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Industry insights and technology trends for a modern, citizen-centric government powered by cloud

Paradigm Shift: Engaging Citizens as Customers

Digital experiences are now the cornerstone of interactions with government services, driven in part by the rapid spread of web, mobile, and social channels. Citizens are in control. They decide how, when, and where they want to engage with government—whether it is in a service center, over the phone, on social media, via a mobile app, email, or on the web. No matter which channel they choose, constituents expect government to recognize them, who they are, what processes or interactions are underway, and to do so at every touch point. Given the fluidity of today's online interactions, citizens are often one click away from broadcasting a bad experience with your agency to hundreds of friends, or abandoning an online service for a high cost in-person transaction.

The more digital engagement becomes culturally ingrained, the more vital it becomes to providing good customer service. To better reach customers, companies are using digital technology to promote, deliver, and enable innovative services that reliably create positive experiences for their target audiences.  Now it's up to government to meet this new standard. To reach constituents in the digital age, successful agencies must cultivate those same instincts. They need to learn how to use technology to deliver their services and messages in a way that appeals to their customers—tech-savvy modern citizens. In doing so, they can build better relationships and interactions with all constituents—any time, any place, any device.

"The innovative use of technology is fundamentally transforming how the American people do business and live their daily lives," President Barack Obama stated in 2012, as he announced the Federal government's Digital Government initiative in a memorandum to heads of executive departments and agencies.

Citizens want to feel, in their communications with government agencies, like their voices are being heard. In fact, in a January 2014 survey by Accenture of 5,000 citizens from 10 countries, 76 percent of the Americans polled wanted more citizen participation and engagement in government, answering "tend to agree" or "strongly agree" to the question "Should people be more involved in shaping how public services are designed or delivered?"

Digital engagement empowers constituents with the ability to learn, share, engage, and let their voices be heard—in real-time. People want to be able to access government services and solutions anytime and anyplace. Digital engagement technologies help government effectively meet those needs.

The initial building blocks for success are to:

  • Establish an expectation of excellence. Public perception of government services is generally low. Although progress has been made, there is still work to be done. The most recent US Federal Customer Satisfaction report published by ACSI shows that there is a decline in satisfaction. Albeit there are many factors that impact this decline, such as increased demand and reduced budgets, the fact remains that government trails significantly behind the private sector. Agency leaders need to define an internal and external expectation of quality, timely service and manage to that expectation.  Digital experience technologies like social media, mobile apps, email, and others make it easy to service new channels, integrate them into existing work teams, and exceed expectations.  These tools help highlight positive events, promote new innovative campaigns and gather feedback on existing initiatives.

  • Enhance customer service. Demand for services from constituents is constantly increasing. By adopting digital technologies, such as web, mobile, and self-service, government agencies can deliver a personalized experience, and balance responsiveness while containing costs, leading to increased customer satisfaction while meeting resource constrictions. We recently partnered with GovLoop and published a pocket guide titled Customer Service 101: Breaking Down What You Need to Know." We encourage you to download it and leverage it in your organization

  • Promote civic participation: Engage citizens in improving processes for your city.  Citizens want to feel that they are making a difference. Providing citizens with a platform to collaborate with city officials through digital technologies will lead to the formation of innovative ideas that will create value for all, and increase the sense of belonging to the community.

  • Empower employees. Like other citizens, government employees embrace the efficiencies and effectiveness of digital technologies in their personal lives.  Empower them to serve constituents with these same services and channels and help them know that they are providing great service. Engaged employees will deliver better experiences to your citizens, leading to increased customer and employee satisfaction.

Citizens of the digital age want easy access to the agencies that serve them. To meet that need, agencies must modernize and focus on orchestrating personalized interactions with each and every constituent across channels and devices. They must understand the evolving needs of their customers and use a customer-centric approach to engage with their audience, taking advantage of all the tools and channels available to serve customers of all ages and in all demographic groups, at home and across the globe.

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