Mariano José de Larra's “come back tomorrow” continues to be applicable to many Spanish citizens two centuries later, although it has now been transferred to the digital environment.
While the problem that the writer and journalist referred to in the 19th century was the bureaucratic web in which one could become involved, if he lived today, he would find the gymkhana on his computer screen, where he would face difficulties such as achieving access a procedure through electronic identification, find a telephone number where you can be attended or understand the text itself.
In Spain, 83% of citizens leave some procedure uncompleted due to the impossibility of understanding it, for 49%, the main difficulty is not being able to contact someone to resolve doubts and almost 40% end up turning to a family member or friend to receive help, rather than the Administration itself.
These are some of the conclusions drawn by the communication company Prodigioso Volcán, after having analyzed 40 digital procedures from the State Administration, the autonomous communities and town halls, and having surveyed 1,000 citizens.
“There is a lot to do in the digital design of services, in the language itself, in usability…”, declares Jorge Hierro, CEO of Salta Comunicación y Formación Digital and IT consultant.
“You have to have a lot of perseverance and go looking for your life, and that time that you need to be able to complete the obligations that you have as a citizen affects you.
We are self-taught and we have certain difficulties because the technical is not with us;
logically, you have to turn to family and friends ”, he adds.
“What would we think if 9 out of 10 people tripped climbing a ladder?
Whose problem would it be?”, says Judith González, client director of Comunicación Clara, within Prodigioso Volcán.
Faced with this situation, Hierro proposes, on the one hand, to train citizens and offer them digital aptitude certifications (something similar to the Google Activate courses) and, on the other, to incorporate training pills and frequently asked questions on the Administration's web pages , that can guide the user when he encounters difficulties when carrying out a procedure.
"At the state level, digital education campaigns would be very good," agrees Carmen Buiza, a local Administration official in the Torrelodones City Council (Madrid).
In said City Council, Buiza and his partner Ana Panadero assure that they try to "explain the procedures with a non-technical language because that is something that complicates a lot" and, above all, to accompany people.
"Here the procedures are not too difficult, but, even so, there is always a worker to give them a hand and even to come with their own computer and teach them," says Panadero.
Although they all insist that the problem does not only affect the elderly, it is true that these are the ones who feel the most insecure: “They are not very satisfied.
Sometimes they come in person to verify that what they have done with the digital certificate has arrived”, warns the official.
Prodigious Volcano conducted the survey of a large majority of citizens with a high or medium socioeconomic level and, above all, between 18 and 54 years of age, and the results showed that young people also have problems complying with this type of obligation: "My The interpretation is that, as they are used to a level of applications with an excellent customer experience, they cannot understand the complexity to which the Administration takes you", explains Elena Liria, CEO of Madrid Digital, the Agency for the Digital Administration of the Community of Madrid.
Among the digital procedures are some as fundamental as registering the birth of a child, housing assistance or changing address.
There are thousands of them at every level of the Administration.
In the Community of Madrid, for example, they talk about 1,700 and in the Administration of Navarra about 1,800.
Spain and Germany are working on a common digital identity to facilitate online procedures
“Obviously, the Administration is complex because it depends on the State, the autonomous community and the town hall.
This means that not all procedures are so easy to carry out in a citizen folder because they depend on interoperability between the different administrations", explains Hierro, to which Liria adds: "The Community of Madrid is one of the autonomous administrations that uses the most the common components of the State, such as the Citizen Folder.
Our Digital Account project was born with the purpose of being able to include all the information of the State that allows us to show the citizen, and that of the municipalities with less than 20,000 inhabitants ”, he explains.
It is a matter of wills.
"But we'll see what can be done.
Behind it, there is an administrative procedure that has regulations, a regulation that is often the stumbling block that the process is not really easy.
Simplifying the administrative procedure involves changing the regulations.
Each one is a different world because it has its regulations and many factors intervene”, adds the CEO.
An interoperability challenge
The continuous request for data from the citizen, despite having previously provided it to the Administration, also creates an efficiency problem.
According to Elena Liria, to avoid it "we have to give him permission."
“It is true that perhaps this is not communicated as well as it should be.
The Administration cannot ask you for information that it already has if you have authorized it, but if you have not done so, it has to ask for it.
With Cuenta Ciudadana we seek that permission, ”she explains.
In the Government of Navarra they are working in a data office to be able to request the information from another data space and from other administrations.
Itziar Berrospe, director of the Digital Advancement Service of the General Directorate of Telecommunications and Digitization of the Government of Navarra, describes it as an "interoperability challenge".
Digital Account, from the Community of Madrid, also seeks to resolve some procedures in a single click, although it will depend on the complexity of each case.
Prior information is sometimes wrong or unclear
Obstacles can be encountered even before starting the process.
The Prodigioso Volcán study shows that in 7.5% of the procedures errors are found in the prior information, such as that the necessary documents do not match those requested once the procedure has started, 85% of the procedures do not use an instructional design to explain how to do them, in 27.5% the application channel is not clear and 22.5% do not explain what the procedure itself consists of.
Sometimes the complication is found in the access itself, due to not knowing what each form of identification consists of or confusing one with another, for example, Cl@ve Permanente with Cl@ve Pin.
18% of those surveyed state that the main difficulty is that they have not been able to authenticate themselves and more than half state that they have had technical problems before starting the process.
Of course, most of the procedures offer the four main ways to do it: both Cl@ves, the electronic DNI and the digital certificate.
According to the study, on the other hand, the average probability of clarity of the initial explanatory texts is 23.5%.
Even so, according to Carmen Buiza, from the Torrelodones City Council, sometimes the problem also lies in the fact that users do not read the screens, but go "with the mouse to where it says 'follow' to click", so that in this Administration try to highlight it with a color, underline it or put it in bold.
In the Community of Madrid they are also working on "the easy language of procedures".
“This will greatly improve the understanding of citizens”, declares the CEO of Madrid Digital.
“For me, digitization is not just a question of technology, but of simplifying the procedure and the process,” she adds.
Both the Community of Madrid and the Government of Navarra work with citizen surveys in order to improve the user experience.
In the case of Madrid, they look for the "pain points" that citizens have when working with a procedure in order to simplify it, explains Liria.
In Navarra, Berrospe indicates that, through a project to analyze and monitor the use that citizens make of navarra.es procedures, they can identify which have a longer development time or are abandoned without having completed them.
As Jorge Hierro explains, “in the digital world, what we are talking about right now is already in the past, so you have to adapt it in a present and future way”.
But for that, you need funding.
In Estonia, the paradigmatic case of a digitized State and the digital identity of the citizen, they also "begin to have difficulties because they have to keep updating themselves continuously to maintain that top level of digitization, which requires a lot of budgetary investment", according to Elena Liria.
Although the experts give importance to the training of the citizen, they also do so to that of those who attend to and resolve doubts.
"I agree with the survey that, in general, at the three levels of the Administration it is very difficult to find help for digital Administration, and not always at 010 or 012 they have the specialty to guide you in the procedure, as The Tax Agency does, ”recognizes Liria.
All the administrations consulted ensure that telephone and face-to-face assistance is offered and that, despite the fact that digitization is increasing, they are not going to disappear.
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