7 Keys to Engaging Citizens On The Go With Mobile Apps

GovLoop recently release our new Citizen Engagement Guide which examines key touch points between government and citizens and how to optimize them for maximum impact. The following is a excerpt from the guide:

How can other agencies learn from the IRS’ success with the IRS2Go app? Below are seven lessons they have learned over the last two years.

1. Identify a champion.
The impetus for creating the IRS2Go app came from the very top. It’s not always the case that an agency head will spur an innovation, but most successful initiatives that break new ground have the imprimatur of a high-ranking official. If you’ve got an innovative idea, find a senior leader that will support and sustain the initiative from concept to completion.

2. Respond to known citizen activity.
Did you notice that the IRS began their development of the app by learning
how citizens were already interacting with the agency on the web? They performed an analysis of historic visitor activity on their official site and
generated a list of potential feature sets to inform product requirements. Leverage the data you already have to identify citizen information preferences.

3. Narrow your project scope.
The IRS exercised extraordinary restraint to whittle down 25 ideas to just 4 final features. Yet that prioritization and decision-making process was
one of the big reasons they were able to stand up the app quickly and successfully.

4. Think outside the box.
Since IRS2Go isn’t a big legacy system or a tax processing system, it needed a different approach to implementation. The IRS did not follow the traditional product development model they have in place. “We came up with a modified software development process to get some of our more lighter weight changes out there,” said Silvia. As a result, “we created the app inexpensively and efficiently without taking any shortcuts on security.”

5. Iterate quickly and regularly.
That modified process also allowed the IRS to make changes on a more regular basis. They make updates to the app about once a week, fixing
bugs and improving the citizen experience in much shorter increments.

6. Listen to citizen feedback.
As mentioned above, the IRS is “constantly watching the ratings in the app store to see where people are having issues and addressing those concerns,” said Silvia. “While we’ve focused more on the features, you’ll also see that we’ve made design changes. For instance, we don’t have the image in the background anymore due to feedback.” Lesson: listen to feedback and be responsive.

7. Integrate with other communication channels.
IRS2Go has helped to get more citizens subscribed to agency news by
email and social media platforms. They have an integrated communications approach which uses the IRS2Go app to drive people to the traditional website and YouTube for information and urges people to sign up for email updates. In turn, social media serves as an additional listening tool and directs citizens to the website for better information.

We also want to offer a special thanks to the sponsors of this report:

To learn more about Accela and their Civic Cloud, please visit http://www.accela.com/civiccloud. In addition, please check out our full interview with Accela CEO Maury Blackman.

To learn more about the ways in which GovDelivery drives citizen engagement, please visit: http://www.govdelivery.com/how-we-help/. Also, be sure to read our full interview with GovDelivery CEO Scott Burns.

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