How Gov Can Personalize Online Citizen Services

As citizens consume more of their information online, especially through mobile devices, many agencies have recognized a need to improve that experience for all involved. But with vast amounts of data and an array of services to provide, that’s easier said than done.

At GovLoop’s recent online training, “Gov Gets Personal,” experts discussed strategies to transform and modernize the way government connects to its citizens. Mike Wons, Chief Technology Officer at Illinois, and Sunil Menon, Senior Director of Adobe Experience Cloud, spoke about the challenges and benefits of making government services mobile-friendly and personalized.

When Wons came on as CTO for Illinois in 2015, he discovered almost all of the state’s citizen interaction points weren’t mobile-enabled or easy to use. In fact, only 1 percent of interaction points in the state could be accessed via electronic device.

“Think about that, 1 percent,” Wons said. “So, really, nothing.”

Last year, Wons brought together 150 Illinois agency directors to explore how technology can improve the government experience. At the summit, four fundamental building blocks emerged for making government more personal.

1. Data sharing and data-driven decisions. Historically, these types of decisions have been impeded by the sentiment in agencies that they owned their data, which led to a lack of inter-agency sharing.

2. Enhanced customer service approaches. This was a combination of using mobile-enabled technology, moving everything online and empowering government workers. This includes using virtual assistants to boost efficiency.

3. Business process automation. Wons noted that while it was very important to improve the government experience for citizens, it was also important to improve it for government workers, such as inspectors. Many paper processes can be automated.

4. Comprehensive case management. For example, how can technology improve the quality of child and family services?

Illinois has seen a lot of growth in a short period of time, Wons said. In July 2017, 40 percent of government services were mobile-enabled — up considerably from the 1 percent at the start of his tenure. He’s set aggressive goals of 70 percent for FY18, and 100 percent mobile-enabled for FY19.

“Our goal is to not just improve customer service, but to enable self-service,” he said. “And we can do that by lowering the barriers in the ways we interact with citizens.

“I want to highlight that we’re still on this journey. We have a long way to go to mobile-enable every interaction point, to enable self-service, and to really allow government to get personal.”

Sunil Menon gave advice for governments looking to make similar strides. First of all, he said, it’s important to know your citizens very well. This can happen by building what Adobe calls a progressive profile, made up of five variables, as follows.

1. Environment variables. IP address, country of origin, time zone, device type, etc.

2. Site behavior variables. New/return visitor, previous visit patterns, searches, etc.

3. Offline variables. Call center, ticket sales, third-party data, etc.

4. Temporal variables. Time of day, day of week, frequency, etc.

5. Referrer variables. Referring domain, campaign ID, natural search, etc.

Adobe’s products can help governments develop a progressive profile, and move forward from there. Menon explained how Adobe’s software solutions like Target, Campaign, Experience Manager, Sign and Analytics can aid enrollment and communication improvements in government.

“All these systems need to come together, so you can then provide that superior experience to the citizen,” Menon said. “Which means you have to tie together a business process that spans multiple systems.”

It may not be an simple fix to personalize these citizen experience points, but a worthwhile one nonetheless.

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