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Making Equitable Digital Experiences a Reality

The president’s customer experience executive order makes clear that putting the citizen first must be more than an ideal. Creating personalized and equitable experiences for a diverse public requires continuous and concrete actions, including understanding who is and isn’t being served; meeting people where they are; and closing the gaps using a human-centered approach, the right tools and metrics.

“When we have concrete targets, we can hold agencies accountable for progress,” said Bill Donellan, Vice President of Public Sector at Adobe, a software company. This is especially true for the government’s high impact service providers (HISPs), or those agencies called to raise CX standards because of the scale and impact of their public-facing services.

“HISPs have a long history of grading their own homework,” Donellan said.

That’s led Adobe to partner with agencies like the Veterans Affairs Department and the Census Bureau to benchmark themselves against comparable commercial entities. Central to those efforts are unifying data and reporting across different citizen touchpoints and digital journeys.

“The pandemic accelerated the government’s need to provide digital services and increase accessibility, usability and responsiveness,” Donellan said. “It’s imperative for agencies to reach people regardless of where they live, their technological capabilities, or financial resources.”

Understand pain points

The key for Adobe’s agency partners is understanding what pain points citizens face and developing solutions that address those areas.

“We ask questions like, how are citizens engaging with your agency and services? Is it in person or online? What is the specific pain they are feeling? What is the key barrier for them to take action? How can you make that process easier for them and your employees?” Donellan said. 

Elevate accessibility

Knowing that strategic investments in technology will alleviate accessibility issues can motivate agencies to take on new projects and help set minds at ease, he said.

For example, the executive order states that the State Department will design and deliver a new online passport renewal experience that does not require mailing physical documents.

And leading up to the nation’s first online census in 2020, Adobe worked with the Census Bureau to create personalized content and landing pages in 59 languages to help all Americans take part. According to the Government Accountability Office, 99.98% of all housing units were accounted for with an estimated $1.4 billion in savings.

“To reach the masses effectively, agencies must consider features such as mobile-friendly digital forms, legally secure signatures, website compatibility on any device while complying with accessibility standards as mandated by law,” Donellan said, citing Adobe’s partnerships with Oklahoma and Los Angeles County Department of Public Social Services as examples.

“It’s about putting yourself in the citizen’s shoes, anticipating their needs,” he said. “Organizations can analyze and research best-in-class customer experiences in the private sector to help better understand expectations and what it takes to successfully provide equitable and accessible digital services.”

This article is an excerpt from GovLoop’s guide “Customer Experience Beyond Memos: A How-To Guide.” Download the full guide here.

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