Improving the Citizen Experience With Government

Your first step to increasing public trust

Over the last 50 years, research organizations have documented falling public trust in key institutions, from business, to media, to government.

While it’s nearly impossible to identify precise causes (or effects), trust – defined by a firm belief in the reliability of something – is very often a result of meeting the expectations stakeholders have of those institutions.

In the case of government, citizens expect reliable information, processes and services. However, “customers” of these public goods don’t have the same freedom to switch news stations or products if they are unsatisfied.

It’s no silver bullet, but improving the citizen experience with finding information, complying with processes and consuming services is a great first step toward fostering greater public trust. The agencies that are doing this well follow four key steps:

1. Understand the citizen experience or journey at every touchpoint

What is the customer looking for? Information? Process help? Services? Is finding and accomplishing designed with them in mind? Are they going to your website or customer service phone number first? Answering these and other journey-relevant questions is vital if you are designing with the user at the core.

2. Continually collect and analyze feedback to identify experience gaps

Focus groups are a vital element in service design, but are not often consulted beyond the design phase of any project. This is why mechanisms to continuously collect feedback at every touchpoint are so important. Continuous measurement and analysis allows leaders to proactively improve holes identified in user feedback.

3. Close the feedback loop

It’s hard to overemphasize this piece, especially in government where better information could save somebody jail time or adequate services could change lives. Following up with citizens who have provided specific negative feedback is a powerful and personal way to connect with someone and put a face to the dedicated effort in government agencies to achieve their missions.

4. Iterate often based on larger trends

Responding to every negative response at scale is impossible, no matter how large or dedicated an agency is. This is why it’s important to use the data and analysis from step two to iterate based on trends in feedback. Look for simple ways to alleviate pains shared by multiple customers, quickly adapt, and monitor the feedback that follows. This agility saves agencies from overspending on solutions that may not be what citizens are looking for and helps foster a reputation for innovation and problem solving.

Improving the citizen experience is a powerful way for government to help rebuild trust with citizens in a meaningful way.

Ashley Robinson is part of the GovLoop Featured Contributor program, where we feature articles by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Contributor posts, click here. You can follow Ashley on Twitter and LinkedIn

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Avatar photo Blake Martin

Great piece, and I especially loved your third point. I frequently wonder how often sites collect survey feedback and other customer experience data but then don’t follow-up or close that loop, and as you noted this is an awesome way to instill trust.