The private sector has done amazing things in the digital sphere, personalizing customers’ experiences and providing interactive services. However, this has set a high bar for government services. Citizens expect a similar personalized and interactive experience from government agencies as well.
For government agencies, this means blending art and science—the art of personally connecting with individuals and the science of delivering meaningful digital experiences. Tuesday’s webinar, “Driving Digital Government Transformation with Creativity and Engagement,” brought together Mika Cross, Director of Strategic Communications for Digital and Public Engagement at the Department of Labor, and Michael Glanton, Solution Consultant for State and Local Government at Adobe, to talk about the tools and strategies needed for an effective digital government transformation.
Cross works with the Veterans’ Employment and Training Service (VETS) at the Department of Labor. VETS’s mission follows the 4 P’s: preparing veterans for meaningful careers; providing them with employment, resources, and expertise; protecting their employment rights; and promoting their employment opportunities. In order to reach veterans, the program employs a variety of digital services, including e-newsletters, blogs, social media, outreach campaigns, and more.
The main goal of VETS is to connect veterans with employers and job opportunities, and their new portal, Veterans.gov, is the digital first stop for both. The site brings together information and resources from different groups within the Department of Labor as well as other federal agencies and industries, like the Small Business Administration, Department of Agriculture, the Department of Energy, and more.
In order to develop this portal, Cross and her team went through three different iterations, relying on customer user experience playbooks and best practices from 18F, General Service Administration’s digital innovation hub. In addition, Cross’s team worked with virtual usability testing and gathered feedback from more than 180 participants through an automated online submission form. Through this testing and feedback process, Cross worked to ensure that Veterans.gov was shaped by user feedback. In addition, she plans to develop further response mechanisms to incorporate more feedback throughout the process.
Glanton took a step back, looking at the digital transformation more broadly. Digital strategies have never been easier, but they also have never been harder. Connected citizens, the data explosion, and digital disruptions have created more opportunities for digital services but can also be overwhelming. In order to be successful, agencies need to understand the elements of a great citizen experience and focus their strategies to meet those goals. According to Glanton, the citizen experience should be compelling, personal, useful, and accessible from everywhere, and agencies should be able to make, manage, and measure their content.
In addition to making, managing, and measuring, Glanton listed several tasks that are essential for developing digital strategies:
- Reduce the cost per constituent
- Increase conversions to self-service
- Increase return on marketing
- Improve constituent affinity for web services
- Capitalize on social media opportunities
- Meet mobile expectations
However, agencies also face several challenges, such as disparate data sources, unintegrated toolsets, fragmented workflows, and disjointed skill sets. However, technology suites like Adobe’s can provide a unified set of tools and services to enable and accelerate the transition to digital services.
By using basic and advanced data, agencies can build a personalized citizen journey, starting when people are exploring resources, services, or events. From there, agencies can engage the citizen through online services and follow up with them to retain their interest and business. If a citizen found the digital experience positive, they can become an advocate for the services, attracting new users, and becoming repeat users themselves.
Glanton took some time to discuss where he thought the digital transformation would lead in the futures. He noted that the three main takeaways for the future were personalizing the constituent experience early and often, leveraging visitor data for actionable insights, and optimizing constituent processes to drive conversation to the self-serve model. By focusing on these elements, agencies can deliver high-quality digital services, meeting and exceeding citizen expectations.
For more information on VETS and the potential of government digital services, check out the full webinar here.