trends in behaviour and identify areas where we can improve our customers’ online experience.

Using Google Analytics we can get an overview of how many people are accessing our services or what pages are visited, as well as in-depth insights on areas that don’t provide the optimal user experience. Google Analytics does not have access to the personal information that is collected in the online service.

Example: Improving the ‘eligibility flow’ on Passports

The ‘eligibility flow’ is a series of questions on the passports website that helps a customer determine if they can apply online.

The eligibility flow includes the following questions:

  • Have you had a New Zealand passport before?
  • Have you had a name change since your last passport was issued?

Using feedback from our customers, frontline people and web analytics, we can identify areas for improvement and make a case for change. 

Feedback has included:

  • “Why are you asking me this? I would like more context about why you are asking these questions. It would be good to have a sub heading here.”
  • “I like the part that says if you have a NZ Passport before you don’t need to be verified. I think that I don't have to be verified to continue.”

For the Uptake team, a successful journey through the eligibility flow is one where the customer understands what they need to do to lodge their application after answering the questions once. By tracking live, organic interactions, we can establish patterns in behaviour and visualise what aspects of our website customers are finding difficult to navigate or understand.

In this instance, our data shows that customers often navigated backwards and forwards through the eligibility flow. This could be because the customer misinterpreted a previous question, and by giving the wrong answer they would end up receiving incorrect information.

When renewing a passport, customers could think that they needed to have a RealMe verified identity to renew a passport when this is not necessary. Customers would drop out of the process and use a paper form when the process could have been completed online.

This suggested to us that we could improve the customer experience for answering these eligibility questions.

What happens after we identify a problem

Once a problem has been identified we seek to understand and solve it.

Combining the data with feedback from customers and staff gave us the full customer journey and informed changes to the questions and format of the flow. We loaded the proposed changes into a test site which we used as a prototype to test with recruited participants.

We recruited participants from our families, friends and wider networks. Pasifika advisers in Auckland recruited customers who didn’t have English as a first language and less confidence with using services online. 13 people came into the Manukau, Auckland and Wellington offices to test the prototype.

Participants were given a series of scenarios and were observed as they used the prototype. Observations by the team confirmed the same issues that had been originally identified using web analytics. We saw first-hand where people hesitated or navigated to and fro in the flow. The insights from the research will inform the next iteration of the eligibility flow.

What happens next

We are compiling the data from the testing to make recommendations to change the eligibility flow.

We expect to make more changes to the Online Passport Service to make it more accessible and promote as a viable alternative to the manual process. In the last year around 62% of applications to renew an adult passport were received online. The target for 2020 is that 80% of applications will be done online.

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