In the mobile era, people are accessing government websites from their tablet, phone, home computer, work computer etc and expect a positive and seamless experience. They want to find accurate information quickly, easily, and many times, on their own. Furthermore, they want to interact with organizations in a variety of ways including social media, phone, email etc. Organizations are working to improve their online customer experience and mobile strategy, but often struggle with where to start or how to prioritize. Many times this is because they are not thinking from the customer perspective or viewing the customer journey as a whole.
Below are 9 best practices to improve your customers' online experience. I encourage you to check out Oracle's white paper, Best Practices for Web Experiences, for more information and a deeper dive into the best practices below.
1. Make Customer Service Easy to Find- Think about it- how frustrated do you get when you are on a website and need help and can't find the "help" button? The first best practice is to prominently show a link to your Customer Service or Support portal. This gets people in the right place quicker and easier.
2. Make Your Website Easy to Use- In government, the people accessing your website vary in age, location, education etc. Some may be tech-savvy and others may use a computer once a week. Organizations with the highest self-service success rates are ones that are able to make consumers feel self-confident and empowered with self-service. You should implement a user interface that makes it clear how to correct a problem. Another best practice is to think about the 80/20 rule—80 percent of visitors are after 20 percent of your content.
3. Understand the Issues Your Customers Have- The better you understand the problems your customers are trying to solve, the easier it is to meet those needs. Typically, people have two objectives on a website: find information and get human help if they can't do something themselves. Make it easy for people to do these two things.
4. Provide Clear and Readable Content- Make your content easy to read (in plain text) and to the point. Videos, graphics, bullet points etc all make content is easier to consume, which means consumers get the information they are looking for and can actually use it. Best practice- remember people like to skim on a website so avoid big block paragraphs.
5. Offer Multichannel Choice- Offering a unified experience across multiple channels is important to the customer
experience. Provide several channels for customers to choose from so they can select their preferred way of communicating (e-mail, phone, chat, social media etc).
6. Capture Customer Feedback About the Web Experience- Offer the opportunity for feedback and use surveys to capture customer satisfaction and experience at the moment of interaction.
7. Optimize the Performance of Your Website- The longer someone has to wait for a page to load, the more likely they are to leave. Make sure that any customizations you make to your customer portal does not negatively affect
8. Deliver a Personalized Experience- We all hate inputting the same information in over and over again. So be sure to take into consideration information that you already know that can be automatically retrieved. Best practice- people should have to log in once to access information.
9. Ensure Your Website is Accessible- True accessibility means support for a variety of browsers as well as assistive technology for people with disabilities. In the mobile world, this also means making your website compatible with smartphones or other devices.
What else would you add?
For more information on citizen engagement and customer service check out these resources:
GovLoop Guide: Innovating at the Point of Citizen Engagement
GovLoop Guide: Re-Imaging Customer Service in Government
Oracle offers an optimized and fully integrated stack of business hardware and software systems that helps organizations overcome complexity and unleash innovation.. Check out their Optimize with Oracle group on GovLoop as well as the Technology Sub-Community of which they are a council member.
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