Creating a Personalized, Digital Experience in Government

This article is an excerpt from GovLoop’s recent report, “Delivering Government Solutions in the 21st Century: What You Need to Know.” Download the full report here

The federal government currently manages about 23,000 forms to carry out its essential functions and provide critical services and benefits. The government employees who maintain those forms spend more than 11 billion hours manually processing paperwork.

“In the case of paper-only forms, workers spend innumerable hours recreating and quality checking handwritten entries,” according to Performance. gov. “Where digital forms exist, they are often simply fillable PDF files that still require manual processing because the data isn’t collected in a format that can be automatically processed.”

These internal bottlenecks create massive backlogs for citizens awaiting benefit determinations, services, permits and more. When there are digital offerings, those services aren’t always intuitive or well-marketed to the users who need them most. Part of the issue is that government agencies don’t often think of themselves as having a brand or operating as a marketing organization.

“But government organizations absolutely agree that they have a reputation with their customers, their constituents and their community, and that reputation equates to their brand,” said Jonathan Benett, Technical Director, Digital Government Solutions at Adobe.

A hallmark of the President’s Management Agenda focuses on improving the customer experience with federal services. More specifically, enhancing CX is one of the cross-agency priority goals, or CAP goals, that will drive implementation of the PMA. The CAP goal around customer experience calls on agencies to “provide a modern, streamlined, and responsive customer experience across government, comparable to leading private sector organizations.”

Adobe has developed an industry-leading, enterprise end-to-end data management and customer experience platform unique to the industry to help government build and optimize great customer experiences, Benett said. “From the first stages of creative design to the full customer journey, we help customers agencies make, manage, mobilize and measure content and customer experience.”

Adobe helps agencies create next-generation digitized forms that are clear, concise and easily adaptive to any screen or platform, including websites and mobile apps. One of the most convenient features for citizens is that these forms can be easily started and stopped, allowing users to pick up where they left off. They are also able to sign, accept and approve any changes to the document.

Agencies are also partnering with Adobe to make their forms secure, efficient and automated. Adobe is certified under the Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP). FedRAMP, a governmentwide program, provides a baseline for risk management and authorization for cloud-based services. The e-signature solution makes it possible to securely sign any form and gain greater visibility and control over business transactions and documentation.

Ultimately, to improve digital services and overall CX, agencies must first understand who their customers are. Adobe can help them create that 360-degree, unified view of the customer. For example, it’s important that the Agriculture Department understands the unique needs of small and mid-sized farms and its customers. The agency must have a holistic view of the various ways that a farmer interacts with the department, and serve that persona accordingly. But too often agencies create multiple personas for the same individual and treat every interaction as a separate instance.

That’s where personalization comes in, said Richard Calentine, Senior Business Value Manager at Adobe.

Let’s say your agency provides online services for custodial and noncustodial parents who need to pay child support. Rather than having frequent users jump through procedural hurdles that first-time users must go through, why not tailor that experience to meet the needs of those power users?

You could give them a PIN code that allows them to easily log into a portal and quickly access the information they need using a guided navigational experience. That could include using specific questions and answers to guide them to the content that meets their needs, instead of forcing them to aimlessly search your website for documents and resources.

To provide these capabilities on a larger scale, the administration is promoting the use of web-based forms created through user-centered design methods. The objective is to reduce the burden that paper forms place on users while producing well-structured data to the agencies for ingestion.

“The government is always looking to improve its mission effectiveness or delivery of mission critical services,” Benett said. “This recent turn, this renaissance time that we’re living in, has ushered in a new focus on the customer and providing services that benefit customer engagement.”

As agencies shift their attention to improving CX through modern, digital services, citizen-government interactions will continue to increase well into the future.

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