We have recently had the privilege of working with some truly outstanding customers. Through these experiences, we have gained insight into a few considerations for government as they move towards better-delivering services to their customers, the people they serve. With these insights, we have developed a list of five ways that government can improve the Citizen Experience.
1. Identify and understand who you are serving.
People are diverse. There are many different needs and different concerns. Any government looking to better deliver services, just like any private sector business, must understand who they are serving and identify segments of their user base that might have some things in common.
Government leaders who are charged with enhancing service delivery need to identify key traits of their users: are they internal or external; are they tech-savvy or not; how frequently do they interact with the government; and, most importantly, what outcome are they trying to achieve.
Understanding the makeup of users is important to delivering an exceptional experience, online or other. The best experiences can be produced when governments encourage their leaders to understand their organization’s strengths and weaknesses and to identify opportunities in each user segment by building personas of their customers. Delivering a wonderful experience doesn’t happen with a one-size-fits-all approach. Different people have different needs, and gaining a better understanding of those is critical to overall success.
2. Actively listen.
People will tell you what they like and don’t like. What they like could be the simplest and most cost-efficient experience you can deliver.
Listening to what people say about their experience applies to all of government’s channels and to all of the various interactions between your government and the people you serve. For example, you may get feedback from website visitors, but are you following up when they don’t receive the experience they expect? Contacting people directly or using exit surveys upon completion of a transaction can give you a deeper understanding of what went right and wrong — and how to fix it.
Many governments see the need to engage citizens as critical in their service improvement initiatives. They engage with citizens early in the process and throughout the process to ensure success. Visit this link to learn more about the types of things the UK Government has considered during their journey: https://userresearch.blog.gov.uk/wp-content/uploads/sites/102/2014/06/Digital-Service-Assessment-user-researcher-checklist.pdf
“You cannot manage what you do not measure” is the mantra of many successful businesses and governments worldwide. It’s important to integrate both quantitative and qualitative data and measure performance against measurable goals and objectives. We can’t just look at the satisfaction of an experience. Rather, organizational leaders need to understand what’s driving satisfaction and measure it.
Many experts suggest that governments have a common yardstick when it comes to measuring service experiences. It does not help to have different measuring methods in different departments of the same government. For example, an application process at one government department may get a six out of 10, while an experience with another may produce a four out five, and an experience with yet another department’s mobile app might get a 72! If government moves toward a common index, performance metrics will be clearer and more meaningful for both leadership and taxpayers. These metrics will then drive improvement.
4. Gain stakeholder buy-in.
In order to get everyone on the same page and improving the citizen experience, it’s essential to bridge the gap between senior leaders and those who regularly interact with citizen experience data. Ultimately, you want leaders to understand and use data to drive business decisions. Assign a champion, which can be an individual or a group charged with gathering the inputs, documenting and illustrating citizen journeys, holding education sessions with stakeholders and leaders, refining key performance indicators and more.
5. Convert insights into actions; start small and grow.
Plan your work and work your plan. Identify and prioritize key opportunities. Collaborate across government to create and communicate a proposed strategy. Achieving a successful citizen experience across government takes optimum teamwork. Good implementation takes a village of champions: assembling a team, developing a shared vision of success and communicating results. After gaining momentum on some “low-hanging fruit,” go bigger, broader and longer term. Your citizens will thank you.