A little more than a year ago, the Federal Web Managers Council issued a ground-breaking white paper entitled, “Putting Citizens First: Transforming Online Government.” Yes, I’ve referenced it many times. But as we begin a new calendar year, it’s a great time to take a fresh look at those 6 terrific Customer Service Standards that the Council established:
When citizens want to find government information and services online, they should be able to:
1. Easily find relevant, accurate, and up-to-date information;
2. Understand information the first time they read it;
3. Complete common tasks efficiently;
4. Get the same answer whether they use the web, phone, email, live chat, read a brochure, or visit in-person;
5. Provide feedback and ideas and hear what the government will do with them;
6. Access critical information if they have a disability or aren’t proficient in English.
Those 6 standards show a real commitment to, and respect for, the citizen's point of view.
On its website - webcontent.gov – the Council has identified best practices (and tools to use to implement them) to help agencies meet those standards, including:
- Identify, improve, and feature top tasks
- Create and manage content effectively and efficiently
- Create content once and deliver it many ways
- Collaborate within your agency and across government to manage content and eliminate duplication
- Follow usability best practices and do usability testing continuously
- Make sure the public can find your content
- Create opportunities for the public to interact with their government
But that's not all. There's more support available. Web Manager University offers courses every semester to help web managers gain the knowledge and skills to implement these best practices and meet those terrific standards. And the Web Managers Forum has monthly conference calls to provide even more tips and tricks and an opportunity for web managers to share their successes and lessons learned.
The pieces are all in place. Everything is focused on the right vision. The best practices are right on. The tools and support are available. The Council is leading in the right direction to meet government’s responsibility to serve citizens.
So it comes down to this, web managers.
- Does your website live up to these Customer Service Standards?
- Have you measured them?
- Have you incorporated them in your strategic planning?
If not, then maybe - as we start a new year and a new decade – you should take a good look at your communication practices and see how you can improve them. If you need more training, get it. The next WMU course is a free webinar on Wednesday, starring my personal favorite web guru, Gerry McGovern. Sign up!
These are Customer Service Standards worth living up to. And there’s no time like the present to “put citizens first!”