By Stephanie Kanowitz
A convergence of two trends is at the heart of the government’s need to improve digital customer experience (CX).
First, digital engagement has eclipsed in-person engagement, said Ryan Picchini, Senior Director of Product Marketing at Acquia.
“More and more of our interactions as human beings are taking place on a website, via a mobile app, via text messages, via a kiosk, and there’s a need for government agencies to connect with citizens in the channels and formats that are critical for engaging with their citizens,” Picchini said.
Second, constituents make little distinction between CX from the public verses the private sector. “It’s all happening on the same phone,” he said, so “if a citizen gets a great experience for parking via a mobile app that was created by the private sector, why can’t they have that great experience with a government-based agency?”
To meet expectations, agencies must provide three types of experiences: in-person, digital and digitally assisted, meaning a customer might start with a chatbot and get directed to a live agent. But many lack the modern IT infrastructure to support that.
Another challenge is a skills shortage in the federal government. “The government is competing with private industry for certain skill sets and cannot always offer the same kind of salary and compensation packages that a lot of the developers, data analysts” and other experts get from industry, said Jonathan Woods, Director of Federal at Acquia.
Lastly, most agencies lack a defined roadmap for what bestin-class looks like – specifically, how agencies can collect and use customer data to create more personalized experiences and drive better outcomes for citizens.
The Solution: A Modern Digital Experience Platform
To provide that utility, agencies need a modern digital experience platform (DXP), a collection of technology products that all work together to help organizations deliver an exceptional digital experience to their customers.
The major components of DXPs are web content management, website personalization, campaign management tools, customer data platforms, and analytics and machine learning. And all of that is built on a resilient cloud-based infrastructure to ensure availability, performance and security of digital experiences.
DXPs based on open-source standards such as Drupal in a cloud environment take the platform a level up by enabling other crucial pieces of the CX puzzle: agility, cost efficiencies, scale and the ability to adopt new technology.
“The foundation for citizen experience is content,” Picchini said, and “the foundation [for technology to provide that content] is moving to the cloud.” For instance, if an agency wants to adopt Drupal, it can run it in the cloud with tools to ensure that it’s secure, optimized and regularly updated. Without the cloud, agencies would need to build each layer internally, which can add time and costs.
But time is of the essence with digital CX. As the pandemic has illustrated, sometimes agencies need to stand up new content and ways to access it on short notice. As a result, agencies need more content authors – and they need to contribute faster than before.
“Low-code tools are one great way to empower all team members to contribute (with guardrails),” Picchini said. What’s more, that helps keep the CX pipeline moving without waiting for new hires or lengthy training.
As agencies begin to make a roadmap for what IT they want to implement today, they should consider how it will grow over time, especially since they’re likely to use it for a long time. Additionally, agencies must determine who controls the roadmap and where innovation comes from.
With an open-source DXP, agencies get constant access to a global community of active developers, Woods said. “Digital transformation is a crawl, walk, run approach,” he said. “The key is to just get started.”