Customer’s expectations are rising. For government, the catch is that the customer is the citizen. So keeping up with their expectations for smooth experiences across government websites can be difficult, but not impossible.
At GovLoop’s online training on Thursday, industry experts shared five best practices so public servants can provide the best digital experiences for the public. Attendees heard from Helen Corin, Adobe’s General Manager of the Adobe Experience Manager (AEM) Center of Excellence at Public Sector, and Robert Chandler, Adobe’s Solutions Consultant on the Federal Civilian Team. They identified the importance of content strategy, governance, personalization, analytics, and future awareness as part of the best practices for a seamless, customer-centric digital experience.
1. Content Strategy
Content can mean many things to many people — it can entertain or inform on formats ranging audio, text and video. But one thing is clear: “It doesn’t matter what content is. People have to want to consume it,” Corin said.
A content strategy fuels well-meaning but overwhelming intentions to create content that will actually be consumed. It acts as internal guidance and governance, Corin said.
Part of what makes a successful content strategy is knowing what kind of content is already there. Corin advises agencies to perform a content audit, broken up into four phases: inventory existing content, organize and tag it, add success metrics and, finally, analyze that data to identify patterns of success and gaps for improvement.
Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) tools can help with organizing. For example, Adobe’s Sensei, an AI and ML tool, can provide smart tag assets that automatically suggest tags on content for the curator to either add or remove. This can make tagging and organizing content much easier, Chandler said.
Governance enables changes, even the smallest ones, to be established smoothly without compromising the quality of the digital experience. For instance, changing one logo throughout a company’s digital assets is a bigger undertaking than it seems. Though it may just be one image, figuring out every place the image is hosted is virtually impossible without proper governance of the digital experience. Replace the logo example with a message that needs to go out in an emergency situation, such as when parents with children in school need to be reached in a wildfire, and the governance portion weighs significantly.
“Whether internally or externally facing, we need to ensure the message we’re giving to our customers is timely and consistent,” Corin said.
To do so, Corin calls for clear policy and consistent standards, so that teams and people working to provide a digital experience can provide good and consistent quality for their customers. Proper governance can help the digital experience thrive.
No one wants government to creep in the way advertising agencies do, from your desktop to your phone. But when it comes to linking the right information to the right person, government can still provide a personalized experience, Corin said.
“Most users are willing to share their data if they know they maintain control,” Corin said. And if customers give information, they expect personalization.
Progressive consent, a tiered method of asking for consent of user data, gives the customer control of the information they share while building trust between the user and provider. It “highlights along a customer’s journey how and why their personal data is being collected and used,” Corin said.
Explaining to customers why and how their data is being used increases customers’ trust. With more trust, customers are more likely to give relevant data so agencies can accumulate a deeper understanding of their customers. This, in turn, enables agencies to craft and provide the personalized experiences their citizens expect.
What analytics can do for the digital experience is enable agencies to understand the customer journey in context. Intelligence tools can ensure the meaningful delivery of specific content to specific people on their specific devices, Corin noted.
“Content analysis isn’t just one dimensional. It’s like a Russian nesting doll,” Corin said. “Unless you keep peeling back the layers, you never really find out what’s at the bottom of it.”
5. The Future
The unique quality of digital experiences is that technology updates quickly, and nobody can know for sure how a customer will consume content in the future.
“Maybe everyone’s going to move on to neural implants — nobody knows,” Corin said with a chuckle. Just as the creators of the Internet couldn’t have imagined it would be used for things like Pokemon Go today, we can’t predict how it will be used in the future, Corin added.
Agencies must expect the unexpectedness of technology in the future and evaluate their digital experiences with this in mind.
“With increasing complexity, the technology that we’re using to dispatch that content needs to continuously innovate and keep up with the rate of change,” Corin said.
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