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A Citizen-First Mindset Drives Better Government Services

This article is an excerpt from GovLoop’s guide, “Government’s Customer Experience Playbook.” Download the full guide here.

Across government, citizen-facing services are undergoing an evolution — from merely providing information online to delivering timely and personalized experiences to the public. But as agencies roll out and enhance their digital capabilities, they must find ways to engage with the people who need those services most and in the ways that best meet their needs.

The key is understanding who those individuals are and how they interact with government services.

In a recent interview with GovLoop, Angy Peterson, Vice President for Digital Engagement Services (DES) at Granicus, explained how a citizen-first mindset drives improved government services. Granicus is a leading provider of cloud-based solutions that empower governments to better serve citizens.

For any organization, the stakes for delaying improvements to digital services are high, Peterson said, citing an internet trends report that found 82% of consumers stopped doing business with an organization after a bad digital experience. Executing a quality digital engagement plan is key to keeping citizens and customers informed and empowering them to access the services they need.

In Michigan, for example, the state’s Department of Education partnered with DES to launch a strategic email and text message campaign, aimed at raising participation in its free summer meals program. This led to more than 3.6 million served meals in 2016, up from 3.1 million in 2015.

The ultimate goal for agencies is targeted engagement at lower costs. Budget constraints are common across government, so officials need to be cost-effective and demonstrate the impact of their proposed initiatives, Peterson said, “If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.”

That’s why agencies must find ways to be more strategic and think big picture — even in the midst of managing large, programmatic efforts. “They must be able to still respond and react to the day to day fires that come up.” The answer? Implement an engagement strategy.

“Granicus helps clients get clear on their goals, and helps them better understand their citizen audiences,” Peterson said. They can also help map an agency’s ideal citizen journey.

This journey includes reviewing touchpoints or steps that individuals take when they interact with an agency, from search engines to sign-up forms to different integration points on their website.

“For one large federal agency, we took their email list from 20,000 to eight million in a year and a half, which is huge growth,” Peterson said. “That was because of the digital engagement services used.”

Acquiring a citizen-first mindset is achievable for governments at all levels. When agencies start thinking like their audience and determining who they are, what they need, and how they can reach them, then they can maximize that knowledge to form a cohesive strategy.

Photo Credit: Granicus Events Flickr

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