How Can Agencies Increase Citizen Trust?

Citizen trust in government has always been important, but now it is more than ever, said Barbara Morton, Deputy Chief Veterans Experience Officer at the Veterans Affairs Department (VA).

Citizens want to quickly access and trust the information they receive from agencies in times of emergency and tranquility. Cloud computing is one technology that allows agencies to deliver consistent and secure communication when citizens need it most. This, in turn, increases the trust citizens have in their agencies.

“Any interaction with a government organization has to be easy, effective and emotionally resonant,” Morton said at GovLoop’s Fireside Chat on Thursday. When these three qualities are met in a customer’s experience, trust in that organization goes up.

One of the main challenges to improving citizen trust, however, is consistent messaging. For an organization as large as VA, with nearly 400,000 employees and contractors, it can be difficult to convey consistent messaging from local, frontline facilities to nationwide VA communications.

That is why the Veterans Experience Office (VEO) is undertaking a key integration effort across contact centers so that agents who are serving veterans have the same information across different facilities and channels. By leveraging cloud so that veterans do not have to repeat the same information, VA is positively impacting the trust veterans have in their services.

“The cloud helps by providing a multichannel solution, but that alone does not solve the problem. What is needed is to share context across the different channels,” said Dave York, Senior Vice President of U.S. Public Sector at Genesys, a customer experience (CX) technology provider.

To provide context for employees across different channels, VEO deployed customer experience training for VA’s workforce to ensure consistent messaging. “Employees are the first touch citizens or veterans have with an organization,” York noted. Over 90,000 employees have taken the “Own the Moment” training to ensure that a common tone exists for how employees interact with veterans, their families and caregivers. “That’s something I’m particularly proud of,” Morton said.

Enabling and training the workforce is critical, because without empowering them to interact with citizens through a common organizational mission, citizens’ experiences and their trust in the organization will struggle, York said.

Further, many employees at this time are faced with an overload of information and communication. So having the right information at their fingertips and leveraging communications technologies, such as chatbots or other assistance powered by artificial intelligence (AI), will help lift the overload and produce clear, trustworthy communication.

“If we are able to make the adaptations that the new world is demanding of us, that will be a key ingredient for moving forward [in citizen trust],” Morton said.

This online training was sponsored by:

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