Delivering Efficient Citizen-Centered Government

Den Rise/Shutterstock.com

Consider the following five strategies to create a citizen-centric government and to drive governmentwide efficiencies.

Martha Dorris is the founder of Dorris Consulting International, focused on delivering an outstanding experience to the public when interacting with or accessing government services. She provides strategic advice to both governments worldwide and private-sector companies on customer experience.

As the new leaders take control of the government over the next several months, they will have many priorities to balance, such as understanding the complexities of managing government operations and determining what the priorities should be for their departments, agencies and organizations they will be appointed to run.

The newly appointed leadership will be working closely with the career senior executives to ensure veterans, seniors, students and parents, and taxpayers have a government that delivers for them. The partnership between the political and career staffs is critical to ensure the experience and expertise of both teams are leveraged in partnership.

» Get the best federal technology news and ideas delivered right to your inbox. Sign up here.

Agencies should remember that 75 percent of all transactions begin online. Contact centers, however, are still critical to overall service levels. Agencies need to manage the citizen's experience by focusing on the entire journey, not just touchpoint by touchpoint.

Each touchpoint may perform well, but if they aren’t integrated in a way that delivers a consistent experience, the overall satisfaction will not be good. Contact centers are the foundation of the knowledge base that provides content to websites and to customer service representatives.

Sharing best practices and leveraging communities of interest across government, and learning from other countries have the possibility to save millions. Consider the following five strategies to create a citizen-centric government and to drive governmentwide efficiencies:

1. Develop a strategy at the highest level of the enterprise. Of course, creating a strategy at the national level for improved citizen services would provide greater savings than agency by agency or office by office. However, a National Strategy for Citizen Services requires buy-in at the highest levels of the administration and collaboration across agencies. By assessing the “state of citizen services” enterprisewide, savings can be accomplished by:

  • Determining where common products and services could be built once and used governmentwide. This has been done many times by the Office of Management and Budget and the General Services Administration, but create products and shared services agencies need, not just a “new shiny thing” that will never get used or fully supported through its life cycle.
  • Collecting information centrally on what drives citizens' satisfaction. The kind of information to be collected should be driven by agencies with citizen-facing missions. There may be some gaps that need to be filled by agencies but a large percentage of customer needs can be assessed centrally. If you think this can’t be done, check out the Citizens First 7 in Canada at the Institute for Citizen-Centred Service.
  • Create a strategy to transform USA.gov to focus on delivering information and services for agencies and to provide centralized access to common government services informed by agency partners. Identify services that need to be provided at key life events and may cross multiple agencies.

2. Focus attention on the entire journey, including measuring the entire citizen experience based on the entire journey. However, integrate the channels to ensure the citizen gets consistent information from each channel. Questions answered through social media, phone and emails should be mined for common issues and content updated on the appropriate website to encourage self-service, which is the least costly channel.

Consider all strategies to solve the citizen’s problems at the first touchpoint. Many agencies are finding costs rising because of increased number of calls. To divert calls to the self-service channels—including virtual agents—content needs to be easy to access, easy to understand and easy to complete a transaction.

Managing content across channels can deliver ongoing savings. If someone gets a problem solved on the first call, email, or website visit, repeat callers to solve the same problem will be reduced.

3. Manage the citizen’s expectations by focusing valuable resources on what matters to the public. The government tries to do everything for everyone—which is almost impossible. By understanding what matters to citizens, agencies will be able to focus resources in those areas and not on things that don’t drive satisfaction.

In Canada, officials found their Ministry for Immigration believed processing time of an application for citizenship was the most important driver of customer satisfaction. Through human-centered design and research, they found what mattered the most was knowing if their application was received and where it is in the process.

To address this, they are piloting efforts like barcode applications and sending text confirmations when the application is received. This reduced repeat callers to the contact center by 35 percent, thereby saving millions of dollars.

In another example, the Internal Revenue Service was able to reduce calls to its contact centers by managing the public’s expectations for the time it takes to process their returns. Once the IRS began promising tax returns would be processed within 21 days rather than seven to 10 days, satisfaction went up because 70 percent were processed within seven to 10 days.

4. Leverage contact centers and the latest technologies in contact centers to improve overall customer or citizen experience.

Contact centers are a critical touchpoint in the citizen journey. While 70 percent of all journeys begin on the website, customers may begin at the website and still transfer to the phone channel. For high-volume services where it’s almost impossible to not have some level of wait time, there are technological capabilities agencies are not taking advantage of. Contact center companies can manage the knowledge base, or the caller can use the callback or virtual hold features as well as click to chat. 

5. Continue leveraging agile development, open source and human-centered design going forward when creating digital services.

The need to improve customer experience is driving many agencies and companies to transform their digital services. Digital citizen engagement platforms provide the ability to integrate channels (i.e., web, phone, email, web chat and social media).  

The government approves drugs to cure diseases; provides loans to students so they can attend college; to veterans to buy homes or to entrepreneurs to start small businesses; provides health care insurance; provides applications to become a citizen and disability and/or retirement benefits to our seniors. These services are just a few of the reasons why it’s important that we continue delivering improved services via the public’s channel of choice.

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.